08 Jan 2015

Open University and social partners get boost to support access to Higher Education

The Open University (OU) is delighted to announce it has received funding from HEFCE to extend the work conducted by its Social Partnerships Network.

The grant comes under HEFCE’s National Networks for Collaborative Outreach (NNCO) scheme announced today (Thursday) and covers funding for 2014/15 and 2015/16. The new £22 million scheme, involving over 200 higher education institutions and reaching 4,300 secondary schools and colleges, aims to encourage more people into higher education. Three of the networks, including the Social Partnerships Network, will offer advice and support to specific groups of students at a national level, thus supporting a diverse HE system which supports workplace and lifelong learning.

The OU is one of 10 organisations that form the Social Partnerships Network. All the partners have a firm commitment to widening access and social inclusion and the combined potential to reach over six million people.
We are pleased to welcome the National Council for Voluntary Organisations as the latest member to this Network, the full list of which comprises:

• Workers’ Educational Association (WEA)
• UnionLearn
• Unison
• National Extension College (NEC)
• Association of Colleges (AoC)
• LearnDirect
• Leonard Cheshire Disability (LCD)
• National Institute for Adult Continuing Education (NIACE)
• National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO)
• The Open University

Together the partners work to develop strategies and activities that support social mobility and lifelong learning.

Speaking about the HEFCE grant announced today, Liz Marr, Director of The Open University’s Centre for Inclusion and Collaborative Partnerships said:

“This allocation will be an enormous help for our Social Partnerships Network. It will enable us to sustain and expand our existing outreach programmes, including our coordinated efforts to provide clear and relevant information to potential adult learners. In turn, it will support our shared commitment to extending higher education opportunities to all those who can benefit.”

Speaking about the HEFCE scheme, Greg Clark, Minister for Universities and Science, welcomed all the networks, saying:

'Higher education is a transformational experience and the future of the UK economy depends on having highly-trained graduates so it is vital that young people have the right information about progressing into higher education.

'A record number of students entered higher education in 2014, with entry rates for students from disadvantaged backgrounds increasing by over 10% to its highest ever level. However there is still more work to do to ensure all students who want to study hard can benefit, irrespective of their background."

The networks are funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and managed by HEFCE

Notes to Editors:
National Networks for Collaborative Outreach (NNCO) Scheme
The National Networks for Collaborative Outreach (NNCO) will deliver a nationally co-ordinated approach to working with schools, universities and colleges to help people access higher education [Note 1]. Local and regional providers of higher education have come together to form the networks, ensuring comprehensive coverage across England.

Thirty-five local networks will cover the whole of England. Each network will appoint a single point of contact to help teachers and advisers find out about higher education outreach activity in their area and to provide general advice about progression into higher education. Three more networks will offer advice and support to specific groups of students at national level, including older learners wishing to continue or return to study and care leavers.

The local networks will host web-sites with information about outreach activity, and signpost other information to support schools and colleges as they prepare their students for higher education.

The networks are funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and managed by HEFCE

Social Partnerships Network

Find out more about the Social Partnerships Network:

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