From education to employment

First wave of colleges to receive OU support to boost skills in their local communities

students on computer

The first wave of colleges in England that will receive support from The Open University (OU) to develop their higher technical educational offering has been announced today.

Backed by £10milion of UK Government funding, the OU will be working with colleges across England to support colleges put on a wider range of advanced technical courses, linked to local employer requirements, supporting more people to secure jobs with higher wages and grow the economy in their area.

Both Strode College and Yeovil College University Centre will now receive specialist support from the OU throughout the next three years to expand the number of higher education courses available in their local communities.

Applications for the next wave of colleges in England to receive support from the OU are still open for further education providers looking to boost their technical higher educational offering. Details of the scheme and how to apply can be found at

Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education Robert Halfon said:

“I am committed to ensuring everyone can reach their career aspirations without having to leave their

communities, and to ensure that local employers have access to the skills they need to grow and thrive.

“The incredible work which the Open University has done for decades to extend the ladder of opportunity across the country by opening up higher education will be boosted by the £10 million we are providing to colleges, stimulating growth and driving forward social mobility.”

Professor Tim Blackman, Vice-Chancellor at The Open University, said:

“”Further education colleges are a critical part of their local communities. We are delighted to be working with both Yeovil College University Centre and Strode College to develop their higher education offer through new advanced technical courses.

“With Government-backed support from the OU we can help provide advanced skills that can attract new businesses and help others grow, creating sustainable and highly skilled jobs.”

Sarah Probert, Head of Higher Education, Strode College said:

At Strode College we have committed to placing employers and our community at the heart of what we do. As such, we are delighted to have been successful in our application to The Open University for Department for Education Higher Technical Education Boost.

“Writing new provision in conjunction with The Open University, employers and our community ensures that we have a curriculum offer that meets national, regional and local needs. Our aim is to reach those who have not had the chance to study higher level qualifications, offering greater flexibility in course design, which helps remove barriers to learning, raise aspirations and in turn, results in greater equality of opportunity within Higher Education.”

Sian Deasy, Head of Higher Education and Adult Learning, Yeovil College University Centre, said:

“At Yeovil College University Centre, we are passionate about providing opportunities for real people juggling busy lives to be able to gain a university-level qualification in a local setting.

“This exciting new partnership with The Open University will allow us to continue to provide opportunities for people to upskill and retrain in order to secure high-value employment in our region, in particular, focussing on the essential field of Digital Health.”

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