Pictured at the partnership event: Hugh Hall, Roy Lawrence, Marie Hendry, Minister Richard Lochhead, Carol Hunter, Kerry Gray, Susan Stewart and Iain Hawker.
Fife College and The Open University (OU) were delighted to welcome Richard Lochhead, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, to a special event held on Tuesday (19 February) to hear all about their successful partnership and how it is benefitting students.
The two organisations have had a formal partnership since 2014 which sees them work together to support learners within the Fife Region. College students are able to access agreed pathways from Fife College HNC and HND pathways onto Open University degrees, and a range of other initiatives, such as Fife College Lecturers delivering OU courses and the availability of the college as a Learning Space for OU students, further enhances opportunities for students in the region.
At the event the Minister was welcomed by Hugh Hall, Principal of Fife College and Susan Stewart, Director of the OU in Scotland.
Susan Stewart, gave a presentation on the OU’s approach to widening access and college partnerships while Iain Hawker, Assistant Principal – Quality and Academic Partnerships at Fife College, gave an insight into how the partnership is working for Fife College.
The Minister was also made aware of an exciting new pilot planned for next academic year, 2019/20, which enhances the partnership further. The OU, Fife College and Bell Baxter High School in Cupar are offering OU access modules in Arts and Languages and in Science, Technology and Maths. This is being offered to senior phase pupils as part of the Developing the Young Workforce School College Partnership programme.
Susan Stewart commented: “This year marks our 50th anniversary. That’s fifty years of widening access to higher education, making sure that university really is an option for everyone, regardless of their background or where they’re from.
“Partnerships like this one with Fife College are a crucial part of that work and it was a pleasure to show the Minister how we work together for the benefit of our students.”
Iain Hawker said: “Today’s event was a fantastic opportunity to showcase what the OU and Fife College have achieved in partnership to widen opportunities for students and to make good use of shared resources.
“We were also very pleased to share our plans for the future and to explain our joint work with schools, such as Bell Baxter, and also our plans to introduce online resources to help students with their transition to Fife College to improve their chance of success.
“Alongside widening access for students our partnership with the OU represents another exciting step forward for our degree links programme.”
Current OU student, Carol Hunter and previous OU students, Kerry Gray and Roy Lawrence were also on hand at the event to answer questions and advise the Minister on how the partnership has benefitted them.
Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science Richard Lochhead said:
“Widening access to higher education is a key priority for the Scottish Government. With record numbers of students from our most deprived areas attending university we are making good progress towards giving every person in Scotland an equal chance of success.
“I commend The Open University for its long tradition of widening access to higher education for learners from non-traditional backgrounds, and for its approach to flexible learning, giving every student the opportunity to learn in a way that benefits them.”
Current OU student Carol Hunter, who is also Student President at Fife College, said:
“It was great to meet the Minister and tell him about the benefits of studying with the OU. After school I went straight on to university to do Primary teaching but found it overwhelming and not for me. I went on to work in accounts and then decided to come to college to study HND Social Sciences. The partnership links with the OU through Fife College means I have been able to go on to study BA (Honours) Social Sciences which is fantastic, something I never thought I would be able to achieve. Life is busy - I have three children and work full-time as Student President, however studying through the OU means I can fit my degree studies around my work and family commitments.
“I am thrilled that the partnership between the OU and Fife College is continuing to strengthen which is creating further opportunities for students like myself to improve our qualifications and skills to secure a great future.”