UWE offers flexible Higher Education awards

Issue date: 17 March 2011

A new and flexible approach to University-level learning for organisations, community groups and individuals has been launched by the University of the West of England (UWE).

Successful students will be able to achieve awards from certificates and diplomas to first or master's degrees using the scheme without giving up their employment. The scheme is modular and allows learners to select learning opportunities relevant to developing both themselves and their organisations.

The innovative scheme is called Integrated Professional Development (IPD) and is led by the Director of Work-Based Learning, Dr Lesley Moore, and programme manager Helen Millican, from UWE's Research, Business and Innovation department.

Lesley said, “The advantage of these IPD awards is that they offer a framework to integrate work-based, and other forms of experiential learning with taught modules, from within and external to UWE. Alternatively a programme can be undertaken completely through UWE facilitated work-based learning. IPD can also bring together a wide range of subject areas, integrating them into one award.”

The scheme is so flexible that learners can join the scheme at any time of the year.
Benefits for employers include:

• Workforce develops skills that meet the needs of the organisation
• Staff are encouraged to engage with organisational change
• Time spent learning away from the workplace is reduced
• Learning can be driven by appraisals/personal development plans

Benefits for learners include:
• Learning takes place at any time, in the 'real' environment of work
• Negotiate how and when you learn and how you will be assessed
• Gain a university qualification without taking too much time off
• Develop reflection and planning skills
• Enhance confidence in self-directed study

Already UWE has over 30 students enrolled, including three cohorts from industry and one cohort of individual learners.

Organisations on board include the British Heart Foundation, the Association of Colleges SW (to accredit low carbon skills) and staff from the Mulberry Bush special school who are using the scheme to build on their UWE Foundation Degree.

One person who can vouch for the benefit of work-based learning is Sam Boobier, a senior health professional for Wiltshire NHS.

She said, “When I commenced the role of Community Matron, I needed to transfer the skills I had developed in secondary care to Primary Care. I found I had many of the skills required, but there were also many I needed to develop to fulfil my new role. Evidencing work based learning assisted me to do this in a timely way."

UWE's Work-based Learning website http://rbi.uwe.ac.uk/wbl/default.aspgives further information and examples of how the scheme's compulsory element of work-based learning makes a difference. It also provides further information on how learners can build up their knowledge and have it validated within a 'shell' framework.

Lesley continued, “One of the particularly exciting features of this scheme is watching it meet organisational needs and act as a catalyst for evolving partnerships, for example, UWE's growing relationship with the British Heart Foundation charity. Other exciting aspects are witnessing a growing engagement with work-based learning pedagogy and its benefit to learners and staff development.”

UWE Vice-Chancellor Steve West endorses the potential of work-based learning as a way of making learning from experience count. In his foreword to Lesley's report A realistic, longitudinal evaluation of Work-based Learning of Qualified Nurses (2008), he said,

“This project has been able to demonstrate the evidence to support the utilisation of WBL as an effective tool for workforce development.”


Editor's notes

For further information on UWE's new Integrated Professional Development award visit http://rbi.uwe.ac.uk/wbl/default.asp

FFI: Jane Kelly or Mary Price, Press Officers


Tel: 0117 32 82208

E-mail: Jane.Kelly@uwe.ac.ukor Mary.Price@uwe.ac.uk


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