In a forward-thinking move Middlesbrough College will deliver degrees that are increasingly job-focused, shorter in duration and more cost-effective for those who want to study.
The deal will see a wide range of higher education courses provided from Middlesbrough College’s Middlehaven campus – including the industry-leading STEM Centre.
The Open University is the UK’s largest university and its courses are underpinned by world-leading research.
Zoe Lewis, principal and chief executive of Middlesbrough College, explained: “The Open University shares our ambition to deliver flexible learning that equips students with the skills and knowledge that employers need.
“The partnership means we can provide courses that are better suited to the needs of students – that means more contact time with tutors, more flexible learning hours and better value for money.
“Many students are put off university by high fees, and left wondering what they’re paying for when teaching hours are so few.
“We’ll address that and offer high-quality, cost-effective courses that enhance employability prospects.
“We already deliver high quality higher education courses that provide the right balance of teaching input and academic support and resources, essential to developing independent learners with graduate skills and good employment outcomes.”
Middlesbrough College’s track record on this was acknowledged when it recently received a Gold award in the Teaching Excellence Framework – a national Government award programme that rates the quality of teaching and employment outcomes at colleges and universities. Middlesbrough College was the only general further education college or university in the Tees Valley to receive this highest accolade.
The College will offer a seamless progression from further education to higher education study.
In addition, as the largest apprenticeship provider in the North East, it can now offer higher education in the workplace through higher and degree apprenticeships and additionally part-time, evening and distance-learning options will be provided for learners so they work around family or work commitments.
Middlesbrough College will also partner with Pearson to offer its HND/C programmes.
Classes will be delivered by Middlesbrough College’s expert teachers. As well as being highly qualified academics its tutors come from industry backgrounds and regularly return to the workplace to update their skills and knowledge.
The College campus is home to a range of top class facilities and resources available to higher education students, including commercial kitchens and restaurant, a simulated aircraft cabin, dance studios, a theatre, music technology labs, recording studios, engineering workshops and the industry-leading STEM Centre.
As part of the new partnership an initial investment of £500,000 by Middlesbrough College will enhance the existing higher education infrastructure, providing more higher education student support and improved library resources.
The College has also opened a dedicated higher education centre for students this year, providing teaching space and independent study areas exclusively for students.
Zoe added: “Between the College and Northern Skills Group – our apprenticeship and training arm – we already work with more than 2,000 employers, many of whom are asking us for higher qualifications more aligned to their needs
“This means we can offer a wide range of work placements and internships as part of students’ study – significantly boosting their job prospects.
“Students are demanding better quality and value for money from their higher education institutions, and that’s what we will provide.”
The model of colleges providing degree programmes in partnership with universities is not unusual in the UK, and in 2015/16 nearly 160,000 people studied higher education in colleges.
Middlesbrough College has a long experience of delivering higher education – previously with Teesside University – and staff are excited about playing an active role in driving down student debt and improving employability and economic growth on Teesside.