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The Open University and the Royal College of Nursing celebrate alliance

The new alliance between The Open University and the Royal College of Nursing was welcomed last week by MPs and senior healthcare executives at a special Westminster launch event. The partnership was created to initiate imaginative development and change in healthcare education and practice.

Professor Brenda Gourley, the University's Vice-Chancellor, said at the event: "My ambition is to enhance patient care by helping to deliver the modern, flexible, responsive and skilled workforce that our health service requires. Since this has always been at the heart of the RCN's mission, we know that the partnership with the RCN is the right way forward.

"This alliance enhances the potential of each organisation to reach out and draw in new learners at many different levels."

The OU-RCN strategic alliance brings together the UK's leading provider of distance learning and the country's foremost professional organisation for nurses. It will:

  • Offer learning opportunities for the healthcare workforce from unqualified to highly skilled and qualified professional status in the NHS and the independent sector.
  • Widen participation in higher education programmes throughout the healthcare workforce.
  • Influence healthcare education policy and debates about skills development, employer engagement and workplace education.

According to Dr Peter Carter, General Secretary of the RCN, the new alliance has the potential to set new standards of quality and accessibility in healthcare education.

He said: "Working together, the Royal College of Nursing and The Open University will be able to make a real difference to the healthcare workforce through the delivery of top-quality, flexible learning for staff who would otherwise be unable to access higher education courses to support their careers.

"Healthcare support workers and nurses will be able to continue to earn as they learn and apply their learning to their practice for the benefit of patients and clients."

Student Matt Watts spoke at the event, and said: "I like to see myself as a nurse of the future; a nurse who can deliver the flexible, modern and responsive services that people want and need. And the flexible, modern and responsive Open University helped me get there."

Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)
"Yes I do think this partnership will work. It is a great way forward for nurses to be able to work and study. What will be the price of the Open University course? I would be interested in doing an OU course but I have to fund my own training" - Name and address supplied

"Yes, very much so. The Open University courses, which nurses and healthcare support workers already access, are steeped in underpinning values into practice. It is a recognised fact that values are not taught throughout the tradition nurse education system, which occurs in the traditional universities at the moment. OU students are intensively supported by OU tutors in the workplace and their learning is based on an individualised portfolio and values-based case studies. Well done OU and RCN - this is so valuable for dignified care and for patients. About time too!!" - Name and address supplied