University of the West of Scotland, North Lanarkshire Council and New College Lanarkshire’s ground-breaking widening access initiative has been shortlisted for a major national award.
The tri-partite joint venture has been shortlisted in the widening access category of the Herald Higher Education Awards, which recognises both colleges and universities which are using innovative methods to widen access.
The venture focuses on those most at risk of not achieving a positive destination post-school and creates new pathways for previously hard-to-reach candidates, by targeting future projected employability gaps with an innovative fast-track qualification route.
The project aligns the aims of the three organisations by encompassing a pathway from school-based education in the senior phase, through to college-based learning and on to university-based study; finally resulting in permanent employment in a business environment in North Lanarkshire.
The pilot was successfully rolled out to pupils from secondary schools across North Lanarkshire. A total of 93 percent of the S6 pupils who signed up for the programme are still engaging with it, and look set to achieve their HNC award before moving on to New College Lanarkshire to begin their HND programme.
The initial evidence and testimonies suggest the pilot programme has been extremely successful in achieving its aims of widening participation; providing fast-track qualification routes and new curriculum pathways.
The winners of the awards will be announced at a special ceremony in Glasgow on 31 May.
We are delighted to be shortlisted in this category. As Scotland’s leading University for widening participation, we believe passionately in ensuring higher education is accessible for all. This initiative is a fantastic example of institutions coming together with an important shared vision, working innovatively and collaborating across the region to create new and creative pathways into education. We believe this pioneering approach will enable more students to reach their full potential and achieve success. Congratulations and good luck to everyone involved.
Dr Lucy Meredith, Interim Principal & Vice-Chancellor of UWS
Commenting on the nomination, Derek Brown, Executive Director of Education and Families at North Lanarkshire Council said: “We are thrilled that our initiative has been recognised as part of the Herald Higher Education Awards. It is crucial that we maximise employment opportunities for our young people and this partnership will create effective packages of learning and support. It will align the curriculum to employment opportunities and ensure school leavers have the correct mix of skills to benefit from future job opportunities. It’s a genuinely exciting development. It will enable pupils to study for an HNC while still at school, gain relevant industry work-experience and provide the opportunity to progress further towards a degree in their chosen area.”
Professor Christopher Moore, Principal and Chief Executive of New College Lanarkshire added: “It is fantastic that our joint initiative has been recognised for a national award. NCL is delighted to be involved in this innovative partnership. The feedback we have had from the young people currently on the first year of the programme has been overwhelmingly positive, with many of the students praising the opportunity to get a ‘head start’ by studying for an HNC while still at school. Others like that they have been able to be eased gently into the college experience, or study subjects that are not on offer in school. All the courses focus on delivering key skills desired by industry, with a strong emphasis on practical tasks. This means that the young people completing these courses will be in the strongest possible position to gain employment in a sector where they will have the opportunity to build a flourishing career.”