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Open College Network West Midlands Centres: Lifetime learning for all

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Access to HE Update

Saturday, 11 July 2020

Despite the lockdown situation and having to implement an extraordinary framework for calculated grades in a short period of time, Access to HE is pleased to be able to share some positive news.

Awards Board

A very successful awards board was held on July 10th at which Open College Network as the  AVA (Access validating Agency) presented the results of learners from 42 centres to be approved and confirmed with QAA in presence. Over 2500 full Access to HE Diplomas were awarded.  Congratulations to all the learners and best wishes for the future,

The AVA were commended for their diligence and application of processes and we would like to thank all the Centres, Centre Reviewers and AVA staff who were involved and contributed to this successful outcome. 


Brian May Learner Awards

On June 3rd, the annual Brian May Access to HE Learner Awards ceremony took place virtually via Zoom.  This year eight learner were awarded a prize of £600 for outstanding achievement or commitment to study.  It was lovely to meet with some of the winners and their tutors to congratulate them on their award and to hear from some of them about their inspirational experiences and future plans. 

The winners this year were:

Outstanding Achievement:

  • Charlie McCall - Cheshire College South and West (Ellesmere Port)
  • Priya Gurung - NSCG Stafford
  • Veronica Ugorji - University College Birmingham

Outstanding Commitment to Study:

  • Daisy Cunningham - Cheshire College South and West (Ellesmere Port)
  • Emma Thompson - University College Birmingham
  • Heather Hughes - NSCG Stafford
  • Olivia Doughty - Cheshire College South and West (Ellesmere Port)
  • Yasmin Wakefield - Cheshire College South and West (Crewe)

We wish them all the very best with their future plans.


New Access to HE Diploma (Medicine)

Finally, at the start of the lockdown a validation panel was held to approve our new Access to HE Diploma (Medicine).  Since 2010 Centres delivering Access to HE with Open College Network West Midlands have been able to offer progression opportunities to medical schools through the Access to HE Diploma (Medicine and Health Care Professions). 

Strong relationships between Centres and HEIs have been formed and learners have progressed into medical schools in universities here in the UK - Keele, Leicester, Warwick and Bristol to name a few - but also internationally in Cyprus and the Ukraine.  David Cainstudied his Access to Higher Education Diploma (Medicine and Health Care Professions) at Stafford College, finishing his studies in 2013.  Following the Access to HE Diploma, David progressed to University of Leicester to study Medicine MbCHb and is now a Military Foundation Year 2 Doctor. 

More about his journey can be read on our Access to HE Case Study page here

National Subject Descriptor Framework for Access to HE (Medicine)

The ethos of Access to HE is to widen participation and to offer an alternative route into Higher Education for learners with few, if any, qualifications.  Therefore when the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) announced that they would be working with medical schools across the country to develop a national subject descriptor framework for an Access to HE Diploma (Medicine) to enhance progression for Access to HE learners, we were delighted to be able to participate in working groups to assist in the development of the framework and the Professional Behaviours unit. 

Following the validation of the framework by QAA, we worked on producing our new Access to HE Diploma (Medicine) and this was approved and validated at a panel on March 25th 2020 and will be available for delivery in Centres from 1st August 2020.   HEIs can be confident that learners from any of our Centres will have covered the minimum subject content required to prepare them for medical school and developed critical professional behaviours and skills.

Our thanks go to Dudley College and NSCG Stafford for their contributions to the development of the Diploma structure, and to individuals who attended the panel as subject specialists or HEI representatives namely Dr Gordon Dent, Chris Perry, Laura Walker and Jay Patel. At such a time when the country and indeed the whole world is relying heavily on frontline staff within its healthcare system, Open College Network West Midlands could not be prouder in offering this new Diploma for individuals who wish to pursue a career in medicine.  As they desire to make a difference to the lives of others, we in turn desire to be able to make a difference in their lives and welcome the opportunity for this Diploma to be part of our provision.

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