Northern regional college to offer new open university courses

The Open University has approved Northern Regional College as a new strategic validation partner launching 2024/2025, offering three new higher education (HE) programmes. From September 2024, subject to validation approval, students at Northern Regional College will be able to study for OU-validated Foundation Degree courses in Housing Practice and Cloud Computing with Cyber Security, and a Certificate of Higher Education in Health Care Practice.

The partnership will offer greater choice at HE level, both for school leavers seeking a career pathway into these high-demand sectors and for those already in employment who wish to avail of upskilling opportunities through part-time study close to home. The courses will be available for both full-time part-time study and Higher-Level Apprenticeship.

Principal and Chief Executive of the College, Mel Higgins, explained that the partnership with The Open University will be an important element of the College’s future HE provision.

“This exciting new partnership will allow us to offer a wider range of specialist Higher Education provision, aligned to regional career opportunities whilst also providing progression pathways to honours and from there to postgraduate degrees. Curriculum content has been developed in consultation with industry stakeholders to ensure relevance and to maximise employment prospects for our learners, directly supporting local and regional economic growth.

John D’Arcy, Director, The Open University in Ireland, said, “Further Educational Colleges are at the heart of their communities and The Open University is delighted to partner with Northern Regional College in providing these Foundation degrees and Higher Certificate award.  

He continued, “Northern Regional College is a dynamic and progressive college, and we are looking forward to building on our relationship with them by exploring other vocational areas to further enhance their HE provision. Through this partnership, we will support industry skills gaps and help realise Northern Ireland’s economic potential.”

Economy Minister Conor Murphy attended the launch of the new strategic partnership between Northern Regional College and The Open University today. The partnership will enhance the higher education offering and means that all further education colleges here are working with The Open University to deliver higher education across the region.

Highlighting the important role further education colleges play in the delivery of higher education courses, the Minister said:

“Partnerships are key to driving my new economic mission. The partnership between Northern Regional College and The Open University shows how we can work together to enable regional access to higher education. Working in this way supports people to get the skills they need to secure good jobs and for those in jobs to reskill, raising productivity.

“All of our six further education colleges are now working in partnership with the Open University and other higher education providers. These partnerships offer more choices for higher education, both for school leavers and for those already in employment to upskill while studying locally.”

Subject to OU validation approval, the new courses will be offered at Northern Regional College from September 2024.