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Guaranteed University Opportunties For Vocational Learners

A new agreement in the East Midlands giving guaranteed opportunities at university for people training for vocational skills is to get the go ahead. This agreement has been signed by universities and colleges in Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Rutland.

The final signing, by Professor Robert Burgess, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, will take place on the 23 January as part of a commitment to widen access to higher education for those engaged in vocational learning.

The University is the lead partner in the Skills for Sustainable Communities Lifelong Learning Network which brings together education partners across Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Rutland covering a range of academic levels.

The agreement sets out a number of conditions that need to be met for applicants to specific higher education programmes to be given guaranteed places or an enhanced offer of a place.

For example students studying a BTEC National at a partner college would have the opportunity of an enhanced offer at a university within the Network once a progression agreement is in place.

Jenny Rice, Project Director at the Lifelong Learning Network said ‘We are committed to widening access for vocational learners in higher education. The progression agreements signed by our partners will ensure that colleges and universities within the Network work together to provide opportunities for vocational learners’.

These progression agreements will first be implemented in the Network priority areas: Health and Social Care (including Children’s and Young People’s Services) and Leadership, Management and Enterprise in Construction, Food and Drink and Creative Industries.

Network partners are now working together to map curriculum and assess barriers to student progression which may include lack of awareness of vocational qualifications and transition problems from college to university. Once identified, solutions will be developed such as visits to universities and developing study skills of vocational students.

Regent College has already been involved in a number of Health and Social Care progression activities on behalf of the Network. These activities have involved Aimhigher, Skills for Care, De Montfort University, University of Leicester and the University of Northampton. The activities included study skills seminars, university lecture/workshop, admission tutor events, a transitions session and workshops with Skills for Care ambassadors and college students.


Lifelong Learning Networks are established across England to develop and promote opportunities for people with vocational qualifications and/or experience to progress more easily into and through higher education. The networks are made up of partnerships of organisations, particularly educational organisations such as universities and further education colleges who are working together to streamline access to higher education, and open up routes to graduate and post-graduate levels. The funding for the network is provided by HEFCE and is over a period of three years.

The Skills for Sustainable Communities Lifelong Learning Network covers a sub-region of the East Midlands across Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire and Rutland. It is led by the University of Leicester. The Network is concentrating on four industry sectors in the first instance, selected in line with regional priorities. These are:

· Health and Social Care and Children’s and Young People’s Services led by University of Northampton
1 Leadership, Management and Enterprise in:
· Creative Industries Sector led by De Montfort University
1 Food and Drink Sector led by Lincoln University and NTI Ltd
2 Construction Sector led by Lincoln College and NTI Ltd
Some of the first activities of the Skills for Sustainable Communities Lifelong Learning Network include:
· Developing new courses such as Foundation Degrees
· Developing new modules for courses and bridging courses to make them more accessible for vocational learners and learners already in employment.
· Providing opportunities for FE and HE staff to work together and see how their curricula can be aligned more closely.
· Developing Information, Advice and Guidance services for learners.
· Researching staff development needs and providing staff development activities, such as training and updating for Admissions Tutors on vocational qualifications.


· Bishop Grosseteste University College Lincoln
· Brooksby Melton College
· De Montfort University
· Gateway College
· Grantham College
· John Leggott College
· Leicester College
· Lincoln College
· Loughborough College
· Loughborough University
· Moulton College
· Northampton College
· North Warwickshire and Hinckley College
· Regent College
· South Leicestershire College
· Stamford College
· Stephenson College
· The Open University in the East Midlands
· Tresham Institute
· University of Northampton
· University of Leicester
· University of Lincoln
· Wyggeston and QE College
If you would like to find out more about the Network contact us on 0116 252 3693, email: or visit our website

Ather Mirza | alfa
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