In a significant step towards upgrading Dorset’s educational offerings, Kingston Maurward College is teaming up with The Open University (OU) to enrich local skills training and support economic growth in the area. With a £10 million national programme backing this initiative, which spans across nine further education colleges in England, the aim is clear: expand technical courses, facilitate higher-paying job opportunities, and stimulate the local economy.
Located just a stone’s throw away from Dorchester, Kingston Maurward College, well-known for its impressive 750-acre estate and top-notch facilities, is set to become a pivotal hub for higher education in the region.
The collaboration, supported by the Office for Students and the Department for Education, ensures Kingston Maurward College will gain from The Open University’s specialised support over the next two years. This partnership will significantly broaden the array of higher education courses available within Dorset.
Tom Hallam, Deputy Principal of Kingston Maurward College, expressed his enthusiasm: “This collaboration with The Open University, leveraging our new University Centre, will notably enhance our higher education offerings. It’s not only a significant boost for higher education in Dorset and the neighbouring areas but also vital, given Dorset’s status as a ‘cold spot’ for higher education.”
Vice-Chancellor of The Open University, Professor Tim Blackman, highlighted the importance of advanced skills training in fuelling local economies and driving business growth. The UK Government’s funding has enabled the OU to help further education colleges, like Kingston Maurward, to enhance their technical higher education offerings within their communities.
The Open University stands as the UK’s largest academic institution and is a recognised leader in flexible distance learning. Since its establishment in 1969, the OU has educated over 2.3 million students worldwide and currently supports over 208,000 students.
Notably, 71% of registered students manage their studies alongside full-time or part-time employment, and staff from 76 FTSE 100 companies have been sponsored to take OU courses. With a firm commitment to research and societal impact, 82% of its research impact has been assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent.
Meanwhile, Kingston Maurward College continues to offer a wide array of courses, ranging from agriculture, wildlife conservation, and equine, to animal welfare, science, horticulture, and business studies. Each is designed to inspire learners and equip them with essential skills for life and work.
In essence, this alliance between two educational heavyweights is designed to pave the way for a future where higher education and advanced skills training become a staple in Dorset, fostering improved employability, economic enhancement, and societal development in the region. This endeavour not only aims to brighten the prospects for the present and future generations of students but also to invigorate the local economy, ensuring its vitality for years to come.