Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Going the Distance Investing in Technical Uni Opens; Uni Opens Doors on Learning

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Going the Distance Investing in Technical Uni Opens; Uni Opens Doors on Learning

Article excerpt

TEESSIDE University has launched one of its most ambitious distance learning projects.

The Open Learning (Engineering) course will be offering the new style of Edexcel format HNC and HND awards at Level 4 and 5, which are equivalent to the first two years of a traditional undergraduate degree, to pupils unable to attend conventional classroom-based courses.

Speaking at its launch event, Prof Caroline MacDonald, the University's Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Learning and Student Experience said: "Distance or Open Learning is going to be very important for higher education in the 21st century.

"I know some people say it can never be the same as traditional university education, but I think the time for comparing open learning and traditional higher education is long gone.

"The internet and online technology have opened distance learning across geographical space and universities have developed expertise to enhance their technological capabilities as well to create new and different communities of students.

"So distance learning isn't an isolated activity. It is different from the traditional university experience, but there are still lots of opportunities to communicate with your peers and to give a different and fulfilling experience."

The project is building on the work of the Cleveland Open Learning Unit (COLU), which supported the training and education needs of the growing oil and gas industries and then expanded to also serve the process industry. It became part of the University in 2002.

Prof MacDonald, said: "We hope, and we expect, that Teesside University Open Learning for engineers will continue to be an exciting provider for the industry and that it will create new communities and new learning spaces for engineers and engineering students."

At the launch, Dr Stan Higgins, Chief Executive Office, North-East Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC), said the loss of technically-qualified apprentices since the demise of the industries like shipbuilding and coal mining and ICI on Teesside meant there was now a dearth of technically qualified people.

"The average age of people in the chemical industry is 54 on Teesside and just to maintain what we've got we will need 10,000 new technically-qualified people in the next ten years. …

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