The Open University

Dementia awareness workshop

In 2004 UNISON and The Open University joined forces to open up doors to learning for public service workers, and over nearly two decades thousands of UNISON members have taken advantage of our partnership to get qualifications, broaden their skills and knowledge, and move on in their careers.

We’re now working together to review and refresh the continuing professional development (CPD) offer for UNISON members, making it more relevant in a world of work and education that’s changing all the time.

This page will be updated as soon as we have more information.

What do you want to know about?


OpenLearn is the Open University’s web access point for its open and free online resources. You will find around 11,000 hours of learning materials, including 8,000 hours taken from OU undergraduate and postgraduate courses. You can improve your study and employability skills in a range of subjects including health, social care, early years, money and finance, project planning, digital skills, communication skills, and leadership and management.


These include six badged courses developed with the Social Partnerships Network especially with UNISON members in mind:

  • Introducing Practical Healthcare – introductory course for healthcare support staff who might be looking to enhance their knowledge and skills in order to improve their career progression within the health sector
  • Supporting Children’s Development – of particular interest to teaching assistants and other school staff
  • Caring for Adults – introductory course for carers or those considering a care role
  • Planning a Better Future – introductory course for anyone considering changing jobs, or wondering how to move up the ladder or return to work after a break
  • Taking Part in the Voluntary Sector – introductory course for people considering volunteering or aiming to progress within the voluntary sector
  • Starting Your Small Business – introductory course for anyone thinking of setting up a small business or becoming self-employed. Covers structures, customers, and responsibilities, and looks at the common features shared by successful small businesses, as well as the common pitfalls to avoid.

Social Partnerships Network badged courses

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Formal study with the Open University

The Open University was established with the aim of opening up higher education to people for whom the traditional approach didn’t work. Many UNISON members study part time alongside their day job. That might be to enhance their career prospects, to change their career completely, or simply for their own personal fulfilment. If you’re interested, take a look at the Open University’s website for more information.

You may be able to claim a UNISON learning grant to support your studies.

The Open University: distance learning

The Open University: learning to get on in your career

Study skills

Financial support

The Open University

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