Students thank Work Based Learning scheme to help them into Higher Education

Thanks to the Work Based Integrated Studies (WBIS) programme offered by the University, another cohort of students will be celebrating this Thursday as they graduate from the University of Chester, after achieving foundation and honours degrees without having to leave their day jobs.

The University’s WBIS programme allows professionals who already work in industries to gain academic recognition of learning undertaken primarily in their workplace, in order to obtain a higher education qualification. The programme offers learners the opportunity to be taught elements of the course at workshops or online and through distance learning, incorporating work-based projects, if desired.

Wearing their caps and gowns at the Cathedral on November 3 will be the first cohort of 26 students to have successfully completed a foundation degree in Applied Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) in Personal and Organisational Development through the organisation ‘Learning to Inspire’ and the WBIS programme.

‘Learning to Inspire’ is an organisation based in Chester and a partner of the University, which provides leadership and organisational development training for individuals and businesses. Initially forming a partnership to assist in the University’s Employer Engagement Project, its aim is to engage businesses in Higher Education (HE).

Jane Douglas, one of the Directors of ‘Learning to Inspire’ said: “Leaders and managers who have undertaken the programme have reported an increase in their own ability to focus, communicate and inspire their team’s performance. The effect of this improvement can be measured by enhanced business operations and increased business results.

“The course is unique as there are no other NLP practitioner programmes that can offer individuals the ability to achieve a full HE accredited foundation degree, this is the first! It focuses on NLP and its specific application in Leadership, Learning and Organisational Development and Coaching, giving people NLP tools and skills but grounded in their workplace application.”

Lizzy Williams, Professional Development Manager at the University added: “‘Learning to Inspire’ has now seen the first 26 students successfully complete a foundation degree in less than two years. This is quite an achievement given that these students have maintained work and family commitments alongside their part-time study.

“The Work Based and Integrative Studies programme provides the framework required to create bespoke awards which utilise an organisation’s in-house training as the foundations for a higher education award. Students then have the option to ‘top-up’ their award to a full degree with the WBIS programme. Several students who have caught the ‘learning bug’ have gone on to do this.”

Lauren Proctor, 27, from Southport, who works as Business Support Project Officer at Lancashire County Council was able to build on the foundation degree that she had obtained from Southport College, to obtain an honours degree from the University of Chester via the WBIS programme.

As a result of her research, significant new strategies have been put in place by management at her workplace to enhance communication and team performance within the organisation.

Lauren said: “I was able to use work scenarios throughout the course which made it more meaningful when completing practical-based examples, and it also gave me the opportunity to practice my skills on the job and continuously develop areas for improvement.”

“I chose to study at Chester due to the flexible work based study option that the WBIS course provides. The course enabled me to work full time hours and complete studies at the same time, without having to attend extra night classes.”

Lauren will also be graduating with pride at Chester Cathedral this week, accompanied by parents Ray and Cheryl.