A new course from the Open University aims to help universities support care-experienced students.
The free Corporate Parenting in Higher Education course raises awareness of what it’s like to be care-experienced and provides university staff with the tools they need to support students who have come from the care system.
Funded by the Scottish Funding Council, the course was written and co-produced with the help of care-experienced students, national charity Who Cares? Scotland and the Open University in Scotland in collaboration with 15 other higher education institutions.
Shona Littlejohn, depute director, student experience and widening access at The Open University in Scotland, said: “This course helps staff better understand the unique challenges care-experienced students face in accessing higher education and supports institutions to fulfil their vital role as corporate parents. Every staff member in every college and university has a role to play.
“The Open University in Scotland is delighted to have facilitated the development of this resource which is a practical example of the collaboration expected of Scotland’s corporate parents. The partnership with Who Cares? Scotland, SFC and others in the sector has been invaluable. Huge thanks go to the many care-experienced people who contributed to and shaped content. This has helped ensure their voices and experience are central to the resource.”
Claudia Macdonald, director of influencing at Who Cares? Scotland, said: “Often it is the first experience with an institution that creates the lasting impression for a care experienced person. Where this isn’t positive or respectful for the learner because of or in part due to their care experience, this will limit the opportunities universities can provide this able and willing community of learners.
“I believe that many more care experienced learners would consider going to university if they felt reassured that those guiding or delivering their teaching were more conscious of both their duties as corporate parents as well as the lived circumstances of those with experience of care.
“We would encourage all universities to use this module to ensure that the OU are exemplars in delivering a positive learning experience to the care experienced community, from their very first interaction to the day they gain their qualification.”
The course supports the Scottish Funding Council’s national ambition, launched in January 2020, to ensure that care experienced people have the same opportunity to access higher education as their peers.
Dr Donna MacKinnon, director of access, learning and outcomes at the Scottish Funding Council, said: “The module has been carefully designed by the Open University with a great deal of collaboration with other partners. It represents a really practical and positive step forward and I’m very pleased and proud that the Scottish Funding Council has been a part of its development.”