A university education has come a step closer for tens of thousands of people doing work-related qualifications thanks to a new scheme backed by Uxbridge College.

Students doing practical courses in everything from health and social care to business will get more support to progress on to university degrees, under a new agreement by colleges and universities.

Traditionally, students on work-based courses, including BTECs, NVQs, HNDs and City & Guilds, have tended to go into jobs rather than to university.

Under the new agreement between 15 colleges and universities, including Uxbridge College and Brunel University, both based in Uxbridge, west London, more will be done to create opportunities for these students to do degrees by:

* Ensuring higher education courses at university and further education colleges fit in with students' jobs and family commitments

* Making sure students on work-related courses know that university-level study is an option and encouraging them to consider applying

* Guiding students through the process of getting on to a university-level course

* Ensuring people on work-related courses are treated equally in the selection process

The agreement is also designed to help get more people qualified in the skills needed by businesses in west London.

Laraine Smith, Principal, said: "At Uxbridge College we have always encouraged our students to consider the widest range of options, and any scheme which helps broaden those choices is extremely welcome. Being part of this project with other colleges and universities who want the same thing is a great way to carry on that work. Learners will gain from west London colleges and universities working together to ensure a comprehensive and high quality Higher Education offer."

Each year more than 200 students at Uxbridge College study Higher Education courses such as Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) and Foundation Degrees, and more than 600 progress to universities, many choosing to stay locally at universities such as Brunel, Thames Valley University (TVU), Bucks New University, and Westminster.

The West London Lifelong Learning Network (WLLLN) Progression Accord, which promises to work towards these goals, was signed on 14 December by the 15 partners.

WLLLN's activities centre around three West London priority areas: Health & Social Care; Heathrow (travel and tourism, hospitality and catering, retail, logistics, aeronautical engineering, environmental sustainability, business and IT services); and Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics.

* For more information about study at Uxbridge College call 01895 853333.

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