Open University

Open University Click to enlarge

The Open University (OU)  offers flexible, work-based learning programmes spanning social work, social care and healthcare for staff at all levels. We are the UK’s leading provider of social work degrees, working with around 250 employers, training 10% of qualified social workers in the UK. Working with employers we tap into the experience of staff already working in social care: students on our social work programme are typically studying part-time alongside working in a support role with social workers. The experience OU students bring to social work study means that, when they complete the programme and qualify as social workers themselves, they hit the ground running, become high calibre practitioners who stay in service with the employer who supported them to qualify.

We also offer employers a shortened postgraduate route to qualifying as a Social Worker- enabling employers to tap into the seam of graduate talent in their workforce. The work-based postgraduate qualifying programme Diploma (PG Dip) and Masters in Social Work (MA) will enable suitably experienced and qualified graduates (of any discipline) the potential to qualify as social workers in less than 18 months.

Step-on options for support staff: 
As well as our Social Work degree we offer a Certificate of Higher Education (Cert HE) in Social Care (FHEQ Level 4) developed specifically for support staff working in social care. The Cert HE is a core component of a highly successful pilot programme supported by Care Council for Wales to develop Social Services Practitioners in Wales. The Cert can support employers across the UK (not just Wales) to develop, motivate and help retain good support staff.

New developments:

Social Worker Degree Apprenticeship
Our Social Worker Degree Apprenticeship is a practice-based learning programme that combines on- and off-the-job learning and development, delivered flexibly around the demands of your workplace. Apprentices will develop new skills and knowledge whilst carrying out real work as part of a team in a social care setting.

Through completion of this apprenticeship, learners will gain:

  • Practice experience and evidence of assessed competency in the workplace
  • New skills and knowledge preparing them to take on more demanding roles within social care delivery
  • A professionally-qualifying degree in Social Work

For employers, it provides the opportunity to develop and retain current staff as well as attract new talent. Because apprentices study alongside work, they will put their learning into practice immediately, for the positive benefit of service users. 

For more information about our Social Worker Degree Apprenticeship, click here.

For more information on any of our social work/social care programmes please visit