ILM & higher education – one step closer to a degree

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The benefits of ILM qualifications in developing practical skills and knowledge of leaders and managers worldwide are widely known – qualifications develop core knowledge and practical skills to enable learners to thrive in their career and enhance productivity and performance.  However, it is not widely known that some universities accept ILM qualifications as a fast-track entry to work-based degrees, increasing accessibility to higher education. To find out more, we spoke to Michael Punt, Director of Learning at Work and Apprenticeships at the University of Portsmouth.

Work-based degrees are becoming increasingly important for many universities, who are successfully building commercial programmes that make it possible for ambitious individuals to study while they work. Crucially, these higher education pursuits allow those who never had the opportunity to obtain degrees or diplomas directly after school, to do so without having to sacrifice their income. And in fact, their employment becomes context for applying their learning, an integral part of the course syllabus.

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One thing that makes these courses so boundary-pushing – and so accessible – is that application requirements are no longer based purely on prior academic achievement. Most work-based higher education qualifications will now take previous learning and work experience into account. In other words, all previous qualifications and work accomplishments will form part of the student’s application – and may even help to shorten the qualification period, by being counted towards the qualification itself.

Considering these dynamics, and how the University of Portsmouth views them, Michael Punt says, “It’s our purpose to make higher education available to people, while they work. To insist that degrees are best earned straight after school/college is not correct for all people. It’s not as relevant today, with so many people going straight into work environments after school or college. The benefits to people who work and learn at the same time are astounding and allowing people to have this opportunity is the mission of the Learning at Work department at the University of Portsmouth.”

ILM qualifications are a fast-track route to under-graduate or post-graduate programmes at the University of Portsmouth. Learners with an ILM qualification can demonstrate that they have core knowledge and practical experience that will count towards their work-based degree and shorten their degree pathway.

Why work-based learning makes sense for higher education

Institutions like ILM and the University of Portsmouth are committed to making higher education and career progression more accessible to workers in the UK, and abroad. Michael Punt commends employers who encourage, enable or contribute to the development of their employees through work-based learning programmes, saying that these organisations are not only powering-up their own workforce, but the economy as a whole. He goes to on explain the benefits, pointing out how work-based learning is crucial to the future of upskilling and career progression for those who are looking for alternative routes to higher education:

  • Distance learning means that higher education is accessible to anyone, anywhere. (Michael Punt estimates that 50-60% of University of Portsmouth work-based learners are international students).
  • Distance learning allows students to save on travel costs, accommodation costs and/or relocation fees.
  • Being able to work while learning helps students to pay for their tuition fees; many employers contribute, recognising the benefit that improved skills will have on productivity.
  • Work-based learners can set their own pace, within reason. Each learner is unique and can structure their course progression around their work opportunities and demands, around their personal family life, and their capacity to dedicate time to study. They’re permitted to “do life”, while learning. 
  • Work projects become a part of the syllabus.  This enriches the learning experience and gives students an opportunity to practice their knowledge every day.

University of Portsmouth graduate, (Lesley Powell - BA Business) speaks of her work-based learning experience: “My learning really helped me to progress up the ladder. I was given greater responsibilities, a new project to lead, which offered me the opportunity to create new experiences that contributed to my degree. It’s given me a huge leap forward at my company and I’ve been able to achieve something that was never possible for me before.” 

At ILM, we’re committed to working closely with enterprising universities like Portsmouth, as well as people-invested employers, to make higher education more accessible and more beneficial to those who may otherwise never have the opportunity to obtain such qualifications.

Find out more about ILM qualifications