A “HIDDEN gem” of Oldham’s education system recently celebrated the annual success of its students.
And the University Campus Oldham (UCO) has ambitious plans to play a more prominent role fulfilling the educational needs and improving employment prospects of the borough’s young people.
UCO currently runs courses for 600 students, 50 per-cent of whom live within three miles of the town centre site.
Director of Learning Katherine Griffiths says the goal is to potentially triple the number of places available and introduce more professional courses to address the needs of employers.
Katherine was speaking at the celebration day where students mingled with local dignitaries including the Mayor of Oldham, Cllr Javid Iqbal, OMBC Education and Culture Cabinet Member Cllr Paul Jacques, Oldham Athletic’s Head of Youth Simon Cooper, Latics’ stars Jamie Stott and Cameron Dummigan, plus Oldham born Sky TV rugby league commentator Barrie McDermott.
Cllr Jacques described UCO as “an asset for the people of Oldham”.
He added: “What we need to do is use every possible means to promote the university level courses.
“Why would you want to go to Manchester or Huddersfield when you have got these courses and these excellent tutors on your doorstep?
On the wider education issues in Oldham Cllr Jacques added: “We have got to make sure every child has an opportunity to go to a good or outstanding school.
“We want every school to be ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by 2020.
“It has only ever been done once by one local authority in 2015 but that’s not going to stop Oldham doing it.
“We know with a good education your life chances exceed beyond all expectations.”
Katherine told the Independent: “We have a vibrant history, initially as part of the University of Huddersfield.
“Huddersfield have moved away now but we are partnering with UCLAN (Preston), Sheffield Hallam, University of Bedfordshire and Teesside University to run a range of courses for the local community that are employer facing that challenge people.
“We have 600 students, most of whom are from Oldham, and 50 per-cent live within two or three miles of the campus.
“It could be 1,000 or 2,000 and that’s what we want to do.
“We are also part of Oldham College and get a lot of students come through from there as well.
“We want to work more with employers and get professional courses involved so we are addressing employers’ needs.”