Learn through your union

Wales TUC in partnership with The Open University in Wales

Discover flexible ways you can learn new skills, develop your career and unlock your potential.

A learning partnership

Wales TUC believes everyone should have the opportunity to learn new skills, build confidence and develop their career. We have partnered with The Open University in Wales to help upskill workers in Wales.

Why this site is for you

If you’re curious about studying with a university but feel you don’t have the time or the money, this site can help you:

Decide what to study

Find ways to study that fit in with your busy life and your job, even if you’ve never studied before

Get financial support for your study through the Wales Union Learning Fund (WULF) as well as other funding options and free online learning

Find out about union-led learning support for workers.

Begin your learning journey today and change your future.

Types of study available to you

OU courses and qualifications

Set your ambition free. Whatever you want to achieve, The Open University (OU) can help you make it happen. You don’t need any prior qualifications to study with The OU and you can boost your confidence with an Access module as you work towards your ultimate qualification goal.

Upskill with a microcredential

These professional development short courses are designed to help you quickly upskill and get ahead. Gain specialised skills in just 10–12 weeks with flexible online learning.

Free online learning

The OU’s free online learning website, OpenLearn, offers over 10,000 hours of free learning. Discover articles, videos and games as well as expertly written online courses on a huge range of subjects. Learn at your own pace, track your progress, and earn digital badges and certificates.

Funding your study

The Wales Union Learning Fund (WULF) is provided by the Welsh Government to help support union-led adult learning in the workplace. All workers in Wales have the opportunity to access the fund, and learning such as microcredentials and Open University Access courses can be supported by WULF.

Alternatively, financial support is available for eligible part-time undergraduate and postgraduate students in Wales. If you have a disability or specific learning difficulty, you may qualify for Disabled Students’ allowance or one of The Open University scholarships or bursaries.

Studying with The OU

The main reason we are called The Open University is that we are open to all. There are no formal academic entry requirements. Our students are diverse, and every year we help thousands of people achieve extraordinary things. Where you are in life shouldn’t limit where you can go.

If you are looking to get ahead, upskill, are determined to succeed and prepared to work hard, then we can get you started. This is not just about formal higher education, but rather gaining skills at every level to enhance your life and work.

Our courses are designed to meet the needs of unconfident learners. We coach you through your studies with dedicated tutor support and student forums to help you build both your confidence and skills as you progress. Access courses can be supported through the Wales Union Learning Fund (WULF).

Upskill with a microcredential

This partnership between The OU in Wales, Wales TUC and unions, provides workers in Wales with an exciting opportunity to build in-demand career skills and knowledge by studying a microcredential funded by the Wales Union Learning Fund (WULF). *

These world-class professional development short courses are designed to help you quickly upskill and get ahead. Gain specialised skills in just 10–12 weeks with flexible online learning in leadership, business management, computing, project management, the environment, teaching and much more. 

*eligibility applies

Free online learning

Interested in a new subject and want to dig deeper? Whether it’s a five-minute exploration or a 24-hour expedition into learning that you’re after, you can find it on OpenLearn for free.

OpenLearn is The OU’s free learning platform, providing free education to all as part of our social remit. We are proud to say it reaches over 10 million learners each year. Whether you need help with maths, English or Welsh, getting ahead in your career or managing your money, then we can help. Start small and grow your knowledge and portfolio.

Complete courses to earn certificates and badges in recognition of your new skills. Share these with your family, friends, and employers.

Courses available to you

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Arts and languages Access module

With this Access module you'll explore the broad, but related, areas of arts, humanities and language. Each subject is introduced and explained at a comfortable pace to develop, or refresh, your knowledge of topics including history, art history, English literature and English language studies.

Psychology, social science and wellbeing Access module

This Access module gives you the chance to dip into some of our most popular subjects, such as psychology, childhood and youth, early years, health and social wellbeing, sport, education, and social sciences. 

Science, technology and maths Access module

With a mix of theoretical study and some practical experiments, this Access module can help you build up skills for future study in STEM subjects, no matter where you're starting from. 

An introduction to business and management

This key introductory OU level 1 module provides an accessible and comprehensive introduction to business and management in a globalised world. Through readings and international case studies, you’ll explore a wide range of topics in contemporary business and management.

Open degree

The Open degree allows you to bring together different areas of study in a completely flexible way to develop knowledge and skills. It's a degree with a difference. Free from the restriction of a subject-specific specialism, you can set the direction of your learning.

Degree in Health and Social Care

This degree provides you with a sound and critical understanding of health and social care policy, theory, and practice, which is essential in today's fast-changing care sector.

Introduction to social care

Gain a solid introduction to social care and the role it plays in supporting the independence and wellbeing of those who receive care. Discover the essential skills needed to work in the sector and examine whether a career in social care is right for you.

Cisco: Python Programming (OpenEDG)

This microcredential will help kick start your career in programming, whether you’re just starting out or already working as a digital technology professional. You’ll gain industry-recognised skills and enhance your employment and career progression opportunities.

Climate Change: Transforming your Organisation for Sustainability

If you’re wanting to make positive change in your organisation and are unsure how to go about it, or if you’re looking to advance your career in sustainability or add sustainability know-how to your skills set, this microcredential will give you the knowledge and practical skills you need.

Introduction to digital marketing

Whether you’re new to digital marketing or want to build on existing experience, this course will introduce you to the core principles and latest trends that will help you plan first-class, user-centric campaigns and guide you through the dynamic digital marketing landscape.

Business Management: Project Management

Whether you’re already involved in projects or looking to move into a project management role, this microcredential will help you get to grips with the fundamentals and how to apply them to a project with confidence.

Business Management: People Management and Leadership

This microcredential will introduce you to frameworks and ideas that will help you become an ethical and inclusive people manager and leader. You’ll learn the critical tools and techniques needed to adapt and respond to the changing needs of your organisation, and further your career.

Everyday maths 1 (Wales)

Have you ever noticed how often you need maths skills in everyday life? This free course is an introduction to Level 1 Essential Skills in maths that’s designed to inspire you to improve your current maths skills and help you to remember any areas that you may have forgotten.

Everyday English 1

Would you like to improve your current English skills or perhaps remember areas you may have forgotten? This free course serves as good preparation for studying the formal English Essential Skills Level 1, which is available in Wales.

Croeso: Beginners' Welsh

This free course, Croeso: Beginners' Welsh, is taken from Croeso, a beginners' language module that concentrates on Welsh as a tool for communication, but it also provides some insights into Welsh societies and cultures through printed and audio materials.

Hybrid working: wellbeing and inclusion

How is your workforce doing? What impact did the post-COVID-19 ‘pivot to online’ and the processes and practices that have followed have on staff wellbeing? This course will explore what workplace wellbeing means in a hybrid working world.

So, you want to be a nurse? A brief introduction to nursing

This free course provides an overview of what nursing entails. Focusing on nursing in the UK specifically, but also looking at its place globally, you will learn about the four fields of nursing in the UK, what nurse training involves, as well as what makes a great nurse.

Supporting children's mental health and wellbeing

Children’s mental health is a global concern and children are increasingly being diagnosed with mental health conditions. This course focuses on the mental health and wellbeing of babies and young children (aged 0–8 years), and its importance.

Your questions answered

What is the nature of the learning partnership behind this website?

The purpose of the relationship between The OU in Wales with Wales TUC and unions in Wales is to offer education and learning opportunities for workers in Wales. This offer was initially focused on The OU’s informal (free to access) learning resources. It has since expanded to support formal (paid) study through the Wales Union Learning Fund (WULF), which is what this website has been designed to communicate.

Through an application to your union’s WULF project, certain formal courses can be paid for in part or in full by WULF. Please note that an application to access WULF must be submitted and agreed by the relevant union’s WULF lead.

Sounds a great opportunity, but is there a catch?

This is a great opportunity for you. There are no catches.  If you start an OU course, we hope you will enjoy it and successfully complete it. But if you drop out of the course, there is no penalty; you will not be charged for any fees.

To see if OU learning is right for you, maybe start with one or two free courses on OpenLearn, and then you can progress on to something a little more formal.

Who is this opportunity open to?

This opportunity is aimed at members of unions in Wales, though support is open to all workers in Wales.

If you currently meet one of the following criteria, then you can express an interest and find out about applying for funding for the formal (paid) courses offered. The course fees will be paid directly to the OU for you by the relevant WULF Project if you are eligible.

  • A worker, or recently made redundant.
  • A member of a union in Wales.
  • Non-union members are also potentially eligible; however each union will have its own support and application structure.

Don’t forget that anyone can also access the free courses provided on the OU’s OpenLearn platform.

How long will my course take?

The OU offers a huge range of courses. Some free learning courses take less than an hour to complete, but most are a little more substantial. Most OU courses are self-paced, so you can take as long as you need to complete them. They are designed so you can study around your other commitments such as family or work.

Both OU Access courses and microcredentials can be funded by WULF, an Access course is typically 30 weeks of study and a microcredential is typically 10–12 weeks of study.

Browse the Study with the OU page to learn more.

What qualifications do I need to start an OU course?

None. The OU was established to be open to all people, independent of their previous qualifications or educational background.  Wherever you are today, we think we can find a course that works for you, from improving your basic skills in maths or English up to studying for a degree or postgraduate qualification.

The OU is there for people who want to learn and this is reflected in how each course is designed. It aims to build your learning confidence alongside new skills and knowledge.