Ten Royal Navy sailors have become the first students to embark on a new Kingston University course.
The two-year, part-time Foundation Degree in Operations Management, run by the Kingston Business School, will enable service men and women to attain an academic qualification complementing their on-the-job experience.
The course includes modules on innovation and entrepreneurship, information management and human resources.
Eight of the first group of students to sign up for the Kingston course work at HMS Collingwood in Fareham, Hampshire, while two are ship-based.
They will complete the bulk of their course work by computer using the Universityâ€™s online web-based learning management system, Blackboard.
Naval Accreditation Manager Lieutenant Max Sennett said returning to the books would enhance the future prospects of the warrant officers and senior rates by consolidating their specialist skills and giving them official recognition for their work-related knowledge.
â€œTodayâ€™s Royal Navy is a dynamic and supportive organisation committed to enhancing the continuing professional development of its staff in every way possible,â€ Lieutenant Sennett said.
â€œWe are determined to redress the situation where, in the past, many senior officers who had dedicated their entire working lives to the Navy had no official qualifications to show for the huge amount of ability and experience they had accumulated along the way.â€
Petty Officer Mark Abrams, 33, from Dunfermline, who is based at HMS Collingwood, is confident his Foundation Degree course work will pay dividends in his career.
â€œIâ€™m really looking forward to putting what I learn from my Kingston University lecturers into practice and becoming a better manager,â€ he said.
Course leader Deborah Pinder-Young said the programme had been designed to fit around the studentsâ€™ ongoing duties both at sea and back at base.
â€œOne of the key features of the course is that it is flexible enough to incorporate aspects of each studentâ€™s workplace role into the curriculum,â€ Mrs Pinder-Young said. Â
â€œThe framework for the course means we have the scope to easily adapt it to suit other Armed Forces personnel. We also hope to roll it out in the civilian workforce, catering for employees heavily involved in field work, such as environment officers and police men and women.â€
The University already has a strong track record of tailoring work-based learning programmes to meet the needs of the Armed Forces.
Kingstonâ€™s MSc in Technology (Maritime Operations) for naval officers has been running for five years, while equipment support staff from the Armyâ€™s Royal Mechanical and Electrical Engineers (REME) have been enhancing their skills completing the MSc in Technology (Equipment Support).