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2 septembre 2011

Report charts growth of lifelong learning

By David Jobbins. A study of the conditions that enable universities in Europe to develop successful lifelong learning strategies has revealed that the vital supporting legislation is present in only two-thirds of the countries surveyed. Download Report charts growth of lifelong learning.
Engaging in Lifelong Learning: Shaping inclusive and responsive university strategies (SIRUS) is based on the outcomes of a two-year European Commission-supported project involving 29 universities from 18 different European countries. Its findings were presented at a two-day conference at the University of Southampton on Wednesday.
The study looked at the framework needed for the successful development of lifelong learning. According to the participating universities, the two most important conditions were funding and legislation. Only 12 of the 18 countries represented by universities in the project believed such 'supporting legislation' was in place.
Just as crucially, only four countries reported that specific funding for the development of lifelong learning activities was available. Many universities approached for the study said that their respective governments had been slow to respond to the commitments in the 2008 European University Association Lifelong Learning Charter.
Irrespective of the framework conditions in place, the report identifies four common elements when universities develop and implement strategies. These involve diversifying student populations, and diversifying services to learners, educational provision and external partnerships.
Both support from the university leadership and the proactive engagement of staff was critical. Partnerships and cooperation with other universities and also with non-university partners, including the private sector, were identified as another strategic priority.
Hanne Smidt, co-author of the report and a senior adviser at the EUA, said: "The project results indicate that, while national legal and financial frameworks play an important role for universities, the single most important push factor for developing successful lifelong learning has been the active engagement of university leadership in creating inclusive and responsive university strategies".
The SIRUS project was carried out by a consortium, led by the European University Association, including the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities, the European Access Network and the European University Continuing Education Network. The report is available here.
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