Reporter 415, 23 February 1998


Lifelong learning deferred

Lifelong learning is central to the Government’s thinking about the future of further and higher education. But news that the Government has decided to issue a consultative paper, rather than a White Paper, implies that decisions on funding and specific policy initiatives have been deferred pending reactions from the HE and FE sectors.

Publication of the paper was originally planned for before Christmas but, after several redrafts, it is now to be published on February 25 as a consultation paper, along with the Government’s responses to the Dearing and Kennedy reports into higher and further education.

The Learning Age: Towards a Learning Revolution for the 21st Century, will cover the whole spectrum of post-compulsory education and training and there is likely to be a focus upon bank skills training and further education.

There are concerns in Higher Education that, important though these issues are, the Dearing Report’s emphases on access and widening participation in HE should be seen as centrally important in Government thinking.

Lord Dearing, chairman of the national committee of inquiry into higher education, warned the Government it would be making a “serious error” if the paper appeared to marginalise higher education. He said: “Lifelong learning is for all, and that includes those who can benefit from higher education. Any vision of lifelong learning must see higher education as an integral part of it.”

Dick Taylor, Professor of Continuing Education at the University, said: “The publication of the Government’s paper and responses to Dearing and Kennedy will be of major importance for HE.

“In my view Leeds needs to respond positively and imaginatively to the new agenda. There will be real opportunities for the whole University in the lifelong learning area.”

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