Reporter 416, 9 March 1998


Learning through a lifetime

The University’s professor of Continuing Education, Dick Taylor, has welcomed the Government’s green paper on lifelong learning, launched on 25 February, with its stress upon making learning at all levels more accessible for adults.

Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett called for a revolution in attitudes to learning and revealed details of a new University for Industry and plans for individual learning accounts.

Ministers have said some 7m adults have no formal qualifications, 21m have not reached level three (equivalent to two A-levels) and more than one in five have poor literacy and numeracy skills.

Widening access is the top priority. Last October the Prime Minister pledged funds to allow an extra 500,000 further and higher education places. An adult and community education fund will be set up next year with £5m from the Government and matched funding from charities and companies. A £2m employee education development fund for trade unions to develop workplace education will also be created.

There are plans to set up a system allowing students in higher education to move between institutions with ‘credits’ for completed courses. A new Institute of Teaching and Learning, recommended by Lord Dearing, will provide training to raise teaching standards in universities.

Professor Taylor said: “We are well placed to take forward this new agenda. For many years the University has provided learning opportunities for thousands of adults in Leeds and the region to study at university level.” In more recent years the University has developed a wide range of programmes – from work in the inner city with disadvantaged communities through to part-time degrees and postgraduate professional updating courses.

“We are particularly keen to work with other educational partners and the local communities to develop the Lifelong Learning plans,” said Professor Taylor.

• The Government’s response to the Dearing Report on Higher Education was ‘published’ on February 25. Unfortunately it could not be found as we went to press, either on the Government’s misleadingly-named website (www.open.gov.uk) or on paper. The Department for Education and Employment promised to send it to Vice-Chancellors on March 4. Reports have appeared in the THES; watch this space.

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