Importance of UIL’s work on lifelong learning at universities highlighted at 52nd eucen conference
Date: 8 June to 10 June 2022
Where: Budapest (Hungary)
UIL presented its work on the contribution of higher education institutions to lifelong learning during the 52nd European university continuing education network (eucen) conference, hosted by the Central European University in Budapest from 8 to 10 June 2022.
The results of a global survey conducted by the UNESCO Institute of Lifelong Learning (UIL) and the International Association of Universities (IAU) of nearly 400 higher education institutions worldwide revealed many promising trends in lifelong learning in higher education worldwide, but also important areas where stronger action is needed to ensure lifelong learning opportunities for all.
A set of UIL policy recommendations highlighted that strengthening policy frameworks and institutional capacities such as funding and quality assurance procedures, while promoting flexible learning pathways, would expand much-needed access for nontraditional learners in higher education to meet future societal challenges.
The global survey results and policy recommendations by UIL provided a knowledge base to inform discussions among higher education representatives and other stakeholders in Budapest. Conference participants assessed the status quo and the way forward for European higher education institutions by looking at the dimensions of participation, performance and partnership. Many higher education institutions in Europe have responded to calls to become genuine lifelong learning institutions and support the creation of a lifelong learning culture. This includes initiating effective and innovative forms of knowledge transfer for sustainable economies and inclusive societies by enhancing skills and developing competences for non-traditional learners.
Overall, the conference reaffirmed the importance of higher education institutions for lifelong learning, but also called for continued efforts to transform higher education institutions into lifelong learning institutions. UIL supports Member States and other stakeholders with research and targeted policy advise in this regard. Specific to Europe, the discussion focused on improving mechanisms to widen access and participation, in particular through more flexibility in access, provision and accreditation. Participants identified the promotion of flexible learning pathways and the expansion of micro-credentials as critical.
A set of forthcoming research reports by UIL, featuring the full set of survey results as well as case studies, will provide further insight into the various mechanisms for expanding access to non-traditional learners and providing learner-centered higher education. In addition, the role of universities as local actors was emphasized, another area UIL supports through the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities.