Lancaster University

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New focus on lifelong learning and widening participation

12/09/2005 14:26:19

From left: Professor Keith Percy, Professor Geoff Layer OBE,
Professor Paul Wellings and Jane O'Brien.

The School of Lifelong Learning and Widening Participation was officially launched at an event this week, attended by Professor Geoff Layer, OBE, Director of Action on Access, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching) at the University of Bradford and Dean of the School of Lifelong Education and Development.

Professor Layer spoke on the challenges ahead for widening participation in higher education institutions. Presentations were also given by Professor Keith Percy, Director of the new School and Jane O’Brien Director of CETAD.

Lancaster University is placing increasing importance on recruiting students from a wide range of backgrounds and on offering more flexible ways to study university-level courses.

Lancaster’s School of Lifelong Learning and Widening Participation will provide a range of opportunities that complement traditional degree courses. These opportunities are open to all sectors of the community such as adults returning to learning, people wanting to further their career through higher level qualifications, and able young people from disadvantaged areas who might consider entering higher education.

The core units of the School are the Department of Continuing Education (DCE) and the Centre for Training and Development (CETAD).

Professor Keith Percy, Director of the School of Lifelong Learning and Widening Participation, explains: “This is an important development as it underlines how seriously Lancaster University takes its commitments to offer relevant, high quality learning opportunities in part-time and flexible formats .The School will be a main driver in the delivery of the University’s Fair Access Policy. The units of the new School already offer new Foundation Degree qualifications, a wide range of professional development opportunities at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and a very large programme of University awards and credits around the region. Able young people from all backgrounds are offered the chance to have an initial experience of university life through school visits, master-classes and summer schools on campus to encourage them to aim higher and to consider progressing to higher education.”

Lancaster University Vice Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings said: "Lancaster University plans to maintain clarity and leadership on widening participation. The new School of Lifelong Learning and Widening Participation should be seen as a portal for ideas and activities which will enable the University to reach out into the community and offer more flexible learning opportunities. The University has high expectations of where this venture will lead."

The School is expected to have a range of Associate Members from different parts of the University. Two have already been identified. They are the Community Access Unit, a research and development unit seeking to inform policy and enhance learning opportunities for groups of learners experiencing exclusion; and the Office of the Associated Institutions (OAI), which has an important regional role in validating and assuring the quality of the higher education courses offered by the University’s accredited and associated colleges - among them, Blackpool and The Fylde, Blackburn, Edge Hill and St. Martin’s Colleges.