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Adult learning: the UCU vision

3 March 2009

With an ageing population and facing a severe economic recession adult learning has never been more vital. Yet government policies seem only to recognise economic rationale for adult learning, and its policies seem to limit adult learning rather than expanding it.

UCU adult learning conference, 30 Apr 09: delegates 2 UCU has drafted a vision statement for adult learning. The aim has been to present an alternative to the Government's policies around adult learning. Around adult learning for qualifications what has and is being proposed is an increasingly narrow agenda built around building skills and employers' needs. These policies reached their zenith with the publication of the Leitch Report in 2005 and the government's proposals to implement this in 2006. However the credit crunch and the worsening economic situation with increasing unemployment, have knocked away the foundations on which Leitch was built. Even the Commons DIUS Select Committee on Leitch said that the need was now for reskilling as well as upskilling.
UCU adult learning conference, 30 Apr 09: delegates In higher education the withdrawal of funding for people undertaking equivalent and lower degrees has been cut for certain subjects. This has resulted in some universities cutting their adult learning programmes and Continuing Education Departments altogether, others have restricted their offer.

In non and informal adult learning the government issued a consultation document in May 2007, and this year it published a White Paper, 'the Learning Revolution' which tried to mask the one and half million lost adult learners over the last 2 years by focusing on self-organised adult learning. Throwing off its previous commitments to professionalism and quality assurance in this part of adult learning, it only managed to mention tutored groups in one paragraph and proposed setting up a portal where would be adult students could be put into contact with would-be adult tutors. An alternative to these policies had to be presented.
UCU adult learning conference, 30 Apr 09: delegates 3 To coincide with the writing of this UCU vision of adult learning, UCU held a conference at Birkbeck College at the end of April. Over 70 people came and heard a variety of presentations around adult learning and participated in a lively workshop session on the UCU Vision. The various power point presentations and speeches that we were given are linked to this item as is the draft UCU Vision for adult learning. This statement is a work in progress. Please read it and tell us what you think. Contact Jon Hegerty and tell him your views on the draft.

Last updated: 29 January 2020