Research and writing from staff at the Open University features heavily in the published papers from the 2011 Universities Association for Lifelong Learning Conference ‘Part-time study: The new paradigm for Higher Education?’.

Martha Caddell and Pete Cannell from the Open University in Scotland’s paper ‘Rethinking graduate attributes: understanding the learning journeys of part-time students in the Open University in Scotland’ “confirms a truth we have always known but too often without evidence beyond anecdote – that the circumstances, motivations and aims of part-time adult students are extremely complex, and change as a result of learning experiences. Martha and Pete’s “analysis of ‘graduateness’ reveals a shifting image rather than a product or outcome – in part-time study, especially while at work, graduation is not an end point but a stage in a lifelong learning progress”.

Joan Thomson and Ronald Macintyre, also from the Open University in Scotland, deal with transitions in their paper ‘From college to university: exploring the part-time student experience’. The complexity of the part-time student experience is again brought to the fore.

In ‘Opening up universities: a comparative study of barriers to lifelong learning in Germany and England’, Liz Marr and Morag Harvey from the OU’s Centre for Inclusion and Curriculum explore ‘to what extent lifelong learning opportunity, for all its rhetoric of personal and community development, is now so severely constrained by economic and political necessity that a proper balance of ‘academic’ and ‘vocational’ learning/training is prevented or at least hindered’. Marr and Harvey advocate truly flexible provision, which foregrounds recognition of prior learning for non-traditional students.

The full published papers from the conference are available online:

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