This press release from the Office for Fair Access:

The Office for Fair Access (OFFA) welcomes this year’s Adult Learners’ Week [14-20 June 2014]. Organised by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, Adult Learners’ Week includes a range of events that celebrate the contribution of adult learning to social cohesion, economic vitality and social mobility.

Professor Les Ebdon, Director of Fair Access to Higher Education,  said:

“Higher education is not just for 18-year-olds so I am glad to see this campaign highlighting the benefits of all types of adult learning, both to individual students and to our wider economy and society.

“Going to university can be a life-changing experience at any stage of life, and businesses also benefit from upskilled employees and a broad range of excellent graduates to recruit from.

“Universities and colleges work to help mature students overcome the barriers they may face to accessing higher education, such as a lack of formal qualifications, or responsibilities such as a job or a family. For example, they offer financial and other support, and run outreach programmes that help people choose a course and brush up on their study skills. [note 1]

“I would like to see even more outreach to mature students in disadvantaged communities. I am also asking universities and colleges to offer more courses that are flexible enough to fit in with students’ other responsibilities, and to collaborate with businesses to design courses that meet their employees’ needs.”

For more information about Adult Learners’ Week see http://www.alw.org.uk/

ENDS

For further information, contact Sophie Mason (OFFA Communications and Press Adviser) on 0117 931 7204 / 07795 257384, or email sophie.mason@offa.org.uk

Notes to editors

1.       Examples of the work that universities and colleges do to improve access for mature learners include:

a.       The University of Bristol has introduced a one-year, part-time foundation course in arts and humanities, designed to be a pathway to undergraduate study for local people who have been out of formal education for a while. For more information see http://www.bristol.ac.uk/arts/courses/foundation/.

b.      Buckinghamshire New University has forged partnerships with local further education colleges and businesses to improve pathways into university for adult learners. There is also a range of support for mature learners at the university including a designated Learning Development Tutor. For more information see the university’s access agreement http://www.offa.org.uk/agreements/Buckinghamshire%20New%20University%202014-15.pdf

c.       Birkbeck, University of London runs free, interactive sessions for adults to explore the possibilities that study can offer, and to get advice and guidance on how to achieve their goals, particularly if they have been out of education for some time. For more information see http://www.bbk.ac.uk/prospective/prospective-events

2.       The Office for Fair Access (OFFA) is an independent, non-departmental public body established under the Higher Education Act 2004 to help promote and safeguard fair access to higher education for people from under-represented groups. All English universities and colleges must make plans to promote and sustain fair access, in order to charge higher fees. These plans will include outreach (e.g. summer schools, mentoring, after-school tuition, links with schools and colleges in disadvantaged areas), activities to improve retention and success, and financial support such as bursaries and scholarships. OFFA must approve these plans and then monitors their implementation. For more information see www.offa.org.uk ­­­­­­­­­­

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