The students widening participation forgot? Continuing Education and community engagement

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The Centre for Lifelong Learning’s programme of Continuing Education short courses, lectures and workshops are effective in attracting students from a range of backgrounds and including them within the University. Many of these individuals have a record of educational achievement; others have not. Increasingly, a section of younger and older students alike are using Continuing Education as a confidence-building entry point for higher education – and in some cases as a substitute for traditional undergraduate study or for an education missed out on earlier in life.

From the perspective of History provision, this paper will discuss the potential of Continuing Education as a widening participation tool able to reach individuals at various stages of life, long after they have left school behind (a group often omitted from widening participation debates). It will discuss the culture of learning with Continuing Education, inclusive recruitment techniques, partnerships with external organisations, the value of offering University awards through credit, and Continuing Education as a platform for entry to Access and undergraduate programmes within the University.

Continuing Education has long provided courses for people who are simultaneously ‘customers’ and ‘students’ : perhaps the gap between this and traditional models of higher education are now becoming narrower?

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