Exploring Difference – Integrating Lifelong Learning into Universities’ Missions

Embassy of Canada, Berlin, 19. October 2009 13:00 bis 20:00

Demographic change, increasing global interdependence and accelerated technological advancement mean that today’s workforce increasingly need to be qualified to a higher level. It is commonly believed that the knowledge acquired during a first degree needs continuous updating through further practical knowledge and skills.

In Germany, however, the role of lifelong learning – when measured against the expectations and demands of politics, business and the public – is (still) relatively small. This applies both to continuing education offered at universities as well as general educational opportunities for new target groups.

The forthcoming conference in the series “International Dialogue on Higher Education Berlin” therefore aims to shed some light on the topic of lifelong learning at higher education institutions. Drawing on examples from their own education systems and at their own institutions, experts from Australia, Canada, the USA and the UK will discuss successful experiences and models of lifelong learning in a plenary session and parallel workshops. The discussions will address three central questions:

  • What basic institutional requirements enable and promote the integration of lifelong learning at universities?
    • Does a commitment to lifelong learning feature in the university’s mission? How will it be implemented?
    • What is the relationship between continuing education offered at universities and the ‘normal’ courses of study?
    • What roles do research and the research profile of a university play in the field of continuing education?
  • How can a balance between the universities’ focus on supply and a demand led market be found?
    • How can universities meet the hugely varied but yet very specific demands of the continuing education sector?
    • How is a demand-oriented continuing education sector compatible with the German universities’ tenets of freedom and autonomy?
    • What current governance models are used in the field of lifelong learning?
    • What would be attractive and sustainable incentives for German university teachers to engage in the field of continuing education?
  • What are the societal and educational prerequisites that allow lifelong learning to thrive in the higher education landscape?
    • What is the relationship between social expectations, the interests of the private sector and the responsibilities of those participating in continuing education?
    • What are sustainable models for funding lifelong learning (both at the institutional and education system level)?
    • What role does lifelong learning play with a view to widening participation and fair access?