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Opening universities to lifelong learning

The European research project OPULL – Opening Universities for Lifelong Learning is investigating the possibilities for strengthening lifelong learning at institutions of higher education. This includes opening universities to professionally and vocationally qualified people who are in employment and/or have no academic qualifications as well as to those without higher education entrance certificates. It also involves recognising competencies and skills acquired through non-formal or informal learning towards higher education degrees.

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Opening universities to lifelong learning

  1. 1. First results from the international research project Opening Universities to Lifelong Learning OPULL, 2009 to 2013
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>Background </li></ul><ul><li>Main focus of research </li></ul><ul><li>Project phases & methodology </li></ul><ul><li>Research & scholarship – cultural considerations </li></ul><ul><li>Initial findings </li></ul><ul><li>Current research phase </li></ul>
  3. 3. Background <ul><li>A number of reasons why Germany has low higher education participation rates (Powell and Solga, 2010) </li></ul><ul><li>German Federal Republic funded project </li></ul><ul><li>Led by Leuphana University of Luneburg </li></ul><ul><li>Partners in Denmark, Finland and UK (OU) </li></ul><ul><li>Widening participation/non-traditional students </li></ul>
  4. 4. Main focus of research <ul><li>To identify good practice in transitions between vocational and academic study and full-time and part-time modes in order to enhance opportunities for genuine lifelong learning. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Project phases/methodology <ul><li>1 st phase – mapping educational systems of each country and interviews with educational ‘experts’ </li></ul><ul><li>2 nd phase – questionnaires with students </li></ul><ul><li>3 rd phase – interviews with students about RPL </li></ul><ul><li>4 th phase – models for a European ‘Open University’ to further open up access to HE for more diverse student cohorts. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Research – cultural dimensions <ul><li>importance of cultural context </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Communications – written text, face-to-face </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cultural norms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Different interpretations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Different expectations </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Cultural dimensions (2) <ul><li>Potential misunderstandings </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Same word’ – different meaning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>eg Open University </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>UK: national institution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>OPULL partners: different models of open universities </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Some initial findings <ul><li>Germany – currently no open university but open access through, for example, access interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Denmark – specially designed part-time programmes </li></ul><ul><li>Finland – open universities are part of every university but they do not have the right to grant degrees </li></ul><ul><li>UK – The Open University </li></ul>
  9. 9. Shared meanings <ul><li>Each phase requires discussion and negotiation </li></ul><ul><li>Time to develop shared concepts and understanding </li></ul><ul><li>Common foundations </li></ul><ul><li>Effective collaboration in research </li></ul>
  10. 10. Current research phase <ul><li>Beginning the interviews to find out views on recognising prior learning within higher education qualifications </li></ul><ul><li>Students </li></ul><ul><li>Stakeholders </li></ul><ul><li>Qualitative data </li></ul><ul><li>Agreed and emerging themes </li></ul>
  11. 11. Centre for Curriculum and Inclusion The Open University Walton Hall Milton Keynes MK7 6AA <ul><li> </li></ul>