A recent report has outlined several ways for universities to adapt to the rising amount of older learners seeking higher education.
Published by Universities UK, the document addresses the growing demand for courses which are tailored to the needs of students who have completed their careers.
The text says that, due to the projected rise in older learners – based upon the increased life expectancy of the UK population and the multiplying numbers of HE applications by this market – universities need to ‘find fresh ways of adapting to and supporting an ageing population’.
Within the document, the authors call on universities to assist in promoting demographic change; Professor Chris Phillipson and Jim Ogg (both Keele University staff) say that a changed perception of older generations, and their role within society, can be promoted by higher education institutions through the introduction of fundamental alterations.
The text advises universities to increase their involvement with support services aimed at older people, and to actively encourage psychological health in over 50s, as well as to assist people in formulating their post-retirement plans. The UUK document says that these steps will mean that HE establishments play a ‘leading role’ in transforming the place of older people within modern communities.
Whilst existing ‘lifelong learning’ schemes are promoted in British universities, such opportunities are often directed at existing students or the general public – they rarely focus on addressing the learning of people aged 50 and over, the stage at which active learning sees a ‘sharp decline’.
The popularity of the ‘Advanced Leadership Initiative’ recently introduced at Harvard University illustrates the need for a similar programme to be established within UK institutions. The increasing number of mature applicants to Universities of the Third Age (U3A) and the Open University (OU), which currently claim to have almost 220,000 older students enrolled in total, also demonstrates the mounting support for us to...