adult education

adult education
   Local authorities autonomously organize adult education services. However, the Education Reform Act of 1988 makes it a duty of Local Education Authorities (LEAs) to provide adequate further education provision for mature students. The main bodies working in the field are the National Association of Educational Guidance Services (which provides information and training for those who wish to start or further a career, or simply wish to learn); the National Institute for Adult and Continuing Education (NIACE, which runs short courses and publishes many books including the Year Book of Adult and Continuing Education); the Unit for the Development of Adult and Continuing Education in England and Wales (financed by the Department for Education and Enterprise to carry out research); the Scottish Institute of Adult and Continuing Education (which provides means of contact amongst adult and continuing educators); and the Workers Educational Association (WEA, a national organization with 900 branches which offer courses of different lengths on a wide range of subjects to interested adults and especially workers’ movements). In addition to this there are the British branch of the University of the Third Age (founded in France in 1973, it reached the UK in 1983 and now has 100 British branches, primarily supporting voluntary self-help education for those over sixty) and the Open University (OU, founded in 1969 to offer distance-learning degrees, vocational training, short courses and summer schools). The OU has been a remarkable success. Originally named the ‘University of the Air’, it was established at Milton Keynes by a Labour government expressly to provide educational opportunities for part-time, mature students. Regular meetings with tutors are supplemented by radio broadcasts and television programmes, but the core of the learning process is the comprehensive package of course handbooks, the idea behind which has since been copied by many traditional universities. Overall, with the current emphasis on retraining, serial jobs and transferable skills, adult education is still an expanding market. Some university departments recruit mature students in excess of 50 percent of their total student population, and numbers are likely to increase.

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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