Journeys and Destinations: Widening Access to HE for Adult Learners



30 Oct 2019


9:30 - 15:30


Emma Cons Hall, Morley College London, 61 Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7HT


£50 Early Bird/£75 Standard via Eventbrite

Journeys and Destinations: Widening Access to Higher Education for Adult Learners

Morley College London will once again be hosting our annual conference on the important theme of widening participation for adult learners, this year with a specific focus on Higher Education.

Tickets available here.

Aimed for academics and practioners leading and managing Higher Education, the conference offers an opportunity to discuss the challenges and prospects for widening participation amongst adult learners in higher education. This timely conference will address this area of growing importance ‘towards the objective of ensuring that every student, whatever their background, has a fulfilling experience of higher education that enriches their lives and careers.’

Focusing on strategic challenges relating to marketing and communications as well as academic issues around curriculum design and pedagogy, the aims of the conference are to provide focus on how a variety of governmental strategies are enabling widening participation, particularly for adult learners and learners from disadvantaged backgrounds, and how providers can successfully respond to these.

Whilst overall participation in higher education has increased, participation for 21-30 year olds actually declined between 2007 and 2017. Furthermore, HE registrations for adult learners from low participation neighbourhoods declined between 2016 and 2017 across the UK after a few years of progress. These latest trends demonstrate that whilst universities and colleges have invested in strategies to widen participation, engaging adult learners into HE remains a challenge in an increasingly competitive environment.

Adult learners face significant barriers to entering, progressing and achieving in HE and “are more likely than their younger counterparts to have characteristics associated with underrepresentation in higher education,” including non-traditional qualifications, caring responsibilities, disabilities and being from black and minority ethnic groups. These characteristics require a closer involvement in the applications and recruitment processes, curriculum design, teaching and learning strategies as well as college support services including student services and finance.

Despite these challenges, the government has made clear commitments through the Higher Education and Research Act 2017 to enable upskilling and access to higher education for adults. The OfS access and participation consultation and the Skills for Londoners Strategy 2018 likewise commits to improving technical and vocational education to meet the needs of the London economy. Finally, the review of post-18 education and funding will significantly transform the tertiary education sector as a whole.

Morley College London opened its doors to adult learners since the 1880s, with a dedication to lifelong learning, and we now have a vibrant and growing provision of higher education. We are delighted to host this conference which will provide a fantastic opportunity to engage with a variety of expert contributors including the Office for Students, the Department for Education, Linking London, Pearson and others.

Tickets available here.

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