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The Lifelong Learning Centre: new beginnings

Dr Stella Cottrell, Director for Lifelong Learning/Head of Centre

Dr Stella Cottrell

The Lifelong Learning Centre (LLC) was created to promote programmes, pathways and support structures for adult and part-time students, especially those from groups under-represented in higher education. It will fulfil an important role in addressing those parts of the strategy map that relate to ‘enriching society on a local to global scale’, and ‘increasing participation for those who can benefit’. The new Centre operates from the Leeds and Wakefield campuses, and also offers outreach provision within local communities.

The philosophy of the new Centre is one of creating possibilities for local people to change their life prospects by accessing what the University has to offer. LLC staff are committed to making opportunities available to local people and to working with staff across the University who share the same ideals and objectives, in line with University strategy.

Promoting and supporting adult participation

Academic potential, especially in relation to adults, is a complex concept. The abilities of older learners are not always immediately recognisable, and adults’ development towards high standards is not as predictable as it is for younger potential entrants. Through preparatory programmes and outreach projects, the Lifelong Learning Centre works with adults to raise aspirations, build confidence, and increase academic capability so that students have the choice of progressing to a University of Leeds degree programme with confidence of success.

The LLC at the Wakefield Campus

A brand new, state-of-the-art centre opened last summer at the University of Leeds campus in Wakefield. This provides much needed access to higher education for people in Wakefield and its district. Currently, Wakefield has very low levels of participation in further and higher education, and employers seeking qualified people tend to recruit mainly from outside the area. Programmes run by the LLC from the Wakefield site are supporting the development of vocational routes into the University, such as in teaching and learning, and in health and care-related professions.

Preparation for Higher Education

The Wakefield based Preparation for Higher Education (PHE) programme places strong emphasis on raising academic standards and offers local people the option of progressing to a world class university. As numbers grow, discrete pathways are starting to develop – thus enabling the programme to become more relevant to specific degree programmes.

Open Studies Framework

A major initiative for the new LLC is the development of a framework for Open Studies. Already, most faculties have offered electives for the framework. Students will be able to use these modules as ‘tasters’ to see whether higher education is for them and which subjects best suit their needs and interests. The framework will include modules at level 0 and level 1 that develop academic skills such as critical thinking, academic writing and basic research skills. The intention is to band modules, enabling students to build towards 60 credit certificates in named subjects if they wish. The LLC will work with faculties to develop bridging programmes from the open studies framework onto degree programmes.

Faculty involvement in increasing participation for adult and part-time students

Programmes such as PHE and Open Studies provide opportunities for increasing participation for adults to study at Leeds. Faculties and schools looking to strengthen their intakes from under-represented groups could benefit from liaising with the LLC’s programme managers (see list below) to develop pathways into their degree programmes for adult learners.

A warm welcome is extended to academic staff from schools and faculties who would like to contribute to developing these progression routes, whether through devising bespoke modules, acting as a guest speaker or other means.

Other work by the Lifelong Learning Centre

The LLC will fulfil a number of other roles such as:

• Running part-time undergraduate degrees and foundation degrees, in liaison with faculties
• Providing some or all of the parenting of part-time undergraduate degree programmes across the University
• Running modules that help undergraduates complete
part-time programmes run primarily through faculties
• Marketing part-time undergraduate programmes
• Running community-based projects and programmes
such as Beyond GCSE and Islamic Studies, to build awareness and confidence, and to ease students into higher education. (Fiona Chapel, Communities and Partnerships Team, is due to write about these projects for Issue 12 of the Bulletin in June.)
• Providing pre-entry and other academic guidance to adults
• Providing, in conjunction with other services and departments, information, advice and support in areas
such as part-time student finance, orientation to HE, using ICT, and accessing the library
• Developing a psychological ‘home’ for adult and part-time students

Contacts

Director for Lifelong Learning/Head of Centre:
Dr Stella Cottrell 0113 343 7893

Co-ordinator for Communities and Partnerships, including outreach projects: Lindsey Fraser 0113 343 3219

Preparation for Higher Education (PHE):
Maggie Rutter 0113 343 9415 or 0113 343 8760

Open Studies: Pat Owens 0113 343 4105 or 0113 343 3212

Faculty Liaison Officer:
Larissa Bdzola 0113 343 1577 or 0113 343 3212
For more details see the LLC website at www.leeds.ac.uk/lifelonglearningcentre/

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Page owner: David Gardner | Updated: 2/11/06