Who and what are universities for? Local communities, global competitiveness and the part-time student
20 to 22 March 2013 at Durham University
The 2013 Annual Conference was held at the Calman Centre, Durham University and we were pleased to see that the event attracted 75 delegates, a very satisfactory number given the difficult times for university staff to find time and budgets. Especially pleasing was the number of papers and presentations we received – giving us the pleasant problem of fitting them into the timetable. Keynote speeches were presented by Professor Geoff Layer and Professor John Holmwood.
For the first time this year, there was an international panel session in which contributors were asked to give a perspective on lifelong learning in their respective countries. Speakers were: Dr Harvey King, Canada, Dean Tom Gibbons, USA and Professor Neal Yeh, China. This session offered a very illuminating global view of lifelong learning.
As is now customary a Reception and Buffet was held on the evening prior to the Conference, which was generously sponsored by The University of Durham. Before the Conference Dinner there was the customary book launch, this year a very appropriate publication from the University of British Columbia (UBC): Transformations: A History of UBC Continuing Studies, by Scott McLean and Eric Damer.
The Dinner was held in the spectacular Medieval Great hall of Durham Castle. This was a truly excellent occasion, with excellent cuisine and a wonderfully collegial atmosphere, helped by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Christopher Higgins, who joined in enthusiastically and led an impromptu tour of the castle after the dinner. Our warm thanks to him. At the Dinner the UALL Awards, now in their fifth year, were presented in an excellent ceremony. There was a great variety of entries; each was assessed on the criteria of “innovation and creativity, sustainability, impact and transferability”. The winner and three runners-up received their Awards to great acclaim. The winner was Co-Create a highly creative programme from Aberystwyth University Lifelong Learning, involving students in both the creative making of clothing from recycled fabrics, and an introduction to small business start-ups. The three runners-up were: University of Bristol - BA English Literature and Community Engagement; University of Westminster – Creating a Flexible Teacher Education Programme through Collaboration and Middlesex University – Peer Mentoring: Enhancing Lifelong Learning in Universities in Pakistan.
In conclusion the Conference proved a great success, and feedback from delegates indicate a high degree of approval. Much is owed to the excellent presentations, to the quality of discussion, and the informal networking which is such an important ingredient in any conference.
The presentations from the speakers:
Professor John Holmwood: The changing uses of the university; neo-liberalism and the values of public higher education
Professor Neal Yeh: The great ideal guides - the continuing development of China's social construction
Workshop seminar presentations included:
- Overcoming misconceptions: testing the conceptual understanding of mechanics with mature learners - Sam Nolan and Jinhua Mathias (Durham)
- Reclycling writing: learning from a corpus of student-generated texts - Megan Bruce and Simon Rees (Durham)
- Creating a flexible teacher education programme through collaboration - Rebecca Eliahoo (Westminster)
- Embedding assessment into course design: a view from Cardiff University's Centre for Lifelong Learning - Nick Jones (Cardiff)
- The factors that affect success of mature, non-traditional students accessing university through a Foundation Programme - Mary Dodd (Durham)
- Flipping the academy? Turning the changing world of the university inside out - Helen Corkill (Bedfordshire) and Ruth Helyer (Teesside)
- Past, present and future - incorporating prior and work-based learning in the development of a part-time study programme - Lea McKay (West of Scotland)
- Engage! Making university research available to local communities: an innovative approach - Ian Ground (Sunderland)
- Universities and communities: developing relationships locally, nationally and globally - Margaret Alipoor (Bradford)
- Workplace learning communities for part-time distance learners - Ronald Macintyre and Khadija Patel (Open University Scotland)
- From the roots up - exploring the use of Open Educational Resources to widen participation in deprived communities - Gayle Hudson and John Rose-Adams (Open University)
- Youth Summer School pilot - youth summer schools, raising aspirations as key to countering child poverty - Kelly McCarthy (Newport)