Landing : Athabascau University

New research on adult learners in European higher education

The research comes from a project led by ICDE which surveyed over 1,700 students. The IDEAL project seeks to gain a better understanding of the distance education offered by higher education institutions, and to examine how higher education institutions can contribute to adult learning through distance education.

The findings of this report include:

  1. The variety of age, life and work situations demonstrate the importance of distance education for adult learners.
  2. A high number of students enrolled in degree programmes have a previous higher education degree.
  3. It is important that institutions understand learners’ needs and adapt the offer to the demand.
  4. New learners, particularly non-degree holders should be targeted more effectively by institutions.
  5. Institutions must promote the recognition of prior and informal learning.
  6. Funding opportunities and eligibility criteria need to be better communicated.
  7. External motivating factors (e.g. time restrictions, need for flexibility) are still more important than internal ones (e.g. interest in a particular programme).
  8. An adequate policy framework and support from institutional management need to be secured.
  9. Adult learners have a strong need for support and guidance.
  10. More weight should be given to the learners' voice and feedback on programmes.