General
15 May 2012

Challenges of widening participation under discussion

A national policy conference to explore current and emerging challenges and approaches to widening participation in adult education, is being held by NIACE and The Open University today, as part of Adult Learners' Week (12-18 May 2012).

Those attending Widening participation in adult education: vision, reality and policy will be amongst the first to hear the findings of NIACE's 2012 annual participation survey, which tracks the current and recent participation of adults in all types of learning.

The conference will include an input from John Hayes MP, Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, as well as responses from Gordon Marsden MP and Baroness Sharp of Guildford.

Delegates will also hear from a range of speakers including:

• David Hughes, Chief Executive, NIACE (co-chair)
• Will Swann, Director, Students, The Open University (co-chair)
• Rajay Naik, Director, Government and External Affairs, The Open University
• Ruth Spellman, Chief Executive, Workers' Educational Association
• Michelle Dawson, Community Manager, Hammerson plc
• Dr. Fiona Aldridge, Head of Workplace Learning, NIACE

Will Swann, Director, Students, at The Open University, said:
"We are delighted to be supporting Adult Learners' Week to celebrate the achievements of adult learners and to highlight the importance of widening participation in education. Widening participation is at the very heart of The Open University's mission and since the University was set up 43 years ago, 1.7 million people have studied with us. Currently, 37 per cent of students are studying part-time to develop themselves professionally and personally. We are proud to have helped so many achieve their educational dreams and hope that this year's Adult Learners' Week inspires many more to take up studying."

The conference is one of a series of national events to celebrate Adult Learners' Week (12 - 18 May 2012), the UK's largest festival of learning.

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