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Universities and governments shall increase their efforts for Lifelong Learning

At its autumn conference in Rotterdam, the European University Association (EUA) launched a Universities Charter on Lifelong Learning. The document, primarily addressed to universities and governments, was worked out after extensive consultations with members, rector’s conferences and other higher education stakeholders, including students and business organisations.

In general, the charter militates for wider inclusion of our societies in learning activities throughout life as the demographic development will increase the duration of working life. It also calls for increasing the level of competencies of European citizens as the skills needed in a globalised and mobile society are subject to continuous change.

In terms of practical recommendations, the charter advises universities, on the one hand, to formulate clear commitments to Lifelong Learning, to find strategies to attract more diversified students through the recognition of their prior learning activities and potential, and to adapt study programmes as to support creative and flexible learning. On the other hand, the paper addresses governments and other (regional) partners, asking them to recognise the need for providing both the legal and the financial support, and to promote the return of potential learners to higher education.

The purpose of the document is to guide European universities in developing their specific role as institutions of Lifelong Learning. It thus also needs to be seen in the light of the overarching Lisbon Strategy.