Adult Education for the next century

10 January 2019

A new commission is set to review lifelong learning for the 21st century – 100 years after the UK’s first report on adult education was published.

In 1919, the Ministry of Reconstruction’s Adult Education Committee published its Report on Adult Education, arguing that a population educated throughout life was vital for the future of the country.  The report set the groundwork for British adult education during the 20th century.

In the report’s centenary year, the Co-operative College, the Raymond Williams Foundation, the Workers Educational Association, and the Universities of Nottingham and Oxford have assembled a commission to examine the needs and possibilities for adult education into the next century.

The Centenary Commission, which includes Kellogg Fellows Lord Bilimoria,and Melissa Highton and Kellogg alumna Ruby Wax as a patron, holds its first meeting today at Balliol College. The Commission will publish its report in November 2019, marking the centenary of the Ministry of Reconstruction’s Final Report on Adult Education.

President of Kellogg College and Research Director and joint Secretary of the Centenary Commission, Professor Jonathan Michie comments:

“There’s a growing recognition nationally, and indeed internationally, that access to university-level education needs to be life-long. The idea that university was just for 18-21 year olds or even 18-25 year olds, is gone. This has been demonstrated in Oxford, where, in 1990, it was agreed that students could study part-time at postgraduate level, creating Kellogg College, to support such students. The success of the resulting programmes is what has driven Kellogg to become, in terms of students, the largest and most international Oxford College.

 Alongside this, there is a growing commitment across the University to public engagement and outreach in various forms. But Government does need to catch up, and provide more support for part-time study and lifelong learning.”

The Commission’s role is to provide authoritative, evidence-based recommendations on how adult education should develop.

Britain in 2019 faces major social and economic challenges; in light of these challenges, the Centenary Commission will address the need for, and role of, adult education in relation to:

  • Globalisation and the future of work
  • Civic engagement and democracy
  • Inequality and social mobility
  • Communities, migration and identities
  • Demography and ageing

The Commission is part of a broader Adult Education 100 Campaign, which is leading a range of activities to mark the centenary of the 1919 Report.