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Lessons from America?

The development of lifelong learning opportunities offers the key to greater prosperity, personal fulfilment and social stability. This was the conclusion reached by a team of education experts during a recent trip to North Carolina.

The fact-finding mission included Professor John Benyon, from the University of Leicester, and Robert Ede Cooper, Assistant Principal at Leicester's Regent College, and leading figures from other universities and colleges, and the higher education funding council.

Professor John Benyon and Martin Lancaster
COLLABORATION: Professor John Benyon (left) with Martin Lancaster, President of North Carolina Community College System, who hosted the visit.

The group visited a large number of educational institutions across the state and they were impressed by the high levels of collaboration between the colleges and universities, the amount of state funding for lifelong learning courses, and the involvement of local businesses.

"We have to change attitudes and approaches", said Professor Benyon. "However the bottom line is that North Carolina invests a lot more money in part-time courses and other lifelong opportunities than we do. If we want to realise our potential in Britain, we have to invest in it".

North Carolina was chosen for the mission as it was seen as being at the forefront of innovations in higher education and training. John Benyon said, "We learned a great deal about how to widen participation, improve training and enable discoveries and expertise in universities and their commitment to lifelong learning". group on campus in North Carolina
COMMITMENT TO LIFELONG LEARNING: Left to right: Robert Cooper (Regent College), Gerry McKenna (Vice-Chancellor, University of Ulster), Martin Lancaster (President, North Carolina College System), Professor John Benyon (Director, Institute of Lifelong Learning, University of Leicester).

Both Professor Benyon and Mr Cooper returned to Leicester with a commitment to further collaboration, building on the Colleges-University of Leicester Network, which was set up last year and now includes 14 separate FE Colleges working with the University.

Next year a delegation from North Carolina plans to visit the UK and will spend some time in Leicester looking at some of the recent innovations here. "This is a two-way process", said Professor Benyon, "and it is flattering that these education leaders from America want to see at first-hand what they can learn from our own initiatives in lifelong learning".

John Benyon
October 2

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Last updated: 18 October 2002 10:55
Created by: Rachel Tunstall
Created by: Barbara Whiteman

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