First published in CommUnicate issue 328
For over 25 years the University's Centre for Lifelong Learning (CLL) and its predecessor, the Department of Continuing Education, have been at the forefront of efforts to widen participation to higher education for local adult learners. Over that period the Open Studies programme has provided a first taste of higher level study to tens of thousands of students, many of whom have gone on to further work either at Warwick or elsewhere.
For those already committed to a more substantial course of study and who are unable for work or family reasons to study on a full time basis, the Part-time Degree programme has offered a range of opportunities. For those with limited prior educational attainments but with the commitment to succeed, the 2+2 degrees run in partnership with local colleges have provided an important route into the University for students who would never have thought of studying at a university at all – let alone at an institution like Warwick.
More recently the Centre has collaborated with others, including Warwick's Institute of Education and local further education colleges, to develop a number of Foundation Degrees which enable those working in early years, in the community and voluntary sector and in the learning and skills sector to gain a qualification.
The work of CLL contributes to the widening participation agenda in less direct ways too. For example, its extensive teacher training programme 'trains the trainers’ in colleges, community organisations and work-based settings, and its Diplomas for those involved in the delivery of adult literacy, numeracy and ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) courses have attracted national recognition.
The 25th anniversary this year  of the Open Studies programme and the 20th for the 2+2 programme are certainly occasions for celebration but not for resting on laurels – there are too many challenges for that!
Challenges including the loss of adult learning places in further education and the Government's decision to withdraw funding for those studying for an equivalent or lower qualification in higher education (the 'ELQ' policy). All the more reason to keep on innovating...