Overview courses Lifelong Learning

Lifelong Learning

From business administrator to engineer and from communication professional to agronomist. Whether you want to improve the world or your chances on the labour market, you can continue to develop your skills at the university throughout life. Our working lives and the labour market have changed dramatically. People are increasingly aware of the importance of continuing to develop their skills. The universities have launched the new online platform to make the current range of courses more visible to those who wish to continue learning at the university. However, many more things are happening in the area of Lifelong Learning.
As universities, we are continuously developing a varied, sustainable and flexible range of modules that is closely linked both to the front line of our research and to the training requirements of adults, including professionals and the organisations in which they work. This online platform provides an up-to-date overview of the range available for professionals from the 14 public universities in the Netherlands. Some of the courses are specifically aimed at people with a relevant university degree, while others do not require prior education. From short courses to long-term programmes, the range is very varied and has been specifically developed for professionals based on the latest scientific insights from our universities. The range is constantly changing as a result, so feel free to come back later to see if there are any new relevant courses for you. 

There is already intensive cooperation in the area of lifelong learning. For example, in 2020 the umbrella organisations the Netherlands Association of Senior Secondary Vocational Schools (MBO-Raad), the Dutch Council for Training and Education (NRTO) and the Association of Universities of Applied Sciences (Vereniging Hogescholen), together with the VSNU, published a vision in which they jointly advocated a week of personal learning rights per year for every Dutch citizen. Every working Dutch citizen from the age of 27 would receive the basic entitlement to one week of training a year. The ‘Lifelong Learning for everyone’ plan is a unique collaboration between the senior secondary vocational, higher professional and university education sectors. Together, the educational associations are advocating a plan with a new and additional system of public education funding in the form of personal learning rights. The complete plan can be found here. With, we are making our academic education accessible to those who wish to keep on developing throughout life. In addition, with the universities of applied sciences, senior secondary vocational institutions and NRTO, we are working with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science on a broad-based training portal to meet this growing need in our society.

Growing demand
Universities are seeing an increasing demand for education and training for more highly educated professionals. For example, a survey conducted by the UvA in the spring of 2021 showed that 80% of their alumni plan to retrain or continue their studies in the years ahead. Although personal interest is the main motivation for the largest group of alumni, the ability to perform better in their current job or to prepare for a new career step were also mentioned frequently. Our alumni and other professionals wish to broaden, deepen and update their knowledge and skills, as well as wanting reflection and inspiration. The growing demand for Lifelong Learning is a logical consequence of the rapid changes that are taking place in the various professions and careers that are becoming more flexible. This demand also arises from the need for new knowledge and skills for resolving major social issues such as digitisation and artificial intelligence. Education no longer stops with a starting qualification.

Added value
Lifelong Learning (LLO) is important at an individual level, but also for society as a whole: for the sustainable employability and motivation of an ageing workforce, for a competitive economy as well as for active social participation and democratic citizenship. All of these factors combined make it a regular task of the universities.

Universities offer LLO because:

  • LLO strengthens contacts with society and the professional field and makes a greater social impact possible.
  • Through LLO, the applicability of research can be tested directly in practice.
  • LLO can be used to attract up-and-coming talent.
  • LLO can serve as a testing ground for educational innovation in terms of form and content, which can contribute to improving regular education.
  • LLO can lead to new research questions and therefore to new research and new research commissions.
  • LLO offers scope for collaboration with companies and organisations.
  • LLO allows individual institutions to strengthen the bond with their alumni.
  • LLO contributes to social participation and cohesion by focusing on personal development and the use of competences for the benefit of society.

Broad range
All 14 public universities offer lifelong learning programmes. Through dedicated organisations such as the Radboud Academy, UvA Academy, TU Delft Extension School and TIAS, or integrated in the university as in the case of the WUR and the UU, as well as the Open Universiteit that already offers its programmes in a modular fashion which also makes them suitable for professionals. The universities are collaborating in an LLO Learning Community to further develop LLO together.

The future of Lifelong Learning
In October 2021, the universities – together with partners from senior secondary vocational education, higher professional education and the business community – submitted an application to the National Growth Fund for strengthening LLO (see also this link). By means of this application, we wish to give a much-needed boost to the development of LLO together with the business community for major social and economic issues. If our application is successful, we will launch a range of offerings for the energy and raw materials transition in 2022.

In the meantime, the universities are working together on a new system for the accreditation of LLO routes through a pilot for microcredentials as part of the Acceleration Plan. This pilot is one of the first experiments in Europe to provide short-term routes with recognisable value in the system. The pilot started in 2021 and will run until 2023 (see also this link).