European universities to develop a common model for lifelong learning

The Open University of the University of Helsinki is taking part in the Opening Universities for Lifelong Learning (OPULL) project. The three-year project (2010–2012) aims to create a European operating model for promoting lifelong learning as well as adult student participation and admission to higher education.

Sabine Remdish

The Open University of the University of Helsinki is one of four partners in the Opening Universities for Lifelong Learning (OPULL) project, along with Leuphana University of Lüneburg in Germany, The Open University in England and the University of Southern Denmark.

“In the near future, we will have a constant shortage of qualified experts and university graduates,” says Sabine Remdisch, Director of the OPULL research network, a professor at Leuphana University of Lüneburg.

According to Remdisch, open university studies in Finland are organised in a manner that could serve as a foundation for further development in Germany: people in all parts of the country can attend the Open University regardless of their social status, age or educational background. Moreover, open universities are integral parts of universities in Finland, which is also one of the country’s strengths.

“For us, the most interesting aspects of the project are international comparisons and the opportunities to learn from the partners’ best practices,” says Professor Tapio Kosunen, Director of the Open University of the University of Helsinki.

Representatives of the participating countries emphasise that learning should not be limited to the first completed degree. “Current life expectancy challenges people to rethink their life direction and build new careers,” says Professor Carsten Yndigegn from the University of Southern Denmark, who strongly believes that people are open to change.

According to Dominic Newbould, Director of External Relations at The Open University in England, university studies are no longer simply a distinct stage between school and working life. Instead, people need to develop their professional competencies continuously.

The steering and project groups of the OPULL project met in Helsinki on 17 and 18 March 2011. At the event, Newbould gave a lecture about The Open University. Established in 1969, The Open University, with its 260,000 students, is the largest university in Europe. In addition to educational opportunities, it offers many students a second chance in life. “For example, many of our students are present or former football professionals – and those who never became the next David Beckham, after all,” Newbould said.

The OPULL project reached its second phase in 2011. This phase includes a comparative survey in Germany, Finland, England and Denmark.

The Opening Universities for Lifelong Learning (OPULL) project

The Opening Universities for Lifelong Learning (OPULL) project at Leuphana University in Lüneburg

Text: Johanna Järviranta
Photo: Linda Tammisto>
Translation: AAC Global

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