Higher Education Policies and Adult Education: The cases of Belgium and Ireland

Issue 2

“Higher Education Policies and Adult Education: The cases of Belgium and Ireland”

Nikos Papadakis, Mark Murphy & Theodora Rosaki
Page 24-61


Higher Education Policies and Adult Education: The cases of Belgium and Ireland.The present paper deals with the new trends in University Adult Education policies (hereby the term “University Adult Education” codifies and subsequently includes each form of Adult Education in a tertiary- higher level, following the rule of the term “University Continuing Education). In fact, the paper takes into consideration
1 the relation of the University-Adult-Education policies to the active employment policies and macro-economic policies, and
2 the whole political, ideological and economic context within trends in Adult Education are formatted and changes take shape.
The focus is on two “national cases”, namely the case of Belgium (including both Flanders and Wallonia) and the case of Ireland. What is actually attempted here is a comparative approach of the two cases, in terms of their policies on University Adult Education (tertium comparationis), before and after the Bologna Follow Up Process towards the establishment of the European Higher Education Area.The paper initially analyses the nature and the components of the post-industrial Educational Policy, focusing on the new trends in Adult Education and Higher Education Policy,
1 in the context of the internationalization of the economy and the state, (of) the relevant movement of economic power from the national to the international arena and (of) the supranational rationality of the European integration, and
2 in relation to the trends concerning training and employment.
The focus is on the role of the changing political economy of the E.U. and the European Strategy for Employment to the transformation of the Adult Education structures and methods, in the context of the revisited “human-recourse-development” model. Inevitably the ascertained growing involvement of Higher Education Institutes to Adult Education and LLL projects is taken into consideration.On the basis of the abovementioned theoretical discussion, we proceed to the phenomenological presentation of
1 the context for adult education in universities and institutions of higher education and
2 the main developments and changes concerning the policies in University Adult Education, in Belgium and Ireland.
Special emphasis is laid on issues such as the forms of organization of University Adult Education, its relation to the broader cultural context and to the existing political system (especially in the case of Belgium), issues of supply and demand, the legal status of University Adult Education, providers and competitors, practices and methods, the role of ICTs (especially in the delivery of ODL), modes of certification, issues of funding and governmentality, and more particular issues (i.e. the “recognition of vocational qualifications” and non-formal apprenticeship in the context of University Adult Education programmes, the operation of the Open University in each case, the role of the traditional Universities, the issue of the professionalisation of adult educators).
At the end, the focus moves on the way the supranational logic of the European integration and the relevant movement towards the strengthening of economies of scale within the EU affect the new tendencies in the “national” University-Adult-Education policies. Via the final comparative synopsis of convergences and divergences between the two “national” cases and the subsequent interpretative analysis of the common trends, initiatives, discourses, practices and evenmore common antinomies and counterpoints to the abovementioned trends, the paper attempts:
1 to synopsize the major forms of the state retreat concerning the policy and institutional dimensions of University Adult Education,
2 to explore why adult education (and furthermore its tertiary version) is a social policy domain where the European Union gains more and more control (in the terms of the decision making process),
3 to trace some of the political and economical reasons behind adult education policies an their growing connection to the logics of flexibility, adaptability and market- orientation.