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Our Vision


Britain is facing a number of long-term crises. Our society is fragmented and unequal, struggling to maintain the bonds of inclusion that can support those that have fallen behind. A decade of stagnant productivity has left us facing an uphill struggle to return to growth and prosperity. And all too often, we lack the opportunities to relearn and reskill, to flourish and self-develop, finding the avenues of discovery and meaning closed to us.

We need to refresh our approach to help provide the answers to these problems. We need an approach that places new forms of advanced education beyond schooling age at the heart of our national future. The Lifelong Education Institute aims to develop the radical thinking required to foster such an approach. It supports an integrated, learner-focused model of education that helps all of us cultivate the knowledge, skills, experience, and character we need, not just in our childhood but throughout our lives.

Education lies at the heart of every successful society. When we learn, when we acquire new skills and update existing ones, we become well-rounded thinkers, creative workers, and responsible citizens. We become better able to adapt and thrive in a world shaped by fast-paced technological, cultural, and economic change. We open up new routes to overcome disadvantages of class and empowerment, accessing the means to realise our highest potential.


We meet the challenges our society faces, and unlock the ideas that will solve them. We strive to craft the products and industries of the future, and find ways to deliver them. We build spaces and strategies to take control of our communities, and claim the resources we need to make a difference in our daily lives.

The Lifelong Education Institute exists to promote learning and skills training for people at all ages and stages of their lives and careers. We believe that education should be available and accessible to everyone whenever and wherever they need it. Whether they are school leavers or university graduates, new recruits or long-serving employees, recent arrivals or long-term residents, working people or those who have entered retirement.

Whatever our background or start in life, education gives us options and opportunities. It opens new doors and shows us new life paths. It brings people together from all ages and walks of life, and breaks down the stratified society we live in. Everyone should be able and enabled to seize these opportunities and pursue these paths. Lifelong education should be a key goal of any society that wishes to advance and include all of its citizens. Lifelong education should be a lifelong right.

Our approach is based on four principles:

  • Putting the lifelong learner first

  • Building an integrated tertiary education system

  • Bringing stakeholders together

  • Looking to the four nations of the UK and beyond

Together, these principles underpin every part of our work, from research to advocacy, from convening to commentary. They are the bedrock on which we must build the 21st-century education system that the UK’s learners urgently deserve.

Putting the lifelong learner first


Our work looks at education from the viewpoint of the lifelong learner. We want to smooth the path for every learner to move freely around the education ‘climbing frame’, acquiring skills at the pace they need. Everyone’s trajectory will look different. You might go straight from school to college and university. Or you might come back to education later in life when you retrain for a new job, when you start a family, or when you retire. You might learn on the job, at home, for work or pleasure, for yourself or to engage with others in your community. That diversity and flexibility is what lifelong learning is all about.

We explore what learners need to make their transition in and out of education as easy as possible. What motivates them to learn, and what gives them the confidence to do so. How to spread the cost of further training and qualifications fairly across learners, employers, and government. What information and advice will help learners choose the best courses and make the best career decisions. And how learners can ensure that the new skills they gain are recognised wherever they go next.

Building an integrated tertiary education system


We aim to break down outdated divides between the learning we pursue after leaving school. Across the UK, education institutions have pioneered new ways for different types of teaching and training to work together. Further and Higher Education. Full-time and part-time. Technical and academic. Vocational and non-vocational. Formal and informal. Monolithic and modular. Before we start working, and on the job.

We will look at how all these ways to gain knowledge and skills can be meshed together in a single tertiary system. We will help construct coherent pathways for lifelong learners, and suggest how government can help fund them. We will explore the new alliances that are needed between institutions who share similar research and teaching specialisms. We will analyse whether to build networks of distributed learning hubs or place-based education partnerships. And we will examine how to create a flexible nationwide accreditation system so learners can make their qualifications count.

Bringing stakeholders together


Businesses, government, and education providers all have a stake in improving learning and skills. The learners of today are the workforce of tomorrow, who need reliable public services and infrastructure. This means convening forums where stakeholders listen to each other’s priorities and challenges. And it means advocating for clear lines of accountability so joint education plans are properly implemented, locally and nationally, across all sectors.

We shine a light on how to achieve stakeholder collaboration, working with partners across the policy landscape and using insights from best practice to inform the national policy agenda. How to forge links between specialist education institutions, industry sectors, and government agencies. How to craft data-driven strategies to match course development with local skills needs. And making sure the voices of learners, workers, and local residents are taken into account.

Looking to the four nations of the UK and beyond


Innovation is happening across the UK, with Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland leading the way in building new models for lifelong education. They are exploring new ways to let learners move seamlessly through the education system wherever they choose to go. Heading abroad, we find a wealth of new approaches to learning and investment in innovative qualifications, employer engagement, and student finance support.

This diversity profoundly enriches us as a society. We can learn from each of the four nations and our international partners to transform lifelong education in every region of the UK. Aligning the needs and capacities of our education institutions, rather than forcing them into wasteful competition. Making skills and education funding a key ingredient of all future deals for local empowerment. And ensuring that we have the same quality of educational experience wherever we live.

Lifelong education for the 21st century


Our education gives us the tools to develop ourselves and our surroundings. What we know, and what we are capable of doing with it, helps us flourish as individuals. We realise strengths we never had, we make connections and develop understandings we could hardly imagine before. And we find new ways to play an integral part in our communities. To contribute, to serve, to be productive, to help them grow.

The mission of the Lifelong Education Institute is to champion all those who want to write a new chapter in their lives. Who want to gain the knowledge and skills they need to explore new chances and directions over the whole course of their lives. We believe in building an education system that lets the lifelong learner realise their aspirations.

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