29 November 2018

Wieger Bakker to provide impulse to education for professionals

Utrecht University appoints ‘Lifelong learning’ Dean

As of 1 December 2018, Professor Dr Wieger Bakker will be appointed to the position of Dean for Lifelong learning at Utrecht University. The government encourages ‘Lifelong learning’ to ensure that adults can also continue to gain sufficient knowledge and skills in order to become or remain sustainably employable on the job market. Utrecht University shares this ambition and gives the Dean the 2.5-year assignment to further develop the offered range of degree programmes for professionals and connect it to the perspective of more flexible education and broad accessibility.

Utrecht University already has several degree programmes, training programmes and courses for professionals who like to keep on learning. The ambition to embed Lifelong learning can be found in the Strategic Plan and the university actively works on that in the form of the programme Lifelong learning. By 2020, the university wants to have an up-to-date and attractive offering of education that properly facilitates Lifelong learning and is adjusted to the demands of the job market, professionals and alumni. Recent research among alumni shows a big need for post-graduate courses. Professor of Quality and Innovation of Society Oriented Higher Education Wieger Bakker will encourage and support the vision of the university in the upcoming years.

Lifelong learning will become a natural part of our education: it's no longer a question of IF we are going to do it, but of HOW we are going to approach it.
Dean LifeLong Learning

Towards more Lifelong learning

According to recent numbers of Statistics Netherlands (CBS) on the education of adults, over 1.7 million people (19 %) were enrolled in some form of education. This varies from full degree programmes to courses and workshops. The Netherlands have set the goal that 20 percent of adults between the ages of 25 and 65 years will participate in ‘Lifelong learning’ by 2020. Bakker: “We are going to contribute to that. At Utrecht University, we work on social issues from a multidisciplinary approach. We are ahead of the curve in terms of lecturer professionalisation and we are a strong player in the field of education innovation.”

Continuous learning pathway

Bakker: “Lifelong learning will become a natural part of our education: it's no longer a question of IF we are going to do it, but of HOW we are going to approach it.” The new Lifelong learning Dean wants to stop differentiating between initial and post-academic education: “It's a continuous learning pathway: people enter the job market with a basic level of knowledge and skills, and will have various jobs. They'll want and continue to learn, people want to stay inspired. So we will meet people on various occasions in their careers.”

Educating in connection with society

Lifelong learning contributes to the circulation of knowledge that is necessary to our economy AND to the development and functioning of professionals. Bakker: “On top of that, Lifelong learning will put us in direct contact with those who use the results of our research and with societal sectors and issues that yield new research questions. That's how we shape societal responsibility. That responsibility does not simply end at the age of 25 years. To me, the challenge lies in together discovering forms and contents of Lifelong learning befitting the needs of society and our needs as a university.”