The importance of community context within Scottish lifelong learning

David Finkelstein, Jenny Hoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This piece explores two questions key to the development of lifelong learning in the Centre for Open Learning at the University of Edinburgh: how to develop programmes that act in the public good and how to ensure suchprogrammes align with overarching university priorities in teaching, learning and wider engagement. We discuss the challenge of balancing directives emerging from internal support needs; community and government priorities; andcommercial sustainability. We briefly outline some of the programmes we run that address these distinct areas, and utilise recent focus group and marketing data to offer a nuanced perspective as to who engages with our lifelong learning provision. We explore how we can best measure the impact of what we do and use the results to drive forward future initiatives. We conclude by reflecting on what is needed from our institutional models of open learning in order that we might have an improved role in supporting public engagement activity; to ensure a sustainable financial approach, and to function as a provider of educational opportunities for the public good.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-110
Number of pages16
JournalWidening Participation and Lifelong Learning
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • lifelong learning
  • community engagement
  • short course programme Design
  • widening participation and access


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