July 25, 2023

Lifelong learning must become an attitude

An action plan at every faculty, more than 100 micro-credentials, an alliance with two other Flemish universities: the University of Antwerp is very focused on lifelong learning.

Lifelong learning (LLL) is far from a mandatory activity to the University of Antwerp. ‘Through LLL, we want to translate the latest innovations and developments in scientific research to society’, commissioner Jan Dries says. ‘Over the past few months, all faculties worked out a strategic plan from their own specific context and with a view to their specific professional field. It also includes an action plan to identify and then remove the main barriers to LLL.’

Micro-credentials are an essential part of lifelong learning. Dries: ‘We are fully convinced of the importance of micro-credentials. Next academic year, we will offer 89 micro-credentials, of which 55 are in English. Around twenty are still in the pipeline. Some of these micro-credentials build on our basic study programmes, but almost half are specifically developed in dialogue with the field and respond to new skills and labour market needs.’

In the cockpit

In the European context, UAntwerp is doing extremely well in terms of micro-credentials. Together with Ghent University and Vrije Universiteit Brussel, the University of Antwerp is shaping the Nova Academy, which offers as many as 147 micro-credentials. ‘This is no simple task. A legislative framework is currently still being developed in both Flanders and Europe. We are in the cockpit.’

The University of Antwerp will continue to focus on continuing education and in-service training in other areas in the coming years. Dries: ‘A recent OECD report showed that we do not have a strong culture of lifelong learning in Flanders. Therefore, it is important that students learn to adopt this attitude in our basic study programmes. Extra attention will be paid to postgraduate programmes, specific short-term and long-term study programmes, and the offer for working students. Lectures and study days are also forms of LLL: so we are going to focus on those as well.’

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