Learners for life: vocationalism and emancipation

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Research and Development in Higher Education: Learning for an Unknown Future Vol. 26

July, 2003, 692 pages
Published by
Helen Mathews and Rod McKay
0 90 8557 55 8

This paper reports findings from a survey of mature students, studying at a New Zealand polytechnic, placing the results within the context of the continuing discussion of 'lifelong learning'. The high number of mature students in New Zealand is reflected in the numbers enrolled at the institution. Information is provided about their characteristics including family status, gender and dependants and previous education and occupational history. Gender is a significant variable, particularly when combined with age and dependants. Women appear to be advantaged by the existence of part-time study. Particular attention is paid to the reasons the students provide for undertaking further education. Originally conceived of by adult educators as an emancipatory measure, lifelong learning has become to be regarded by governments and international organisations as a means of enhancing economic growth. Given that the students were enrolled in courses which had a primary vocational focus, the paper speculates as to whether this means that lifelong learning fulfils a narrow purpose or whether, although they volunteered that their purpose in studying was vocational, many of the students may indeed be 'lifelong learners'.

Keywords: Lifelong learning; mature students; vocational education

Learners for life: vocationalism and emancipation

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Kuiper, A.