When it comes to traditional adult education, there’s been little to cheer in recent years, with local authorities and colleges alike cutting back on part-time provision for older learners as budgets have shrunk.
A particularly emotive case last year was that of the renowned Vaughan Centre for Lifelong Learning run by the University of Leicester. The centre can trace its roots back to 1862 when it was founded to provide education for the under-educated men of Leicester. It later expanded to become a facility for broader adult education for both men and women, eventually moving to its own premises. But in 2013 the university closed the site, moving the facility to its main campus. In 2016, it announced that it would be shutting down the department altogether because of funding pressures.
The move triggered deep anger in the local community, prompting the #SaveVaughan campaign and a petition attracting almost 3,000 signatures. The university branch of the University and College Union warned the move would “result in irreversible damage to the university’s reputation”, while local MP Jon Ashworth said he was “shocked and saddened”.
But last week came some altogether happier news: the launch of the new Leicester Vaughan College. This time, it is independent of the university and will be run in partnership with the city council’s Leicester Adult Skills and Learning Service, with staff from the old centre helping to set it up. The new institution is an independent higher education college, set up as a co-operative community benefit society, specialising in part-time HE for adult learners.
Courses starting this month include drug and alcohol counselling, counselling with relationship skills and mindfulness. Founder member Miriam Gill described the launch event last week as a “very exciting moment for everyone who has worked so hard to establish Leicester Vaughan College”. FErret couldn’t agree more – congratulations to those involved in protecting lifelong learning for the people of Leicester.
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