The Joy Club member Kathy Feest provides some useful pointers on where one can – as of recently – go to pursue lifelong learning…
Last month in Parliament, a new way of funding tuition for educational courses of every description was enshrined in law. And yes it is of interest to those of us who haven’t just finished our GCSEs or A levels! The new pathway to funding is called, The Lifelong Learning Entitlement. From 2025, these funding arrangements (mostly in the form of loans) are available to all up to the age of 60! After that, according to the Government website, “Learners who are over 60 may still qualify for maintenance support, though not a tuition fee loan.” Joy Clubbers have a look… you never know, you may be able to find just what you need for your lifelong learning journey!
After passing through the House of Commons in the spring – following amendments – the Bill had its third reading in the House of Lords, where no further amendments were tabled and so it passed unchanged. It received royal assent on 18th September 2023 and became the Lifelong Learning (Higher Education Fee Limits) Act 2023.
The likelihood is that you’ve been on your own personal journey of lifelong learning for a long time now, even though you may not have stopped to think of it in that way. At this stage and age you will have accumulated your own reservoir of knowledge that you usefully tap into as you move your life forward. Inevitably, some of your learning has come from formal environments, either in classrooms or libraries or seminar rooms, or for many in the professions among us, in the form of personal development plans. Yet the meaningful and truly personal learning that each of us has accumulated has often arisen from the events and experiences surrounding the circumstances of our lives.
The fact that “Lifelong Learning Entitlement” has become embedded in law is a testament to the proponents of that concept, to those who have been hailing it as the way forward for many decades.
The concept of lifelong learning grew out of initial educational theories first considered in the 1960s (Oxford Handbook of Lifelong Learning: London, M. Editor:OUP:2021). The concepts were further developed following a report by UNESCO known as the “Faure report”. The thinking then was that education should become a transformative and liberating force both formally in educational establishments and informally throughout every person’s life. Now in 2023, the idea of Lifelong Learning has become formalised in the UK.
According to the government report, the Lifelong Learning Entitlement, or LLE as they have christened it, will be available from 2025. The funding is distributed and discussed in terms of loans and these loans will be available for accredited courses from teenage years until the cut-off at 60.
They have not discussed how they decided 60 was the age to finish funding, but do say that after sixty there will be the possibility of receiving funding for accredited courses. This means of funding fulfils the government’s objective that “every student, with the aptitude and the desire, will get the support they need to pursue higher-level learning. It wants to give learners a real choice in life and not to feel like there is only one route or one shot at success. Many learners need to access courses in a more flexible way, to fit study around work, family and personal commitments in response to employers’ needs.”
Life is for living and learning and growing and thriving. Despite the setbacks and the challenges that have come our way, the potential for learning awaits us at every age. No matter how old you are, you have the ability to shape your life and learn something new. Yes, there are setbacks and ill-health – yours and others too, but find a way to follow your heart!
As long as lifelong learning is your aspiration, then life itself can open up to you. If you need some inspiration, look at the options available at The Joy Club. And importantly, sit quietly with a cup of tea and remind yourself what it was that thrilled you when you were younger and see if you can find a way back into that sort of activity once again. The Joy Club really is an excellent place to begin that journey.
A woman in her 90s was asked if she had any regrets. Her reply? “Only one really. When I was 70 I wanted to learn to play the violin but I thought I was too old. I regret never taking it up because I could have been playing for over 20 years by now! “
Whatever your dream or desire…take small steps towards it. Lifelong learning means exactly that – lifelong. You are never too old to learn something your heart seeks. And now, for the first time, even our law-makers are beginning to see that. I suspect they had different agendas than follow your heart, but nevertheless, they have made that a possibility!
To begin (or, indeed, continue) your lifelong learning journey, take a look at what lectures and creative workshops The Joy Club has coming up in their full events calendar…