The US government “gets” lifelong learning – so why don’t our politicians?

After I wrote about the fall in OU student numbers for a fourth consecutive year last Saturday, I decided to see if I could get a reaction from the five largest (by membership) UK-wide political parties by asking them about their policies for promoting lifelong learning.

My first attempt was on Sunday. I sent this tweet to @LibDems, @Conservatives, @UKLabour, and @TheGreenParty. I even held my nose and sent it to @UKIP – after all, who knows what May will bring.



I didn’t get a response (or even a click on the link to my article) from this. But it was Sunday. Maybe those who run political party twitter accounts take the day off. I can understand that. So undeterred, I tried a similar tweet on Monday: 


… and it got exactly the same result. Nothing. Yesterday, I tried to introduce an element of competition:


… and no-one has responded to that tweet.

Which is a shame. Because the lack of investment in lifelong learning, at all levels of study, directly impacts our ability to compete as a nation. It means we continue to fail to make the best possible use of our greatest resource – the people who live and work here.

By contrast, the Obama administration seems to genuinely “get” lifelong learning. Their latest proposal is to provide free access to two years of higher education through their network of community colleges for eligible students. This is in addition to what seems to be a well thought out and employer supported workforce training programme.

I’m going to keep on pestering our politicians about this. I’m particularly disappointed, but not wholly surprised,  by the lack of any kind of response so far from the political party I belong to.


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Reader Comments

  1. David

    Interesting idea asking political parties before the election what the party policy is on life long learning. Don’t forget it does not matter much what they say before the election. Its what they do after they get into a position of power. I fear it will be similar to the present political establishment. Reduced access…. reduced funding ….increased costs to student’s. I as many others have an interest in lifelong learning. However I have no interest in being ripped off by O.U or any other university. Surely there are relationships between price and consumption. When price increases dramatically demand falls quickly. This is evidenced by your graph regarding O.U student numbers. What about the radical idea of reducing fees allowing demand increase.

Your thoughts?