Without having or needing educational qualifications, I attended a two year full-time course in economics and politics at Ruskin College from 1960 to 1962. It supplied me with the educational transformation of my life and gave me access to University.
From 1966 to 1987, I taught at Sheffield in Adult Education mainly to classes of Trade Unionists and on Access Courses. Many of students (who themselves had no relevant qualifications) went on to study full-time at Adult Education Colleges and/or Universities. They invariably used their final qualifications in ways that were a positive value to society. Those entering Sheffield University obtained better than average degree results.
I always considered that I shared in our studies, learning from students and thus benefited as much as anyone. Yet I never set any exams for anyone, apart for some exam practice for those required to sit an entrance exam for (of all people) the Philosophy Department at Sheffield University.
The form of education I was involved with (as student and tutor) for 23 years of my life has virtually been destroyed in a process started under Thatcherism and being completed by New Labour.
Any adult without relevant formal qualifications, wishing to benefit from higher education now has to jump through a number of early hoops to pick up qualifications mainly via a series of modules. It is the early hoops which deter many. This even impacts upon the work of today's Adult Education Colleges.
Furthermore, adults are likely to be pushed into avenues of part-time education. For (often with family commitments) they are put-off by the operations of the student loan system and by finding that the education that is available is increasingly being determined for them by their employers. Education in which adults can develop their interests, widen their horizons and to help contribute to a more vibrant democracy is being swept aside. Unfortunately, the Government doesn't have the wit to realise that the form of education they are attacking is also the best way to equip people to take up valuable employment.
A body I worked closely with was the Workers' Educational Association. The latest attack on their work is highlighted here.
Hat Tip "Fat Man On A Keyboard".