What did the Lifelong Learning Department ever do for us?
Remember that ‘what did the Romans ever do for us’ sketch from the Monty Python film ‘The Life of Brian’? When I was asked recently to comment on my experiences of Lifelong Learning with Aberystwyth University, that’s what came to mind. Because we read a lot in the press about funding cuts, burnt-out tutors and stressed students. The current political climate for education is, well, shall we say ‘challenging’? But I want to speak of my personal experience, and to spotlight the truly incredible services being offered by our University. I want to say let’s value and applaud the rich and varied opportunity that is Lifelong Learning.
So, fellow Monty Python fans, what HAVE they done for us?
Well, apart from excellent courses, inspiring tutors, a friendly atmosphere, top of the range teaching facilities and acres of Library shelves filled with the most amazing resources (open 24 hours a day), you also get an email address, free Wi-Fi, web space, access to digital resources, computers, printing, publishing, an IT hot desk and connections with Universities worldwide. Phew. And when your course is coming to an end? Then access some superb careers and further training advice, all tailored to your specific needs.
And on a more social note, all Lifelong Learners get a student card and access to the Student Union. Enjoy discounts in cafes and bars across campus and in town and travel discounts via Mid Wales Travel. I hear the sporting facilities are incredible, and yep, you guessed it, they are discounted too.
Just like John Cleese, I was gob-smacked. This is value-added benefits on a grand scale that I just hadn’t been expecting when I signed up. And the most surprising thing? I found that course costs were no more than courses I’d seen in my local community hall, college or online. Join just ONE short course with Lifelong Learning and get a hell of a lot in return. For me personally it was the library facilities that turned the ‘value-added’ dial up to 11 (to reference another funny bone film ‘Spinal Tap’). To be able to immerse myself in text and images from any art genre that took my fancy, whenever I wanted, was truly amazing.
But most of all I found an impressive commitment from Lifelong Learning tutors to go ‘above and beyond’. To take a genuine interest in your hopes and your talents (however hidden!). To be curious and uplifting when you weren’t sure you were doing ok. And to be sincerely celebratory when you finally found your way.
Education changes lives. Lifelong Learning is a way for many of us to find our next step, or just to enjoy some self-care time. Because who is it for anyway? Well of course it’s for everyone. For people wanting to retrain or find new careers? Yes, certainly. But also, older people and people outside of mainstream education. People who have been out of circulation either through career mis-steps, or family commitments, or personal issues. People who dream of trying something new in a safe environment.
Don’t get me wrong, you’ll be challenged. But you’ll be supported and encouraged too. And there will be the dreaded ‘homework’ and assessments! But guess what? I thoroughly enjoyed it – I got to tailor the tasks to fit my strengths and my interests.
Through Lifelong Learning you can plan a clear route on to a degree course or you can just cherry pick the courses that appeal to you in a random (but very enjoyable) way. Plough on with courses every term or jump in only when you have time. Visit the campus as much as you like, or study from home ‘distance learning’ style. Draw, sew, paint, write or craft. Speak another language, study seaweed or local history, sea mammals or philosophy. It’s entirely up to you.
French psychiatrist Pierre Janet said “Every life is a piece of art, put together with all the means available”. Get started with Lifelong Learning and your own personal piece of art might just unfold before your very eyes. Mine is still very much a work in progress, but I’m quietly proud of how it’s turning out.
Candy Bedworth, Lifelong Learning student
Art and Design and Humanities
For her assessment on the Museum and Gallery Education and Interpretation course, Candy Bedworth designed an educational audio aid made for students with sight impairments. This excellent assessment was profiled as exemplary practice at AU Learning and Teaching Conference.
To find out more about the courses we are offering this academic year, please go to