The global expansion of participation rates in higher education continue more or less unabated. However, while the concept of lifelong learning has figured prominently in national and international educational policy discourse for more than three decades, its implications for the field of higher education has remained relatively underdeveloped.

This book focuses on a particular dimension of the lifelong learning: higher education for those who have not progressed directly from school to higher education. Some will embark on undergraduate programmes as mature students, part-time and/or distance students; others wish to return to higher education after having completed (or not completed) a previous academic programme, while increasing numbers participate in postgraduate and continuing studies for a complex mix of professional and personal reasons.

Adopting a comparative and international longitudinal perspective which goes beyond a snapshot view by building on the cases of a core group of ten OECD countries, this timely book investigates the ways in which important new developments impacting on higher education crystallise around the lifelong learning agenda:

  • new technology and open source resources;
  • the changing role of the state and market in higher education;
  • the blurring of public and private boundaries;
  • issues of equity and access in a time of global economic turmoil;
  • the increased emphasis on research and international league tables;
  • the changing nature of the education; and,
  • the complex interaction of international, national and regional expectations which governments and other stakeholders have of universities and other public and private institutions of higher education.

While focusing on the situation in Canada, USA, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and a wide variety of European countries, the book also assesses the issues from the perspective of developing countries.


Launched by the Irish Minister of Education, this timely book is a must read. Find out more here: https://www4.dcu.ie/ovpli/herc/book_launch  

part I|21 pages

Comparative Perspectives

chapter 1|19 pages

All Change – No Change?

Lifelong Learners and Higher Education Revisited
ByMaria Slowey, Hans G. Schuetze

part II|110 pages


chapter 2|18 pages


Non-Traditional Students in the 2000s
ByHans Pechar, Angela Wroblewski

chapter 3|17 pages


From Individual Talent to Institutional Permeability: Changing Policies for Non-Traditional Access Routes in German Higher Education
ByAndrä Wolter

chapter 4|22 pages


Lifelong Learning and Higher Education in Ireland: Turbulent Times
ByMaria Slowey

chapter 5|15 pages


Higher Education and Lifelong Education in Portugal
ByAlberto Amaral, Madalena Fonseca

chapter 6|15 pages


Higher Education and Lifelong Learning in Sweden
ByCamilla Thunborg, Agnieszka Bron

chapter 7|21 pages

United Kingdom

Universities and Lifelong Learning in the UK – Adults as Losers, but who are the Winners?
ByMichael Osborne, Muir Houston

part III|60 pages

North America

chapter 8|22 pages


Large Archipelago, Small Bridges and Infrequent Ferries: Lifelong Learning and Canadian Higher Education
ByHans G. Schuetze

chapter 9|16 pages


Great Expectations, Scattered Approaches, Disjointed Results: The Rocky Road to Lifelong Learning in Mexican Higher Education
ByGermán Álvarez-Mendiola

chapter 10|20 pages

United States of America

Adult Higher Education and Lifelong Learning in the USA: Perplexing Contradictions
ByCarol E. Kasworm

part IV|55 pages

Pacific – Australia, Japan and New Zealand

chapter 11|22 pages


Intensifying Performance and Learner-Centredness in Australian Higher Education
ByHarsh Suri, David Beckett

chapter 12|13 pages


Lifelong Learning and Higher Education in Japan
ByShinichi Yamamoto

chapter 13|18 pages

New Zealand

Lifelong Learning and Higher Education in Aotearoa New Zealand
ByBrian Findsen

part V|30 pages

Perspectives from Two ‘BRICS' Countries

chapter 14|15 pages

South Africa

Higher Education in Lifelong Learning in a Middle-Income Country:1 But by the Grace of Champions?
ByShirley Walters

chapter 15|13 pages


Lifelong Learning and the Role of the University in Brazil: Some Reflections
ByAna Canen

part VI|10 pages


chapter 16|8 pages


A Look Around the Corner
ByMaria Slowey, Hans G. Schuetze