Over-60s overdemand

February 18, 2005

Pensioners in the Czech Republic are being turned away in their thousands from university lifelong learning courses as demand for higher education among the over-60s outstrips supply.

Some 100,000 of the country's 2 million over-60s want to take specialised courses offered at 17 of the 24 Czech state universities. But, according to Petr Vavrin, president of the Czech branch of the Third Age Universities Association, there are places for only some 15,000.

Professor Vavrin, rector emeritus of Brno Technical University, has been instrumental in establishing "modern technology in daily life" courses designed to help older people learn about technologies such as the internet, mobile telephones, new methods of banking and the countless modern home devices many younger people take for granted.

Pressure from state universities prompted the Government to begin investing in developing "third-age" centres at state universities. Last year CZK 15 million (about £350,000) was spent on providing infrastructure, including classrooms and internet resources for use by older people.

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