Tutors resolute despite lifelong death knell

September 10, 2009

Earth science tutors at the University of Bristol have said they will continue to teach lifelong learning courses - in spite of the university's decision to close these programmes because of reduced public funding.

After three decades, Bristol has closed its lifelong learning programme in the department of earth sciences, despite attracting more than 600 students in recent years.

After the Government's controversial decision to withdraw funding for equivalent or lower-level qualifications (ELQs), the university decided to close the programme to focus scarce resources on its mainstream activities.

Despite the closure, academics leading the lifelong learning courses have promised to continue teaching.

"Although there has been a reduction in enrolments on my geological courses during the last academic year owing to the recession, there is evidently still a strong desire among the public to attend," said Nick Chidlaw, a tutor who will continue to run his course independently.

"The bottom line is that tutors such as myself want to run courses, and plenty of people want to attend them. I am currently looking into ways to meet this demand. I hope that government policy in future will recognise this, and that funding will be reinstated," Dr Chidlaw said.

Tutors David Green and Rodney Hillier are also looking at ways to provide teaching in earth sciences for lifelong learning students in Bristol.

A spokeswoman for the university said the decision to shut down the courses was made "with deep regret". "The university could not have maintained all its lifelong learning provision without taking resources away from the institution's priorities, which are research and undergraduate and postgraduate teaching," she said.

Bristol will continue to offer lifelong learning in other departments, including modern languages, English and drama, which will be funded by the academic departments themselves.

It also offers taster and short courses as recruiting tools for some full degrees.

hannah.fearn@tsleducation.com.

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