Want to quit? Get studying

May 30, 2003

Taking a course in your 30s can help you give up smoking, make you more racially tolerant and reverse a general decline in life satisfaction, according to research.

Government departments should promote adult learning as a way of tackling these problems and of getting more people involved in civic life, suggests the report from the Centre for Research on the Wider Benefits of Learning at the Institute of Education and Birkbeck College.

Using data from a national cohort study of 10,000 people born in Britain in 1958, researchers compared the health behaviour and sociopolitical attitudes of adults who completed one or two courses between the ages of 33 and 42, with those of participants who took none.

Adult learners benefited on nine of 12 outcomes. Those who completed courses were more likely to make healthier lifestyle choices, such as giving up smoking and exercising more often. They were also more likely to join organisations and to vote.

Lead researcher Leon Feinstein said that while adult education should by no means override the government's focus on schools and higher education "it's about the balance. Adult learning offers very real long-term possibilities and benefits."

Experiences of some adult learners not associated with the study support its findings.

Craig Thompson, 42, of Harlow, Essex, found that pursuing an MBA helped him decide to quit smoking.

"I couldn't balance trying to improve my standard of living with ruining my standard of living by smoking," he said. "Those two things just didn't fit together."

For Glyn Marsh, 40, completing an MBA through the Open University motivated him to increase his involvement in his local school in Middleton Cheney, Northamptonshire, giving him skills and the self-assurance to become chair of governors.

The study found that different courses could be related to different benefits. Academic courses seemed to correspond to increased social and political involvement, and leisure courses were related to improved health behaviours and sociopolitical benefits.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Professor of Military Technology THE SWEDISH DEFENCE UNIVERSITY
Director of Digital Services STAFFORDSHIRE UNIVERSITY
Technician for Psychology Programmes ST MARYS UNIVERSITY, TWICKENHAM

Most Commented

Home secretary says government will support 'best' universities

Woman drinking tea from saucer

Plugging a multibillion-pound deficit exacerbated by June’s poll result may require ‘drastic measures’, analysts have warned

PhD lettered on book spine

Billy Bryan and Furaha Asani look at how to get the most out of your doctoral studies

Italy's gold medallist

New measures to ensure universities are ‘not penalised’ for taking poorer students also outlined for next stage of TEF

Classroom, school

Higher education institutions can and should do more to influence education at a secondary school level, says Edward Peck