Roundtable ‘How can higher education institutions be transformed into lifelong learning institutions? Strategic reflections and discussions'

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  • Date: 18 May 2022
  • Where: Barcelona (Spain)

On Wednesday, 18 May, at 14:30 (CEST), the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) will host the roundtable ‘How can higher education institutions (HEIs) be transformed into lifelong learning institutions? Strategic reflections and discussions’, which will examine the steps needed to be taken to recast HEIs into lifelong learning institutions. It will touch upon topics including institutional strategies, funding and organizational structures, quality assurance mechanisms, widening access, providing diverse learning formats, developing innovative teaching and learning modalities, offering flexible learning pathways and strengthening community engagement. Some of the key findings of a collaborative research project undertaken by UIL and Shanghai Open University on the contribution of HEIs to lifelong learning will be introduced as input for discussions. It is expected that the roundtable will contribute to an understanding of how an HEI that follows a lifelong learning approach can be defined and the opportunities and barriers that can be expected by HEIs in making this transformation. Promising examples of HEIs that have embraced lifelong learning will also be shared.


The UNESCO WHEC2022 will take place from 18 to 20 May 2022 in Barcelona, Spain, in a hybrid format. It targets a broad range of stakeholders with an interest in higher education with the aim of defining and preparing a roadmap for a new era of higher education systems and institutions. Around 2,000 participants are expected to attend the event in person, with another 10,000 registered online. To register for online participation, see here.

About the UIL project on the contribution of higher education institutions to lifelong learning

The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong learning (UIL) and Shanghai Open University (SOU) are exploring the role of higher education institutions (HEIs) for lifelong learning (LLL) within the framework of a comprehensive three-year international research project. The project aims to develop a knowledge base on how and to what extent different types of HEIs contribute to LLL; it also examines the role a LLL agenda plays in the transformation process of the higher education sector in response to current societal developments. This comprehensive research project consists of several components, including an extended literature review, an international survey of HEIs, institutional case studies to capture trends and innovative practices, as well as three thematic research projects: (1) the role of HEIs in building learning cities, (2) HEIs’ social responsibility and community engagement, and (3) HEIs role in addressing the learning needs of ageing societies.

Further information

  • UIL research project: www.uil.unesco.org/en/higher-education-lifelong-learning
  • UNESCO World Higher Education Conference 2022: www.unesco.org/en/education/higher-education/2022-world-conference
  • Download the programme here: www.uil.unesco.org/sites/default/files/medias/fichiers/2022/05/WHEC%20Roundtable%201%20-%20Programme.pdf
  • Language of event: English, French, Spanish

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