Educating part-time higher ed students is undeniably complex, and critical for the economy, employers, society, and the non-traditional, working adult student. This is especially true as nations accelerate their embrace of an increasingly diverse, multi-skilled workforce and are committed to lifelong learning to help spur economic growth. Tricia King, pro-vice-master for student experience and director of external relations at Birkbeck, University of London, skillfully addresses these trends with telling research from across the pond.
As evidence, King cites a new report, “The power of part-time,” published by Universities UK (UUK), which emphasizes how part-time study is a “powerhouse for skills” and calls for immediate action to improve and better understand provisions for part-time students. Not too long ago, full-time-study was the standard for most learners — earning a degree first before entering the workforce. As she points out, “There is strong evidence of the social and personal benefits of lifelong learning.” The potential benefits of part-time education also extend to top employers as they compete for talent and boost their employee and leadership development investments.
While there are some nuances compared to the American experience, there are also similarities to how more working adults here are gravitating to more flexible higher education to better accommodate their unique needs. Like those students and graduates that I’ve been proud to meet at APUS, King notes, “Our students are remarkable adults who juggle work and family with study. They struggle and sacrifice to improve their opportunities in life.” To meet this evolving consumer trend, committed institutions like APUS are providing online, asynchronous platforms with personalized learning options. Consumers are seeking advantageous options for learning and, by doing so, they are helping to determine what education will be like in the future.
Our students, whether active-duty service men and women or those working in other public and private arenas, continue to admirably pursue additional education at whatever time and virtual location best suits their busy lifestyle. Their common purpose is to advance their career within their chosen profession or, often, a new one altogether. As King so unabashedly concludes—I too am proud to champion their collective cause and accomplishment through the availability of lifelong learning.