• Develop and realise the university strategy towards LLL and continuing professional education in collaboration with faculties, the university corporate office and industry
  • Advocate the mission of the Extension School

Lifelong learning (LLL) has been steadily gaining momentum at national, European and international level. Current, multi-stakeholders conversations centre around the role of governments, industry, and education institutions with regard to a clear definition, proper quality assurance, and a working framework that enable a scaling up of a lifelong learning culture. The provision of relevant offerings, in particular for working professionals, is integral to the TU Delft’s strategic goals and one of the drivers behind several LLL initiatives that the Extension School is taking a leading role in. Some are highlighted below.

Lifelong development

The TU Delft Executive Board has invested the Director of the Extension School with setting up a TU Delft working group for Lifelong Learning to further articulate and help plan the university’s ambitions in this field. In addition, TU Delft is closely involved in this area as a member of Universities of the Netherlands (VSNU) and in conjunction with the 4TU.Federation LLL Sector plan.

Dutch national catalogue

Together with the Open University, the Extension School led a joint project of all VSNU member institutions to develop a national lifelong learning catalogue. Launched in November, this dual-language Dutch and English platform provides a comprehensive overview of all post-graduate education for adults and professionals on offer in the Netherlands. TU Delft is the second main contributor with over 170 on- and offline courses and programs. The catalogue makes it easier for learners to find and access relevant education, whilst enhancing the visibility of the institutions’ work supporting lifelong learning and providing insights into potential gaps in the offering.

National Growth Fund

Within the National Growth Fund initiative, the Extension School prepared a €400 million proposal for the Lifelong Learning Catalyst project. This aims to create sustainable employability for the Dutch working population by strengthening the LLL infrastructure and supporting the transition toward innovative and future-proof education. The project focuses on the process of demand articulation, supply development, and activation of the workforce – facilitating a match between training demand and supply; the latter also via creating a Lifelong Learning Radar to provide insight into which skills are needed in the future. Funding is expected to be granted in April 2022.

Sharing our vision for continuing education

Regular participation in conferences and events relating to open and online education and lifelong learning is an important outreach activity through which the Extension School further promotes our University’s vision and role in the development and delivery of high-quality continuing education.

In 2021, we gave keynote addresses and were members of panels at several conferences, for example at EDUtech Europe 2021; EADTU Innovating Higher Education 2021; EAIE 2021 Community Exchange; and the Groningen Declaration Annual Meeting.

In addition, we co-authored Moving Horizontally: The New Dimensions of at-Scale Learning in the Time of COVID-19, an open-access e-book by GeorgiaTech where Extension School front-runners Janine Kiers and Bertien Broekhans shared the approach taken by TU Delft in the wake of the pandemic to shift online education from a ‘to many learners’ (vertical scale) delivery model to ‘by many teachers’ (horizontal scale). While an opinion piece by our Vice-Rector Magnificus Robert Mudde, co-authored by Nida van Leersum (ES Policy Advisor) and Willem van Valkenburg (ES Executive Director), appeared in the TH&MA Higher Education magazine, highlighting the role of universities in the context of current worldwide trends in teaching and learning and presenting lessons learned from the Extension School as a case study. Another example reflecting our advocacy and commitment to continuing education was the election of Willem van Valkenburg to Board Member of EDEN – the European Distance and e-Learning Network. To further support the visibility of our educational portfolio, the initiatives we lead, and the positive impact we bring to individuals and society, we created and launched a dedicated website under the TU Delft’s umbrella. Numerous blog posts, press, and internal articles throughout the year showcased the activities and success of our University, its lecturers, and the Extension School in continuing education; a short selection is included in this report.

Energy Switch Zuid-Holland

This initiative, part of the growth agenda projects of the Human Capital Agreement of the Economic Board Zuid-Holland, supplies a dedicated platform bringing together knowledge institutions, pilot locations, government bodies and several companies in the region to provide the training necessary to a successful transition to a low-carbon economy. It aims to improve cooperation between existing, local initiatives to help people acquire the knowledge and skills they need for a job in the energy transition; concurrently, it works to provide better insights into the market for the supply of such training. The Extension School leads this initiative together with the TU Delft Green Village.

Lifelong Learning Sector plan education project

This collaborative initiative by the 4TU.Federation, comprising TU Delft, the Eindhoven University of Technology, the University of Twente, and Wageningen University & Research, strongly connects with national developments in the field of lifelong education and results from the ‘Sectorplan bètatechniek’ drafted in June 2020. It focusses on increasing the number of graduated students and aims at filling employment gaps in the disciplines of electrical and mechanical engineering, and information technology. The target group comprises alumni with a background in those disciplines and workers who want to (re)train in these fields at university and higher-vocational education level.

Extension School for Continuing Education

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