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Cardiff Centre for Lifelong Learning – the future

Cardiff University is currently considering options to secure the future of the Centre for Lifelong Learning. This page sets out the background to the situation, the decisions the University faces, and answers some of the questions which have arisen in the public debate surrounding the Centre. This issue is also out to consultation with the Centre’s staff and relevant trades unions.


The Centre for Lifelong Learning (LEARN) is the University’s principal provider of part-time education, and has three areas of activity:

  • Continuing Professional & Business Development
  • Widening Access
  • The CHOICES programme, a multidisciplinary programme of courses aimed at the general public (the largest area).

The University is currently implementing new pay agreements for all of its hourly-paid staff. This embodies its commitment to the principle of equal pay for work of equal value. For many Cardiff University staff, including staff at the Centre for Lifelong Learning, this will mean an improvement in pay and conditions. There are, naturally, cost implications to this process. Further information on this can be found here.

As the majority of the staff working on the CHOICES programme are hourly-paid, the Centre for Lifelong Learning faces a substantial increase in costs. This would be enough to wipe out the Centre’s entire reserves in one year. Cardiff University is committed to providing university-level adult education for the people of south Wales. The Centre for Lifelong Learning will stay open. It will continue to provide a strong range of courses enabling people across Wales to develop their skills and interests, benefiting the economy and the community as whole. The present consultation is designed to ensure this happens.

The options

After consideration of the choices open to the Centre, the option being recommended to the University is to make significant reductions in the range of courses provided at the Centre for Lifelong Learning. This appears to be the surest sustainable way to safeguard the future of the Centre. One of the purposes of the consultation is to determine the right combination of courses to ensure a viable Centre.

No final decisions have been taken on which courses would be lost at the Centre. However, under the recommendation, the Centre would concentrate on providing courses in modern languages, the social sciences, including business, science, the environment and computer studies. These broad subjects constitute a viable and coherent core of provision which can form a secure base for the Centre’s future work. They also offer skills-based topics or pathways which in the current economic circumstances are more likely to attract higher commitment from students.

The University has also been considering another option – an increase in fees to meet the increased costs. However, the Centre for Lifelong Learning faces an increase of around 40% in its salary costs. It would take a substantial increase in fees – around 20% for at least the next two years – to meet that cost. The University has to consider whether it would continue to attract sufficient numbers of students to the Centre if it made those increases.

The process

The consultation began with trades unions and staff on 20 April. No firm decisions will be made on any of the options until the three month consultation period required by law ends in July. After that point, a special meeting of the University’s Council would have to make the final decision.

The University is exploring all avenues and is open to all suggestions on how best to resolve the issues facing the Centre. The University is determined to avoid redundancies wherever possible and is actively exploring the opportunities of redeploying Centre staff in other Schools where appropriate vacancies arise. This has been agreed with the unions on a without prejudice basis.

New courses at the Centre for Lifelong Learning will begin in September, and the Centre will start to market these through its CHOICES programme once next year’s activity has been finally decided. This page will be updated as the situation changes.

Welsh language provision for adults

Cardiff University is committed to a bilingual Wales and is a major provider of adult Welsh language instruction. There are no implications in the situation at the Centre for Lifelong Learning for the separate adult services run by the University’s School of Welsh. The School provides tuition to more than 1700 adults in South Wales through its Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan Welsh for Adults Centre. The School of Welsh will also continue its mission to deliver teaching and research of international distinction in the language.

Cardiff University and the humanities

Cardiff University is firmly committed to teaching and research in the humanities subjects, believing they are vital to the life of the nation and for the transferable skills they develop for the employment market. More than 6,600 students study in the humanities at both undergraduate and postgraduate level at Cardiff. All the University’s humanities Schools had research rated as world-leading in the recent UK-wide Research Assessment Exercise. Furthermore the University has established the Cardiff Humanities Research Institute to encourage research collaborations, knowledge-sharing, intellectual debate and exchange across all areas of research in our humanities schools.