Coronavirus: latest information

This conference has been cancelled due to factors outside of our control. It is anticipated that it will be rearranged  for a suitable time next year. Many thanks for your interest.

Dates: Wednesday 22nd – Thursday 23rd April 2020

Venue: Swansea University, Singleton Park, Swansea SA2 8PP

This conference will explore the roles of adult education and lifelong learning in addressing social, economic and cultural divides between communities and higher education institutions. The purposes and effectiveness of universities’ civic engagement strategies and the role(s) of adult education are the subject of much current debate.  Around the world, universities are being asked how their values are best embedded within the wider arenas of the economy, culture and democracy and within shifting notions of citizenship and place.  At the heart of the discussion are questions about the ownership of universities by citizens, communities, regions and nations.

Swansea University celebrates its Centenary in 2020.  Mindful of our work in the Department of Adult Continuing Education, of the civic mission expected of Welsh Universities, and Swansea’s status as a UNESCO Learning City, we are holding a distinctive, ambitious and international conference.  2020 also marks twenty-five years since the 1995 Swansea conference on Communities and their Universities and the subsequent book of that title. 

The 2020 conference will place debates and themes within the context of policy developments across the four jurisdictions of the United Kingdom.  It will also explore, how lifelong learning and civic engagement of universities are shaped in Wales by the country’s bilingual culture, innovative policy developments such as the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (2015) and the commitment to part-time student funding following the Diamond Review. 

Confirmed Keynote Speakers 

  • Kirsty Williams (AM)  Minister for Education - Welsh Government
  • Professor Mary Stuart, Vice-Chancellor - University of Lincoln
  • Jane Robinson, Dean of Engagement and Place - Newcastle University
  • Rob Humphreys, Member of Council - Higher Education Funding Council for Wales

This conference aims to address 5 key themes:

  • “Ownership” of Universities: Engagement Culture and the Civic Mission
  • Lifelong learning – a human right?
  • Skills and Employability – economic marginalisation/foundation economy and entrepreneurship
  • International Perspectives – learning from elsewhere/through other UNESCO Learning cities
  • Widening and deepening access including specific action for minority groups

For further information on this event, please email.

This event is sponsored by Adult Learning Wales, The Open University in WalesLearning and Work Institute  and College of Arts and Humanities 

OU and ALW Logo

English Conference Logos


Conference Fees:

  • £140 (for 2 days)
  • £80 for Wednesday only
  • £80 for Thursday only

Concessions are available for voluntary sector organisations and community learners. Please email for further information.

We are currently exploring the possibility of publishing conference contributions.