Next week (21st-27th September) is Adult Learners’ Week – a campaign aiming to raise awareness of the value of adult learning.
However, while many Brits want to continue learning, a huge proportion say they face obstacles that prevent them from doing so.
The biggest barrier to British adults continuing their education is cost, with more than a third (35%) saying they’re unable to afford to study, while almost a fifth (19%) say they don’t have time.
A YouGov survey of 2,109 GB adults commissioned by distance learning provider Oxford Open Learning Trust found that, although 69% of respondents said they could be motivated to learn for any type of new qualification – from GCSEs to PHDs and industry certificates – only just over a quarter of Brits (27%) are likely to actually do so.
Almost half of millennials (25-34 year olds) say they are likely to consider studying for a new qualification in the future.
The other barriers that Brits said most commonly stop them studying are that they don’t have the time to devote to it (19%) and feeling that another qualification would be unnecessary because they feel they are educated enough (18%).
As well as respondents also saying that they lack the motivation to study (17%), the same number also said they lack the energy. Many Brits also commented that they deem themselves too old.
The research also revealed that many British adults would be happy to continue learning if they felt they could. Receiving a boost to their pay packet is only the third most common incentive, agreed by three in ten (30%) of Brits , whereas 42% would be more likely to take a course simply out of their own general interest in the subject.
The five most common issues that stop adults continuing with education in the future are:
- Lack of affordability (35%)
- Time constraints (19%)
- Not needing any further qualifications (18%)
- Lack of motivation (17%)
- Lack of energy (17%)
Greg Smith, head of operations at Oxford Open Learning Trust, said: “The fact that so many would like to study further, but don’t feel they can, points to a lot of misconceptions that people have about adult education.
“For those who think they’re too old, adult learning isn’t only about furthering a career – it’s also extremely beneficial in terms of mental health. There’s evidence to show that, not only does keeping the brain active combat depression and anxiety, but also helps prevent dementia in later life and boosts confidence.
“Studying for a new qualification with a distance learning course is also vastly different to a classroom, and can be spread over a longer period to fit in with your current work or lifestyle.
“The initial cost is often far outweighed by the benefits of gaining a new qualification, through an increase in pay, a promotion or a career change.”
Oxford Open Learning’s Top Tips for Adult Learners:
- Make the learning experience as relevant and useful as possible. Draw on your personal experiences and link the subject matter to real world benefits for your work and personal life
- Make learning as engaging as possible to boost motivation. Use a variety of learning stimuli, such as images, activites, videos, lectures and podcasts to find what works for you
- Breaking down information into bite-sized chunks can also help to make it easier to process, and don’t forget to take regular breaks to help you maintain concentration
- Master your skills by playing an active role in your learning experience. Exploring the subject matter through self-study and active participation can help you to learn in a way that is meaningful to you
- Let learning occur through mistakes. Trial and error can make the learning experience more effective, while the sense of overcoming a challenge can help to boost confidence
More advice on how to overcome perceived barriers to adult education can be read here:
Notes to editor:
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,109 adults. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
About Oxford Open Learning Trust
We are dedicated to helping you achieve your learning goals at a time and place that suits you. Whether you describe our courses as home study or distance learning, it all equates to the same thing – high quality, comprehensive and flexible study materials that can be accessed anytime, anywhere.