Education is not limited to those gaining a degree – it is about the opportunity to learn for every citizen. The University of Oxford has recognised this since the 19th century, when it pioneered the university extension movement. Today, through its Department for Continuing Education, the University is one of the largest centres in the UK for lifelong learning. More than 13,000 students, many of whom have had no previous contact with the University, or are studying for the first time, are currently taking more than 800 short and part-time courses.
Courses include evening and weekend classes, residential and summer schools, undergraduate and graduate level qualifications, professional development programmes, and courses delivered via the internet. Students on weekly classes at Continuing Education are likely to live within a 60-mile radius of Oxford, whilst day schools, award bearing courses, summer schools and online courses attract a wide array of students from across the UK and around the world.
Courses are offered in over 70 subject areas, as wide ranging as archaeology, economics, creative writing, environmental sciences, telecommunications, local and social history, modern languages, literature, philosophy and counselling.
SPOTLIGHT: WildCRU: Training conservationists in developing nations
Bornean Clouded leopard
Founded in 1986, WildCRU was the first university-based conservation research unit in Europe, and is today recognised as a world leader in the field. WildCRU has educated conservation scientists from around the world for decades; a postgraduate diploma trains conservationists from the developing world. The diploma, with a special focus on wild cats, equips conservation practitioners with the necessary scientific and professional skills to make a significant contribution to biodiversity conservation in developing countries, and strengthen those countries’ capacity for wildlife management. During the pilot stage, the group included biologists whose expertise ranged from tigers in China to leopards in Iran, lions in Tanzania and lynx in the Balkans – each region wrestling with huge conservation challenges.
"The diploma makes a great contribution to building conservation capacity in parts of the world where action is urgently needed on the ground, it stands as a milestone in opening access to Oxford."
David Macdonald, Director, WildCRU
Participants for Oxford’s international continuing education programmes come from more than 50 countries, including many developing nations. Featured below are is an example:
Masters in International Human Rights Law
A part-time degree involving distance learning via the internet as well as two summer sessions held at New College, the Master’s programme in International Human Rights Law has a globally recruited faculty including eminent human rights scholars and practitioners. Students come from every continent and are working in the United Nations and other international organisations, non-governmental organisations, the armed forces, universities, the media, medicine and other fields. Alumni have included two members of the War Crimes Tribunal Investigation Team in Rwanda, a US Navy defence lawyer working with Guantanamo detainees and several prosecutors for the International Criminal Court. Since January 2013 the programme has received £360,000 in scholarship funding from The Commonwealth Scholarship Foundation, the Brunsfield Foundation in Malaysia, the Vice-Chancellor and a number of generous alumni.