Bringing lifelong learning closer

VUB, UAntwerp and Ghent University launch Nova Academy

30 June 2021

VUB, UAntwerp and Ghent University are working together in the field of lifelong learning by setting up Nova Academy. Under the motto “Bringing learning to life”, the three universities want to strengthen lifelong learning in Flanders, with projects including multiple joint training initiatives. The first outcome is the launch of a joint platform that publishes and communicates the universities’ offerings, allowing anyone to search for a course.

The alliance between VUB, Ghent University and UAntwerp opens new perspectives for higher education in Belgium, and represents added value at the international level. The goal of the Nova Academy platform is to keep alumni and citizens up to date with developments within their field or to allow them to discover new fields, thus contributing to society’s needs. Lifelong learning is part of the policy objectives of the Flemish government and is an important objective at the European level in the European Higher Education Area. Its most important goal is to give everyone the opportunity for lifelong learning, within their own field and beyond.

The demand for accessible lifelong learning courses is not new. By creating Nova Academy, the three universities are meeting that demand. The shared platform lists all the further education courses, lectures and study days that can be followed at the universities. This includes one-off initiatives, short modules, longer courses of one or several years and postgraduate courses. In addition, the universities are working on new training initiatives and joint micro-credentials

Each institution is already organising refresher courses that fall within the scope of lifelong learning. These include postgraduate courses, permanent training, long- and short-term training, and lectures and study days. The existing offer at each university will be retained, and will be inventoried, deepened and extended.

Deepening and expansion

In addition to the joint Nova Academy platform, the universities are expanding new training initiatives: flexible training forms and appropriate educational activities, using the latest technologies for online education, lesson recordings, livestreams and blended learning to create as much added value as possible.

Under Nova Academy, lifelong learning offerings will also be broadened and opened up. A micro-credentials offer is being set up in response to the evolutions taking place at the Flemish and the European level. Through these micro-credentials, course units and part-time courses from the bachelor and master programmes can be brought together within the lifelong learning offer. The universities’ initial offerings contain numerous relevant combinations of course units that they can offer to learners, supplemented with both broadening and specialised post-initial courses, lectures and study days.

Caroline Pauwels, rector of VUB: “There is a large amount of lifelong learning on offer at the different institutions, but it is fragmented. With Nova Academy, we want to offer our target group of alumni a single information channel that stands above the existing channels. This makes the joint offerings structured and searchable. It is a great opportunity to strengthen our partnership and build something valuable together.”

Rik Van de Walle, rector of Ghent University: “Committing to lifelong learning is an absolute priority for our alliance. Learning does not stop when the diploma is obtained; in the rapidly technologically changing and evolving society, it is important that everyone continues to work on the renewal of their competencies. Universities have an important social role and it is precisely for this reason that we must continue to invest in this.”

Herman Van Goethem, rector of UAntwerp: “Lifelong learning is both a challenge and an opportunity for future-oriented higher education. With this alliance we are going to work on creating a policy framework for lifelong learning and together give shape to a central organisational structure around the theme. To reach as many alumni as possible, we are working with different fields of interest, such as health sciences and psychology, law, sciences, (bio-) engineering, arts and culture, and so on.”

About Nova Academy

For the scope of this project, lifelong learning is defined as the entirety of postgraduate and continuing education organised by the three universities outside the bachelor and master programmes, the master-after-master programmes and the doctoral programme. More specifically, it relates to postgraduate, permanent training, long- and short-term training, micro-credentials and lectures and study days.