Universiteit Leiden

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Lifelong Learning and Development: University launches Academy for Professionals project

The Academy for Professionals project started in November. The project will focus on further developing existing and new educational programmes for professionals. ‘This is part of taking valorisation seriously.’

‘Actually, we already have a broad range of programmes for professionals at Leiden University,’ says Erwin Muller, dean of the Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs (FGGA) and one of the coordinators of the project. ‘The Law Faculty offers post-academic law courses and programmes, and at FGGA we have the Centre for Professional Learning (CPL). But what we are missing is one central platform where all these programmes are presented. The future Academy for Professionals will change that.’

‘The programme departments often know already what professionals need.’

Central professional teaching portal

Work is currently ongoing on this central platform, which is due to be launched in the spring of 2023. The idea is to bring together all the existing programmes within a single digital portal. In time, the portal will also offer new teaching modules. 'A liaison officer has been appointed at each faculty to make an inventory of the wishes and opportunities per faculty,' says project owner Lilian Visscher. ‘The programme departments often already have a very good understanding of what professionals need. The project team supports the programmes in translating these needs into new educational modules that are interdisciplinary in nature.'

As well as bringing the whole range of programmes together in the portal, targeting professionals is a key aim of the project. Market research and panel discussions will help the team gain insight into the needs of professionals: what knowledge, skills and explanations are important to them? These insights will be included in the further development of the project. Leiden University alumni are also an important target group. ‘Over the coming six months we’re going to organise different activities to present our range of programmes to alumni and other professionals .We’re thinking of such things as online open days, webinars and masterclasses,’ Visscher explains. 

Combining strengths and experiences

Joanne van der Leun, dean of the Faculty of Law and fellow coordinator of the project, expects that the project will combine different strengths and experiences. ‘The project shows that we have a lot of experience in the area of professional education, as well as room for new programmes, and that we can learn from one another. Teaching professionals is different from teaching students. This explains why professional education is dealt with in the General Teaching Qualification at the Law Faculty. Everyone can make use of this working method.’

‘We believe education for professionals is a core task for the University.’

Lifelong Learning and Development

The Academy for Professionals project is in line with the Dutch government’s Lifelong Learning and Development policy (in Dutch). The policy aims to encourage adults to continue to learn and work on their personal development, so that they can keep up to date with the rapid changes in the employment market. Muller: ‘We believe education for professionals is a core task for the University. It is a key part of taking valorisation seriously. And it has benefits for the University too. We ourselves can learn a lot from the professionals who follow our programmes. We can use that knowledge to improve our research and education for students.’ 

Text: Sabine Waasdorp

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