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I was delighted to hear universities minister David Willetts encourage older learners to enrol on university courses.

His comments about studying for the over 60s focused on the benefits of retraining and reskilling, and this emphasis is appropriate. Improving employability and productivity for this age group is essential, especially as the retirement age is due to rise to But words are not enough.

Older learners need more support to encourage them to enrol on university courses, and society's prejudices against older learners need to be tackled too. I have congratulated many older students on How do older adults learn best academic achievements at graduation ceremonies over the years.

The hard work they have shown to complete their courses and their courage to learn when many assume studying is only for younger people are an inspiration to us all. Their successes prove that the young do not have a monopoly on energy, intelligence and aspiration.

Studying for the over 60s is beneficial for many reasons, not only for improving skills needed in the modern workplace. Learning in your older years keeps your brain active, and discussing ideas and socialising is an important part of the university experience.

Studying is an effective way for the over 60s to tackle the spectre of isolation, loneliness and depression, which can accompany old age. Often the older the student, the more they appreciate the opportunity to study.

Those students who left school at a young age and missed out on university aged 18 are often more enthusiastic about education than their peers.

Moreover, it is not just the older students that benefit. Younger students frequently say that their learning is enriched by the contributions in the classroom from older students with considerable life, and work, experience.

Our older students at Birkbeck have remarkable stories to tell. Some of them are returning to education decades after having left school as teenagers.

Others continue with their newfound interests, and progress from undergraduate study to postgraduate level. Older learners provide an inspiration to the younger generations. One such example is Gerald Nathanson, who recently blogged for Guardian Students.

Growing up during the Second World War, How do older adults learn best education was severely How do older adults learn best as he was evacuated twice, and by the time he left school, aged 15, he had been to 11 different schools. After the war, he worked as a black cab driver for 42 years, yet was always conscious that he had not received a proper education. Aged 74, he enrolled onto Birkbeck's BA History degree, Naked celebrity boobs having hard fuck he graduated four years later in November The graduation ceremony was one of the proudest moments of his life.

At Birkbeck, we know more than most higher education institutions about teaching older learners. There are currently students over 60 enrolled on our courses. A recent survey at Birkbeck also revealed the reasons why older people are thinking about studying at an age when many are thinking about retirement. But our experiences have also taught us that prospective students, including How do older adults learn best students, are often confused by the student loan and tuition fee regime introduced by the Coalition government.

The eligibility criteria for student loans have not been communicated effectively by the higher education sector, and much of the task of explaining the new system has been left to individual institutions. The loan is written off after 30 years. So we urge the government, universities, the National Union of Studentsand other stakeholders in the higher education sector to:.

It's worth remembering that people over 60 are responsible for remarkable achievements across the fields of human endeavour. The late president of Birkbeck, the great historian professor Eric Hobsbawm, continued writing in his nineties, the UK's oldest prime minister was William Gladstone, aged 84, and Dame Judi Dench, aged 78, garners acclaim for her every film and theatre appearance.

If someone is over 60 they should be encouraged to embark on learning something new. It's never too late to learn. This content is brought to you by Guardian Professional. To get more articles like this direct to your inbox, become a member of the Higher Education Network.

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