• News

    Our latest news.

  • News

    Our latest news.

Festival of Learning

Leeds City Region partners join forces to prioritise adult learning

Luminate Education Group has teamed up with partners across the Leeds City Region to host a series of free short courses for adults, as part of the national Festival of Learning.  

The group is working alongside local organisations and education providers to get adults in the region back into education, following the challenges of the pandemic. 

Now in its 29th year, the Festival of Learning (formerly Adult Learners’ Week) was launched to celebrate adult students and encourage others to participate in lifelong learning. 

Cllr Jonathan Pryor, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Economy, Culture and Education at Leeds City Council, said: “Over recent years, although Leeds has continued to prioritise adult education, we’ve seen it become less of a priority across the country. A lack of confidence amongst adult learners due to the pandemic, paired with historic funding cuts and reduced support, has resulted in the lowest adult participation in a decade. This partnership aims to celebrate the important role learning can play in adult lives and encourage them back into education.

“Skills are very high on the agenda for business recovery and growth post-pandemic. The partnership reflects that adult learning is available at all levels and stages of life; whether that’s starting from scratch with a new skill, brushing up and updating knowledge or taking it to an advanced level.”

As part of the Festival of Learning, adults will be encouraged to develop skills, enhance their employability and improve wellbeing through a range of taster sessions, residential days, virtual seminars and open days.

Yultan Mellor, Principal and Chief Executive at Northern College, added: “The festival is a superb opportunity for us to shine a spotlight on the different expressions of adult learning across the region, including community, college, home and residential settings. Our collaborative activities aim to showcase the benefits of adult education, including flexibility, financial support, personalised experiences and positive wellbeing outcomes.”

Festival of Learning

Launched in July, the Festival of Learning activities started with an Introduction to Digital Photography and Editing two-day residential course on 14 and 15 July at Northern College. Additional events included ‘An Introduction to Student Finance’ webinar from the Lifelong Learning Centre, University of Leeds on 14 July.

Ann-Marie Spry, Vice Principal of Adults at Luminate Education Group, commented: “Adult education is central to the rebuilding of our economy in a post-Covid environment. Therefore, we are working with key stakeholders in the area to demonstrate how lifelong learning can better equip learners to adapt to unexpected change and enhance their skills, in order to suit the ever-changing job market.

“This partnership brings together experts across the region to identify how we can work together to achieve shared objectives to raise the profile of this vital agenda. Drawing expertise and insight from our partners helps us to understand the current climate, allowing us to overcome barriers to learning and champion adult education.”

In the next academic year, the partnership will be encouraging learners to take part in ‘Have a Go’ activities, providing adults with the opportunity to try different courses and discover their passion. Rebuilding relationships with the community will also be a key focus for partnership activities, including taster sessions in local community centres.

The group, including Leeds City College, Keighley College, Harrogate College, White Rose Academies Trust and University Centre Leeds, is working with partners including West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Leeds City Council, Bradford Council, West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges, University of Leeds, The Prince’s Trust and Northern College, to deliver shared adult learning objectives.


Success for female students in STEM studies at University Centre Leeds

The success of female students has been noted in recent results in STEM degree courses at University Centre Leeds.

There were plenty of high performers, among all genders, graduating in the fields of Biomedical Sciences, Computing, Engineering, Cyber Security, and Computer Games this year.

Some of the highest STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) achievers were studying in digital fields such as cyber security, networks and applied computing.

The success of female students was particularly notable, with nearly two thirds (60 per cent) achieving a First Class Honours degree and 91 per cent successfully completing their studies.

It comes as women are under-represented in courses and employment in STEM disciplines, which in recent years have become more lucrative as there is a desire to nurture future technical and industry workers, scientists, inventors and engineers.

Dean of Higher Education at University Centre Leeds, Janet Faulkner, said: “We have had amazing results from all of our STEM degree students and it is particularly heartening to see how female students have been excelling in these courses.

“The push to achieve more equal representation in STEM subjects at all levels of education continues but results like these show how much progress is being made. We’re looking forward to welcoming more students, of all genders, in this year and sharing our expertise with them and supporting them as they embark on their chosen degrees.”


One student is Ellen Hudson-Barrett who progressed from level 3 at Technology Campus, through a Foundation Degree, to gain a First Class degree on the BSc (Hons) Cyber Security and Networks.

She had sales and finance jobs while she was studying and is now herself looking to go into teaching. She has enrolled on the PGCE course at University Centre Leeds and will be doing her placement back at UCL.

Ms Hudson-Barrett said: “I have been studying at UC Leeds and Leeds City College for the last five years. The support I have received from my tutors throughout has been excellent. They gave me the reassurance and confidence I needed to achieve the best of my ability.

“Having completed the final year of my degree during the pandemic, I was worried that this was going to have an enormous impact on my grade. However, my tutors continued with their guidance and support remotely which allowed me to focus and have the resources I needed to complete my coursework.

“I have really enjoyed my time with the college and the university centre and feel they have not only helped me with my academic achievements but have provided an environment where I could develop and grow my confidence in my professional and personal life.

“I have been offered some amazing opportunities to fulfil my career goals and aspirations and am now studying for my PGCE through the college, with the hope of becoming a Higher and Further Education lecturer in the coming years.”

There is a national shortage of STEM skills which the government has recognised – and it acknowledges that a continuing under-representation of women is exacerbating the problem.

But it also notes that, as this year’s results at University Centre Leeds demonstrate, there is cause for optimism.

Between 2011 and 2020, the number of women accepted onto full-time STEM undergraduate courses increased by 50.1 per cent in the UK. Within the same period, the proportion of women entering full-time undergraduate courses taking STEM subjects increased from 33.6 per cent to 41.4 per cent.”

Website designed and built by Web Phizix