QUALITY IN THE TRANSITION BACK TO WORK, IN ENSURING THE CURRENCY OF QUALIFICATIONS, IN AFTERCARE AND IN FOLLOW-UP
Awards and the transfer of knowledge to practice. Towards the end of the learning experience, although there is of course no real end to lifelong learning, the question of the award is a live issue in continuing education. Rather than a mere certificate of completion, the award of a university diploma can be a very real symbol of success and recognition in an insecure working life. For this reason it is up to the university and its continuing education arm to enhance the image and secure the foundations of its continuing education programmes, so as to strengthen links between higher education and the workplace and the company. The currency -the "quality"- of a diploma depends not only on its academic rigour, but on its usefulness to and its recognition by the outside world, especially in the case of adults. The choice of assessment methods needs to take this into account. Case studies, project management, and the recruitment of professional experts as co-evaluators are all innovations that aim for the same objective -that university continuing education should promote the transfer of theoretical knowledge into the workplace. The responsibility for this should not be left to the individual, it is a real challenge both to the institution and to all involved.
Long-term follow-up. If lifelong learning and continuing education are taken seriously, the achievement of an award is not, as in the traditional model, the end of the learning process. As a reflective practitioner who also considers the future, the mature student will need to keep in touch with experts, for professional reasons and for personal development, as well as with fellow students, who can offer a rich source of shared experience and insight as well as critical analysis. The university must develop a more and more flexible yet stable structure to accommodate this and the continuing education department should play a major role in guaranteeing an effective quality framework.