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Learning never gets old

The University of Experience offers programs aimed at people aged over 55 who want to continue studying

The University of Experience is a successful project by the University of Barcelona. Its ten years of history are proof of this success. Since it was created, its training offer has never stopped growing, and these studies, aimed at people over 55, do not require previous studies to the applicants. At the moment, it offers fourteen programs from all knowledge fields, structured into one or two academic years, which allow the students to reach a deep and rigorous training level.

The level of satisfaction of the students is very high: a great percentage of students enrol in more than one program

The University of Experience was launched during the academic year 2010/2022 with only 169 students and four training programs. Ten years later, the number of enrolled students for the fourteen programs of the academic year 2010/2020 was higher than 1,500. The secret of the success is the high level of satisfaction of the students, with different profiles and motivations but the same interest in studying at the university just for the sake of learning, be it because the student could not access higher education when he or she was young, or because he or she wanted to expand his/her knowledge, or even because they wanted to study something from a knowledge field other than the one they work in. According to the surveys, a high percentage of students who finish a training course enrol in another program.

Two generations in the classroom

All programs, which last one or two academic years, provide a high-level training in different fields of knowledge and follow a mixed model in which, optional subjects are shared between senior students and bachelor’s degree students. The rector’s delegate for the University of Experience, David Viñas, says that “so far, the different programs had some differences, and we decided to unify them so that they all follow the same structure: four mandatory subjects and two optional subjects. Regarding the extension courses, they have two mandatory subjects and two optional subjects”. Since the spirit of the University of Experience is about promoting intergenerational relations and this can happen in optional subjects, “we also created optional subjects in those programs that did not feature them yet”, adds Viñas. This interaction between young and senior students in the classroom is well received and valued by both parts and by the teaching staff, who stress that the relationship is productive in every sense.

The vice-rector for Equal Opportunities and Social Action of the UB, Maite Vilalta, highlights that “the University of Experience, apart from willing to favour this intergenerational communication within the social and cultural context the University represents, aims to show that personal training cannot be regarded as something with an end while there is always an intellectual spark alive. Moreover, it offers a unique opportunity of social interaction with people who have the same interests and want to share knowledge and experiences”.

The trajectory of the University of experience, in dates.

A mixed offer in all fields of knowledge

People who want to enrol in one of the training programs can do so through the website of the University of Experience. There are fifty places for each course; if there are more than fifty registrations, the allocation will be done by draw.

Also, over its ten years of history, the University of Experience has added other complementary activities that allow the students to develop their social relationships. It has a theatre group and its own choir, among others, and it also offers Quigong workshops, and workshops on creative writing (narrative, poetry and plays) and strategical coaching.

Training programs:

It offers an integrated and cross-sectional view of the field of food, nutrition and gastronomy.

It studies the several elements that build the Universe up, ranging from the solar System to the dark matter and energy, through the stars, planets and galaxies.

It provides an introduction to the main disciplines (drawing, painting, sculpture, photography) in order to get started in the practice of contemporary arts.

This is a theoretical and practical introduction to the world of libraries and archives as well as the Internet and social networks.

It offers a view of the great variety of living beings that live in the planet and the result of millions of years of evolution that led to the great biodiversity of the moment.

It offers a basic training on prevention and promotion of healthful habits, always from a multidisciplinary perspective.

It offers an introduction to the field of creation, interpretation, and application of law and legal rules, and it focuses on the concept of state of law.

An approach to the world of social economics, circular economy, social policies, the welfare state, and the evolution and future of the pensions.

It covers the most relevant topics of our culture through the most representative philosophers. It works on the reading, analysis, comment and debate of texts and philosophical formulas.

It shares the bases of history of art (typology, themes, methodologies, techniques, etc.) to understand and contextualize a work of art from ancient times to contemporary times.

it provides the necessary basic information to understand the transformation of human society wit the multidisciplinary knowledge generated by history, archaeology, anthropology and geography.

It presents a panoramic view of topics related to different disciplines of the field of human sciences and establishes a dialogue between history, thinking, literature and arts.

It offers a basic training in the different areas that make the human language and theoretical and practical bases of literature, from both a universal and national perspective.

It shares the basic content of psychology in order to know how people think and act, as well as to know the main pathologies and disorders, their diagnostic and treatments.

However, the exceptional situation regarding health this year changed the dynamics of the University of Experience. These changes underwent a rethinking of a syllabus without optional courses and the online learning modality was adapted for first year courses. Nevertheless, the teaching quality during the academic year 2020/2021 is fully guaranteed.

University of Experience classroom.
University of Experience classroom.
David Viñas, rector’s deputy for the direction of the University of Experience.