Flexible Learning Communities Supporting Lifelong Learning Across Borders

Rosette S’Jegers, Jo AngouriTomaž Deželan

In November 2021, six founding partners of EUTOPIA Alliance were awarded in Erasmus+ (KA220-HED - Cooperation partnerships in higher education) for the project “Flexible LEarning Communities Supporting Lifelong Learning Across Borders’” (FESCLAB) submitted to National Agency for European Community Programmes and International Mobility Programmes in Slovenia. 

Background and needs addressed

The demographics of Higher Education (HE) are changing. University graduates increasingly desire to expand their competencies as they are confronted with multiple transformations in a globalised society. 

The EUTOPIA universities introducing this key action offer better chances for answering to the Lifelong Learning (LLL) ambitions of the European Commission by developing flexible mechanisms that recognise short term intensive learning efforts in a transnational context. FLECSLAB suggests a roadmap for a more inclusive approach in meaningful international learning processes that enable academia to reach a wide range of lifelong learners from various backgrounds and across disciplines. The major inspiration for launching this proposal derives from acknowledging the limitations of current HE models to accommodate LLL students. FLECSLAB thereby expands the work of learning communities towards international connectedness of best practices in active learning.


First, the project delivers a framework and well-tested implementation tool to explore the potential of a European university alliance for creating a substantial LLL offer based on existing components of their curricula. Building on the development of the Connected Learning Communities in the EUTOPIA alliance, FLECSLAB will create a specialised instrument for all HE institutions going beyond the demand of degree-seeking students and opening up to non-modal learners looking for international learning experiences. This tool will include guidelines and training modules to support academic staff in addressing adult learners. 

Second, through piloting and real hands-on experience, the project aims at introducing a business model that will allow European universities to maintain their efforts for a high-quality offer in LLL. Due to its focus on active learning and innovative transdisciplinary topics, FLECSLAB will actively involve stakeholders operating in the social context of the learning communities and interested in cooperating with HEI for responding to the LLL needs of citizens and professionals.

The building blocks of FLECSLAB are Connected Learning Communities linking best practices in open and active learning across EUTOPIA. Academics revisit traditional learning formats and organise short term learning experiences that the students can take as part of their curriculum journey towards or alongside a degree. Despite its successful implementation and the promising results for curriculum development in a European University alliance, EUTOPIA is not designed to accommodate lifelong learners. That is the gap that FLECSLAB addresses. Building on the developments in a large sample of the Connected Learning Communities, FLECSLAB provides a unique opportunity to introduce a roadmap based on tested designs that the HE sector can adopt and that will meet the needs of non-traditional students identified in the ecosystems of the learning communities. FLECSLAB will be the first project, to the best of our knowledge, to provide the HE sectors with such an intensive set of cases and to extrapolate the tools and business models for all transnational alliances willing to open up their curriculum offering towards a range of non-traditional learners. 

Planned outcomes

FLECSLAB will document the business cases for a broad sample of LLL scenarios. A final and critical stage is about translating the FLECSLAB experience to policy guidelines for academics, industry and public sector partners. The project team will produce a series of resources that help HE practitioners and policymakers in developing LLL pedagogies (the Lifelong Learning Toolbox) and sustainable offerings (the Lifelong Learning Business Model).

 Core Coordinating Team:

Contactflecslab@uni-lj.si; internacionalizacija@uni-lj.si