C. Civera, A. Ayuso, C. Crespo, R. Giménez

University of Valencia (SPAIN)
The incorporation of the Spanish university system into the European Space for Higher Education (ESHE) has led to a great number of changes in the educational system adapting to the new model. Simultaneously new working procedures and strategies have developed in higher educational institutions. In 2008 European universities decided to reinforce their role in long-term learning as a means of broadening the social dimension of Higher Education and of responding to the demands of a changing society. Particularly, with regard to Lifelong Learning, the university has become a committed protagonist in order to confront demographic change in European society, specifically in relation to the growth of the older population who wish to complete their higher education studies, the increase of immigrant integration and the need to respond to the educational requirements of people affected by the economic cycle.
Within this context, diversified educational activities have been introduced, from specific learning needs to cultural learning opportunities for older generations. In order to answer these demands, universities can act alone or in collaboration with other institutions, employment agencies and workers’ organisations. Lifelong learning requires that universities find new ways to meet the needs of current students with different motivations and interests. This generally implies a different approach to university learning, that is not limited to a specific period in life, but that also helps former students to return with focused programs with the aim of improving, updating and extending their learning process.
On these lines, the main aim of this paper is to present the renovation of the University of Valencia Programme for Mature Students (LA NAU GRAN), by offering a comparative study of the initial developments and current situation of these programmes in Spain. In order to observe the different adaptations that they will have to consider, the methodology of the study is based on the visits to, and proposals by, each university centre, on the evaluations carried out over recent years on the various academic itineraries and the participating lecturers, and on interviews with lecturers and students. The present research will expound the two major guidelines that University Programmes for Mature Students should follow in forthcoming years, taking into consideration the legislation currently proposed by Government and the demands of ESHE.