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The 2013 Annual Conference was held at the Calman Centre, University of Durham between 20 and 22 March with the theme: Who and what are universities for? Local Communities, Global competitiveness and the part-time student.

The Conference attracted 75 delegates, a very satisfactory number given the difficult times for university staff to find time and budgets. Especially pleasing was the number of papers and presentations we received – giving us the pleasant problem of fitting them into the timetable. Keynote speeches were presented by Professor John Holmwood and Professor Geoff Layer.  For the first time this year there was an international panel session in which contributors were asked to give a perspective on lifelong learning in their respective countries.  Speakers were: Dr Harvey King, Canada, Dean Tom Gibbons, USA and Professor Neal Yeh, China.  This session offered a very illuminating global view of lifelong learning.

As is now customary a Reception and Buffet was held on the evening prior to the Conference, which was generously sponsored by The University of Durham. Before the Conference Dinner there was the customary book launch, this year a very appropriate publication from the University of British Columbia (UBC): Transformations: A History of UBC Continuing Studies, by Scott McLean and Eric Damer.

The Dinner was held in the spectacular Medieval Great hall of Durham Castle. This was a truly excellent occasion, with excellent cuisine and a wonderfully collegial atmosphere, helped by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Christopher Higgins, who joined in enthusiastically and led an impromptu tour of the castle after the dinner. Our warm thanks to him. At the Dinner the UALL Awards, now in their fifth year, were presented in an excellent ceremony.  There was a great variety of entries; each was assessed on the criteria of “innovation and creativity, sustainability, impact and transferability”. The winner and three runners-up received their Awards to great acclaim.  The winner was Co-Create a highly creative programme from Aberystwyth University Lifelong Learning, involving students in both the creative making of clothing from recycled fabrics, and an introduction to small business start-ups.  

In conclusion the Conference proved a great success, and feedback from delegates indicate a high degree of approval. Much is owed to the excellent presentations, to the quality of discussion, and the informal networking which is such an important ingredient in any conference.

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