Past Conferences

Annual Conference 2018 – Maynooth University

‘Transitions: Lifelong Learning and Higher Education’

The HELLIN conference in Maynooth University took place on  Friday the 7th December 2018 and asked some difficult questions of the whole landscape of the formal education system and posited an alternative vision through the lens of Lifelong Learning of how things might be better achieved below the surface of mere custom and acceptance of the un-reflected assumed norm.

Keynote speaker: Prof. John Holford, The University of Nottingham, Robert Peers Chair in Adult Education will present: Wider lives need wider education: lifelong education for 21st century citizens. Presentation is available here: Keynote Prof Holford-HELLIN-Dec2018

Thematic Panel/Facilitated Workshops:

1) Lifelong Learning / Further Education – Higher Education and CPD (Policy and Practice)
Rory O’Sullivan FE to HE Network; Wendy Fowles-Sweet Professional & Workforce Development Director, Environment & Technology, University of the West of England, Bristol; Deirdre Goggin Cork Institute of Technology

Presentations are available here: Session 1 R OSullivan HELLIN 2018Session 1 W Fowles Sweet HELLIN 18 and Session 1 D Goggin HELLIN 2018

2) Experiences of Diverse Learners (e.g. older learners, migrant learners)
Dr Amin Sharif Isaloo Dept. of Sociology UCC; Dr Sabina Brennan Trinity Brain Health and ADAPT, Trinity College Dublin;  Dr. Patricia Doyle, Recovery Academy of Ireland.

Presentations are available here: Session 2 S Brennan HELLIN 2018,  Session 2 ASharifiIsaloo HELLIN 2018 and Session 2 P Doyle HELLIN 2018

3) Advice, Guidance and Information. Dr Aoife Kerrigan (DACE MU), Inner City Renewal Group; Bernadette Walsh; Anthony Murray DKIT.

Presentations are available here:  Session 3 AKerrigan HELLIN 18Session 3 BWalsh HELLIN 2018 and Session 3 AMurray HELLIN 2018

4) Alternative Routes to Higher Education. Damian Butler UCC; Sarah Grimson – Trinity Access Programme; Willy Kitchen – University of Sheffield

Presentations are available here: Session 4 D Butler HELLIN 2018Session 4 W Kitchen HELLIN 18

Plenary Session: Lifelong Learning Reimagined – An Alternative Vision for Higher and Further Education

Dr. Fergal Finnegan Dept. of Adult and Community Education MU; Mary-Liz Trant Solas Executive Director for Skills Development; Maria Slowey DCU; Chair Peter Cassells.

Presentations are available here: Plenary MLTrant HELLIN 2018Plenary M Slowey HELLIN 2018

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Annual Conference 2017 – University of Limerick

Enabling Lifelong Learning

On Friday December 8 2017 the University of Limerick hosted the 4th Annual HELLIN Conference on Enabling Lifelong Learning. HELLIN was founded to promote and advance Lifelong Learning and Continuing & Professional Education for adults within Universities, Institutes of Technology and other relevant bodies in Ireland.

Dr Pat Phelan, Vice President Academic & Registrar UL, opened the conference and welcomed over 50 of the leading experts in higher and further education on campus. Chaired by Dr Ann Ledwith and Dr Lucy Hearne UL, keynote speakers discussed flexibility in education, the relevance of learning to people’s lives and employment progression leading from learning opportunities. Delegates had the opportunities to attend presentations and panel discussions on technology-enhanced learning, political, institutional and personal challenges to adult education, work-based learning, RPL and personal and professional development through lifelong learning. Professor Tom Collins, delivered the afternoon keynote noting the “disparity wealth distribution in Ireland with 50% of the population sharing 5% of all wealth greatly contributing to underachievement in education”. He also noted that “servicing debt is now a significant challenge in academic planning and institutional management with the locus of decision making in universities and institutions moving from the academics to the executive and the social project of education as a public good is weakened in this scenario”

The event concluded with feedback from two panel discussions on RPL and the relevance of lifelong learning to professional and personal development with one of the delegates commenting, “I really liked that I had the opportunity to chat with people who I wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to engage with. I work in Further Education and Training and studying for my PhD so the day was wonderful from a personal as well as from a work point of view”

Academic Papers- Abstracts

Social Welfare dependent mature students Insights into their lived experience as full-time higher education students

E-portfolios in an Irish Apprenticeship Training Programme

Enquiry Based Learning @L9 A Valuable Tool to Encourage Life Long Learning

Current developments around open education in Irish Higher Education


Online Induction- a safe place of arrival and departure

Skellig CRI – Meeting Real Challenges & Enabling Lifelong Learning in a Rural & Isolated Community


Annual Conference 2016 – Athlone Institute of Technology

‘Lifelong Learning Remembering, Reflecting and Re-imagining’

On Friday 9th December 2016, AIT played host to the HELLIN consortium and the 3rd National Higher Education Lifelong Learning Ireland Conference. The theme of the conference was ‘Lifelong Learning Remembering, Reflecting and Reimagining’ where the HEIs take note of the past, reflect on what they do in Lifelong Learning now, and begin the process of reimagining how as HE providers should begin to position into the future. The conference brought together delegates with a background in lifelong learning, adult learning and professional development in higher education to attend the daylong event.

Keynote speeches and papers from the conference included a paper delivered by Dr Nora Condon, Skills and Labour Market Research Unit, Dublin, Ireland entitled, Lifelong Learning Participation among Adults in Ireland, Mr Ronan Emmett, Head of Learning and Talent Acquisition, Boston Scientific, Cork who delivered a paper entitled Lifelong Learning – Achieving Return on Investment and Mr Brian Mulligan, Centre for Online Learning, Institute of Technology, Sligo who delivered a paper on Lifelong Learning is the Future and the Future of Lifelong Learning’.

In addition to the keynote presentations, over 16 papers from lifelong learning practitioners across Ireland covered themes such as Re-imagining Lifelong Learning, Life Long Learning Practice, Community Based Practice, Work Based Practice, Technological Learning Experiences and Lifelong Learning Policy.

Professor Ciarán Ó Catháin opened the conference on behalf of AIT and added, “AIT has a very proud heritage in lifelong learning and our programmes provide bridges for learners who wish to enter higher education. In AIT Lifelong Learning is an integral part of our programme offerings and the vision for Lifelong Learning in AIT is that it is distinguished by outstanding flexible learning channels, positive student experiences, community and enterprise impact and delivering a distinctive regional and national contribution. Businesses are becoming more specialised requiring higher level of skills and Lifelong Learning plays a key role in equipping people with the skills to address these needs.”

Dr Michael Tobin, Head of Lifelong Learning commented that the conference theme was very timely from an Irish perspective as we see a shift in the focus of Lifelong Learning to accommodating those in the workplace. In particular, he noted how AIT in recent years has developed partnerships with private organisations where through the sharing of the companies learning and talent needs, AIT were able to devise a flexible programme of learning, delivered through a blended learning model (online and formal class that ensured that the company has the relevant talent in place to meet their ever changing talent needs.

HELLIN is a consortium of all HE institutions in Ireland, Universities and Institutes of Technology and their aim is to promote and advance Lifelong Learning and Continuing and Professional Development for adults within Universities, Institutes of Technology and other relevant bodies throughout the island of Ireland. HELLIN are affiliated to the European University Continuing Education Network (EUCEN) and the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education (AAACE). Dr Michael Tobin, Head of Department of Lifelong Learning at the Athlone Institute of Technology had this past year been the President of HELLIN for 2016.

Eucen Conference 2016 – Dublin City University

‘Crossing borders through lifelong learning: enhancing quality and equity in higher education’

48th eucen Conference
Dublin, Wednesday 01 – Friday 03 June 2016
Crossing borders through lifelong learning: enhancing quality and equity in higher education

Dublin City University (DCU), the Higher Education Research Centre (HERC) and eucen are glad to present the 48th eucen Conference. The event will take place at Dublin City University, Ireland on 01-03 June 2016. This year’s theme is Crossing borders through lifelong learning: enhancing quality and equity in higher education. During the conference we will be celebrating eucen’s 25th anniversary. Join us to celebrate!

Participants are invited to contribute papers, workshops and posters, many of which will be published in conference proceedings.


Lifelong learning programmes provide bridges for adult students who wish to enter higher education, particularly those from under-represented groups. Education is fundamentally a process of crossing borders: from one level of knowledge to another; from one stage of education to another; between higher education, work and wider life experiences; and from one set of life chances to another. Additionally, in the current context of significant migration flows, the issue of supporting lifelong learning for those crossing physical borders also presents a particular challenge to which higher education needs to respond.

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Annual Conference 2015 NUI, Galway

Re-imagining Lifelong Learning

NUIG HELLIN Conference 2015
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Annual Conference 2014 – University College Cork

Irish National Network of EUCEN – ‘Lifelong Learning in Ireland: Mission, Vision and Practice’

On December 1st and 2nd 2014, ACE hosted a conference on “Lifelong Learning in Ireland: Mission, Vision and Practice”. The conference was co-hosted by the European Association for University Lifelong Learning(EUCEN) which is the largest European multidisciplinary Association in University Lifelong Learning. The conference brought together professionals, educators, policy-makers and researchers who work in adult education and was a resounding success in re-establishing the Irish Network of EUCEN. Keynote speeches were made by UCC’s VP for Teaching and Learning, Prof. John O’Halloran, Director of ACE Dr. Seamus O’Tuama and by Dr Rob Mark, Head of the Centre for Lifelong Learning at Strathclyde University. All of the Irish Universities were represented through various presentations. A Capstone Public Lecture by Dr. Tom Schuller considered “The Three Capitals of Adult Learners”. It was a wonderful occasion and success for all involved and we look forward to the next conference in NUI Galway in 2015. Full details of the conference programme are provided below in addition to a selection of speaker’s presentations below.

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