I refer to your article, Universities embrace lifelong learning of 2 November 2008, in which your correspondent states that while an estimated 4% to 5 % of over-30s in the US are involved in lifelong learning of some kind, the European figure is less than 2%.

Statistics for lifelong learning are often partial and the territory is contestable and contested but we question this figure. Although there are always problems about what is included in lifelong learning participation figures, the OECD is a respectable source. This document quotes a figure of 9.7% average for 24-65 year olds in Europe in permanent and continuing education in 2003. The percentage may have fallen since then but it is unlikely to have been as much as that. More recent statistics from Eurostat suggest the European participation figure is around 10% so the figure in your story of 2% is probably wrong.

Alastair Thomson
Senior Policy Officer
National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (England and Wales)