From Georgine Weertman - Groningen, Netherlands
1. Groningen (175.000 inhabitants) is in the province of Groningen, which is in the northern part of the country, about 2 hours by car from Amsterdam. The name of the organization is Senioren Academie HOVO (higher education for elderly people) in Groningen en Drenthe. Besides Groningen, we have a program in another, smaller town, to the south east of Groningen: Emmen (in the province of Drenthe). The organization is a not for profit foundation, but professionally run, no volunteers. The organization is not subsidized, but is allowed to make use of the university's classrooms.
2. We had in 2004 (Groningen + Emmen) 1583 enrolments in the courses (mostly ten-weeks), 2424 in lectures, 369 in lecture+excursions, 32 in travels, 48 in seminars with a group of German seniors from the university of Oldenburg in Germany, in research programs, 40 in study circles. How many different people were involved is hard to tell. Several people enrolled in more than one activity during the year.
3. We have three
programs per year: in the fall, in the winter/spring and in the summer.
The fall and winter programs offer about 30 to 35 courses + several
series of three to five lectures. Every term the program is completely
new. We offer no language courses, since there is a good community college
in town that offers those. The meetings are weekly, only the literature
courses are every other week, to give people enough time to read. The
subjects are very divers (archaeology, cultural history, economy, philosophy,
history, religions, musicology, psychology, sociology, writing, theatre,
theology, but only some courses in the field of the sciences. The level
is academic, since we are connected to institutions of higher education
(f.e. the university). We have several history courses, since people
seem to be particularly interested in history. In general it mainly
depends on the subject whether people choose a certain course.
4. I am the planner of the programs here and have not had time to take part in the courses myself, but incidentally. As I am going to retire in another half year, I am looking forward to be able to take part. Everyone is quite enthusiastic and it always pleases me when people tell me they are happy with the courses, where they not only get to hear interesting things, but also meet with other people of the same interests.
5. My personal message is that more and more elderly people find their way to learning and by learning widen their scope so they will understand and accept the complexity of this fast changing world .