An Identity for Canadian University Education

  • Mark Selman Simon Fraser University


A distinct lack of clarity regarding the identity of university-based continuing education seems commonplace. Continuing educators have tended to focus on the institutional structure of continuing education, linking its identity to its degree of centralization, size of budget, and whether it houses its own faculty members. This paper suggests starting with the function of continuing education, regardless of how and by whom it is carried out. It then proceeds to identify some key values that might guide the practice of continuing education, arguing that in some cases, these values must be in tension with the impulses of the broader institution.Universities today, by necessity, are large bureaucratic institutions with little flexibility. This situation provides continuing education with the opportunity to address the gaps or tensions in the system by offering programs that are more responsive to participants' needs and that allow for a deeper exploration of the values of specific interest groups. UCE programs can also provide alternative entry points to those who want to further their education but have little access to mainstream university programs. Finally, continuing educators can help communities of interest connect with relevant university departments and thereby contribute to the university's mission.
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