About eucen

eucen in a nutshell

eucen is the largest multidisciplinary European association of university lifelong learning (ULLL) and university continuing education, with over 32 years of experience and wide expertise in the field.

Our large network gives us a reach of around 800 different institutions in Europe and around 300 in America. In addition, through our alliances with stakeholders we are connected to over 3,000 different organisations and institutions.

Based officially in Belgium since 1991, the eucen Secretariat was established in Barcelona in 2000. 
eucen‘s main aims are to contribute to the development and improvement of ULLL in universities and to promote and advance ULLL at the European policy level. We do so through activities addressed at Higher Education Institutions and through direct lobbying in Brussels. eucen initiates and leads dialogues at EU level, produces and exchanges knowledge and contributes to the European Policy Development of EU policies and practices related to ULLL. Our events, EU-funded projects and publications help us to carry out our objectives.

Official Documents

GA voting Mar23

The current eucen Statutes were presented to members during the General Assembly in Budapest (HU), 10 June 2022, and approved unanimously.

The current version of the eucen Internal Regulations were presented to members during the General Assembly in Utrecht (NL), in June 2023, and approved unanimously.

eucen’s Statutes are officially registered in Belgium, in the Moniteur belge

Members of eucen are ruled by the Statutes and Internal Regulations of the Association.

The Internal Regulations are written rules, procedures and internal requirements that have been defined to establish specific guidelines for the daily operation of eucen.

The Statues are the founding act of eucen as a formal association. They describe the purpose of eucen and its operating rules, and include:

  • The official name, subject matter, duration and registered office
  • Conditions for admission and removal of members
  • Rules of organisation, operation and determination of the powers assigned to the members responsible for administering it
  • Conditions for amending the statutes and conditions for dissolving the association

Our vision

  • Enable members to effectively serve the people of Europe, particularly in their own regions, through the provision of high quality lifelong learning
  • Influence the development of university lifelong learning policy throughout Europe
  • Promote a European model of lifelong learning based on democracy, equal rights and social justice
  • Contribute to lifelong learning policies at the national and European levels that take into account economic and social needs
  • Promote interaction between stakeholders within and beyond the eucen network in order to identify and mobilise resources
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Our mission

  • Enable the exchange of experience, information and best practices between members of the network on current lifelong learning regulations and policies and their implementation
  • Provide contacts for members with lifelong learning policy makers and practitioners, as well as with the relevant European bodies 
  • Seek to harmonise levels of quality for ULLL among members and to maintain standards for effective monitoring
  • Contribute to the development of an effective university credit transfer system that could be put into practice across the network
  • Seek to influence European policy on ULLL


  • Assist ULLL policy makers in selecting the most appropriate and effective policies for their own institutions
  • Provide a forum for the exchange of ideas relating to ULLL
  • Provide accurate and up-to-date information to members on ULLL in European countries
  • Help members to strengthen their contacts with employers and the professions in European countries
  • Encourage the exchange of information between universities and employers to identify their changing ULLL needs
  • Provide academic and administrative support to members to expand their ULLL provision
  • Support members wishing to develop European ULLL research
  • Provide opportunities for ULLL staff development through staff exchange
  • Seek opportunities for student exchange to encourage the development of cross-regional and transnational ULLL
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eucen's history in milestones

In May 1991 a group of 15 European universities meets in Bristol (UK) and decides to explore prospects for international collaboration in university continuing education (UCE).
During the meeting, representatives of universities from 10 different countries report on the state of continuing education in their national contexts, and based on this, the group identifies Europe-wide objectives for UCE. To ensure their implementation, which the participants consider crucial to the future of Higher Education, they decide to create eucenthe European universities continuing education network.

In October 1992, eucen publishes its ‘Response to the European Commission on the Memorandum on Higher Education in the European Community’. With this publication, eucen introduces itself as the association representing transversal University Continuing Education (UCE) across Europe. 

eucen welcomes the recognition of UCE’s growing importance and endorses in particular the identification of critical areas such as participation and access, partnership, and open and distance learning. eucen advocates for the need of continuing vocational education (CVE), social and cultural continuing education, and a European dimension, with shared identity, through social mobility and stability. eucen recommends policy changes in the area of UCE at the European, national, and institutional levels.

eucen registers its first set of Statutes at the Moniteur belge in February and officially becomes a non-for-profit association with a legal seat in Belgium. In May, eucen holds its first General Assembly of members in Barcelona (ES).
eucen supports members in one of the first projects on Validation of Prior Learning funded through the Leonardo programme. This work forms the basis of an expertise among members which continues to be developed and shared up to the present day

eucen develops the themes and priorities for UCE in a Thematic Network with working groups on topics such as access, validation of prior learning, and networking.

eucen publishes in January 2000 its “Ruffio Report” for the European Commission DG EAC, with the title “Changing the university: the supporting role of the Erasmus Thematic Networks“. Over the course of three years, eucen analysed the experience of the 43 projects funded in this programme, identifying the strengths, weaknesses, and activities.

eucen creates a professional office and Secretariat in Barcelona with support from the Universitat de Barcelona, the Universitat Pompeu Fabra and the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona.
eucen participates in the EC Higher Education Expert Forum (F2000) to consider how to respond to the rapid changes in European society.

eucen publishes its “Response to Challenges for European Universities” and recommends: developing the teachers’ roles and mission, new learning and legitimation processes, integrating disciplines and thematic content, and innovating organisational and pedagogic frameworks.

eucen constructs a European architecture for the Validation of Prior Learning (VPL). Funded by the Joint Action Programme of the EC (Transfine and Refine projects), eucen leads a multi-national and multi-sectoral team to:

  • collect, analyse and build on VPL work across formal, informal and non-formal education in Europe;

  • investigate the feasibility of an integrated set of procedures for a system of transfer and accumulation of qualifications;

  • create, develop and propose the principles, methods and tools for such a system;

  • construct a specification for pilot projects to test the proposals.

eucen collaborates with a wide range of partners in a peer learning and development process, tests and evaluates the models proposed with great success and goes on to impact developments in European policy arenas and networks.

eucen publishes “A policy statement to promote University Lifelong Learning (ULLL) in the Bologna Process”. Triggered by an absence of ULLL in the reform of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) despite the flexibility and access that ULLL could offer through BMD (Bachelors-Masters-Doctorate) structure, eucen proposes that universities could and should become learner-oriented with LLL part of the central mission of institutions. A range of actions and collaborations at all levels are identified to make this shift.

As part of the BeFlex project policy recommendations, eucen adopts a definition of University Lifelong Learning that has stood the test of time: 
ULLL is the provision by higher education institutions of learning opportunities, services and research for: the personal and professional development of a wide range of individuals – lifelong and lifewide; and the social, cultural and economic development of communities and the region. It is at university level and research-based; it focuses primarily on the needs of the learners; and it is often developed and/or provided in collaboration with stakeholders and external actors.

As part of the BeFlex project work, eucen also identifies 13 key recommendations for action to make HEIs genuine University Lifelong Learning institutions. These recommendations are grouped in 5 areas:

  1. LLL policy in universities
  2. Diversity – definition and indicators
  3. Flexibility in courses
  4. Flexibility in services for learners
  5. Separation-integration

eucen cooperates with other European networks in the elaboration of the ‘European Universities’ Charter on Lifelong Learning’, published by EUA, setting out the commitments of HEIs and governments to ensure quality in LLL.

In its  BeFlex Plus report, eucen pinpoints 10 recommendations to turn HEIs into University Lifelong Learning institutions:

  1. Universities should intensify reflection at all levels about what it means to become a LLL organisation in practice
  2. Universities should develop intensive and comprehensive scientific research in the filed of LLL
  3. Universities should exploit the possibility to provide flexible learning paths and continuous guidance
  4. Universities should build a learners-centered educational model
  5. Universities should include curriculum partnership as part of their quality assurance arrangements
  6. Universities should develop VPL opportunities
  7. Universities should understand better their partnerships and collaborations in order to ensure really useful synergies
  8. Universities should communicate more effectively their structures, reforms, services, policies, etc
  9. Universities should develop a networking university concept where stakeholders are included and involved
  10. Universities should develop platforms, joint staff development and funding streams to support networking

You can read and download the full BeFlex Plus report.

Building on previous work, eucen designs tools to help universities elaborate a vision, mission and action plan to become LLL Universities (ALLUME project). Three tools are developed for:

  • self-analysis of the process,
  • self-analysis of the content, and
  • benchmarking against the Charter on LLL.

eucen completes two successive projects on Validation of Prior Learning: OBSERVAL and OBSERVAL-Net with a network and online community of Validation Professionals in LinkedIn, promoting and supporting networking in eight European countries, with a collection of over 200 pieces of literature on VPL, an advocacy pack to promote VPL, and three fields of development work: bottom-up approaches, validation professionals, and work-based competences. Other outputs of the project are a manifesto and an eBook “The VNIL Report“. 

Some of these results were sustained and adapted into eucen‘s work on validation of competences of migrants and refugees in the VINCE project in 2019.

eucen believes that ULLL should be underpinned by research like all higher level learning, but dialogue between researchers and practitioners is not always straightforward. Addressing this challenge, the Dialogue project promoted interaction in four thematic working groups: learning and guidance, access and progression, new media, and quality. As part of the project, eucen produced the report “Bridges between Research and Practice in University Lifelong Learning – Policy Report and Recommendations”.

eucen understands how ULLL can contribute to the social dimension of universities and builds tools to help them self-assess their commitment to the social dimension, identify strategies to increase attainment, and embed ULLL policy and practice within a strategy of wider social interaction. The COMMIT project developed twelve policy reminders covering three areas:

  1. University Lifelong Learning as part of society and university
  2. Steering HEIs towards LLL and social engagement
  3. Essence and quality of LLL supporting social dimension

eucen focusses on cultural diversity and inclusion in the HE4u2 project “Integrating cultural diversity in higher education”, which started in 2015 at the height of the migration ‘crisis’. It gave eucen the opportunity to observe how universities in Europe were addressing diversity and inclusion, to explore the weak points in our HE system, and the ways to improve it. The work produced a guide, a generic course for HE staff to understand and respond to diversity, and a set of policy recommendations.

eucen builds on previous work on social inclusion and validation of prior learning to focus on the needs of migrants and refugees. With partners in the VINCE project and NGOs working with newcomers eucen designs a set of tools based on experience in the field: guidelines for HE staff, 33 updated country profiles in VPL, a generic training course for Validation professionals, and a set of policy recommendations including eight key points for policy makers, HEIs and/or newcomers themselves. The project results have become a reference point for Europe; Ireland, for example has taken up the tools to develop their specific materials.

In addition to its strong role in inclusive learning, eucen also becomes more active in promoting professional learning, and supports up-skilling and re-skilling training as a crucial component of ULLL. Working in seven country teams, each with a university, an enterprise and an association, the ApprEnt project produced very important results: a definition of HE-Apprenticeship, an Advocacy Pack with five flash-cards (one for each target audience, i.e. potential apprentices, mentors, HEIs, enterprises and policy makers), a guideline for Agreement Models, a generic training course for mentors and supervisors, and a set of policy recommendations aimed at the EU, national and institutional policy makers, and business management. The training course for mentors and supervisors was, in 2019, the only such training course available in Europe.

eucen’s focus on diversity and inclusion moves to address three main areas of inequity in HE – migrant background students, women in leadership, and low socio-economic income students. The SMILE project has developed the European Diversity Audit Model for universities to self-assess in the area; created four CPD courses for HE staff; policy recommendations; and an action plan with principles targeting three areas of action: policy makers, HEI senior management and civil society.

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FdV imgUniversity Lifelong Learning is a vector for promoting more equalities in European education and training systems, and for defending the fundamental values of democracies - promoting intercultural dialogue, social engagement and citizenship, and fighting xenophobia and intolerance all over Europe. It offers a great opportunity to develop collaborative actions to raise participation in learning.

Professor Emeritus Françoise de Viron

Former President of eucen