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Concepts and definitions

Adult education

Adult education refers to provision of instructed learning events for adults who usually act or have acted in working life after earlier terminated or interrupted education within the regular education system. It is characteristic that adult education is arranged and organised specifically with adults in mind. Differences to education within the regular education system can be such as the time and modes of instruction. In the Adult Education Survey, adult education is defined on the basis of the organisation providing education and training (educational institution, training organisation or other such training organiser).

Because participation in different types of educational institutions and training organisations is taken into account on the data collection form, the definition of adult education can be made from different points of view.

Adult education connected with the participant's work or occupation (vocational adult education)

A distinction was made, from the interviewee's viewpoint, between adult education connected with the participant's work or occupation and education pursued out of a general interest or with a hobby or pastime in mind, on the basis of the person's own statement of the purpose of participation.

Days of participation

The days on which the respondent had been participating in adult education and training (i.e. receiving instruction, etc.) during the preceding 12 months are counted as his/her days of participation. This need not necessarily be the total duration of the course or teaching. The figure does not include travel to and from the place where the course was held, nor any time spent at home on preparation or exercises. One day of participation or education is taken as lasting six hours.

Employer-sponsored training

In the Adult Education Survey all adult education partly or wholly paid for by the respondent's employer was considered to be employer-sponsored training regardless of its content. This may have been entirely sponsored by the employer, in the sense that all the respondent's expenses were paid and the event took place entirely within working hours.

All such adult education was considered partly sponsored by the employer where the employer had taken part in its costs and/or the training or its part had taken place within working hours, but in addition the respondent had had to spend some leisure time or holiday time on it, obtain leave of absence for study purposes and/or had to contribute towards the costs.

The questions on costs and use of time applied only to adult education connected with the respondent's work or occupation that had been provided by adult education organisations (or equivalent forms of adult training).

Entirely voluntary vocational adult education and training

This term is used to denote adult education and training connected with the respondent's work or occupation which takes place entirely outside working time and involves no financial contribution from either the person's employer or his/her trade union.

Lifelong Learning

Lifelong Learning (LLL) is defined as encompassing all learning activity undertaken throughout life, with the aim of improving knowledge, skills and competences, within a personal, civic, social and/or employment-related perspective.

Participation in education and training

The purpose of the Adult Education Survey was to study participation in all organised education and training and not only that specifically arranged for adults. Similarly, with the notion of life-long learning in mind, respondents were asked about what was the highest basic educational qualification they had obtained during their whole life and to what extent they had taken part in training arranged in connection with their work or occupation and in education and training courses abroad. Efforts were then made to determine more precisely the participation of the adult education and training during the reference period for twelve months preceding the interview.

Education was taken for the present purposes to comprise all studies that had lasted for at least six hours overall, including study periods or courses that had not been completed, if the respondent had taken part for at least that length of time. All activities specifically arranged and organised for the purpose of bringing about learning were regarded as education. It was also required that these activities should have had a pre-arranged curriculum or syllabus and that there should have been a specific provider or organiser responsible for the arrangements. Information sessions, advertising campaigns, sales drives and meetings were not regarded as forms of education.

Regular education system

The basic education system is regarded primarily as consisting of:

  • teaching provided for young people at upper secondary schools, vocational schools and colleges, polytechnics, and universities
  • teaching at folk high schools, music schools and colleges and sports colleges leading to a vocational qualification, and
  • postgraduate education at universities (researcher training).

Self-directed study

In the Adult Education Survey, self-directed study was taken as comprising personal study - learning of new knowledge and skills - occurring beyond the sphere of formal, organised education. Thus it may be fairly informal in character and may be pursued by the respondent either alone or in the company of colleagues or friends. The minimum duration of studies during the year is 20 hours. So-called occasional studying is not included.

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Participation in adult education [e-publication].
ISSN=2489-6926. Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 25.2.2024].
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