IDEAL- Impact of Distance Education on Adult Learning


The IDEAL project seeks to examine how higher education institutions can and do contribute to adult learning by way of distance education.

The project aims to:

  • offer insights on the needs of adult learners to both policy makers and distance education providers;

  • strengthen the social dimension of higher education by better meeting the needs of adult learners;

  • increase the participation of adult learners in higher education through distance education.


  • 3 online publications on the distance education offer of European higher education institutions and the social profiles of adult learners enrolled in distance education (all in 2014);

  • 1 printed report: “Increasing participation levels of adult learners in higher education through distance education” (2015);

  • policy and capacity-building seminars to enhance the match between the distance education offer and the needs of adult learners (2015).


Distance education is a fast growing and wide-spread phenomenon. The IDEAL consortium believes distance education, offering flexible learning paths, can contribute significantly to making higher education more accessible to adults. As many adults are unable to participate in on-campus education, distance education offers flexible learning paths that greatly enhance accessibility to higher education. However, its impact on adult learning has not been systematically analysed yet.

The consortium partners are well equipped for the task, combining the vast network and expertise of both ICDE and the renowned UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, together with Studyportals, benefiting from the DistanceLearningportal where target groups of this project meet. To read more about the project, please visit


On this page you will find various documents pertaining to the IDEAL project, such as the IDEAL research methodology, the IDEAL glossary, papers and reports published and any other useful documents open for download.

Please note that the content of these documents does not reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Responsibility for the information and views expressed therein lies with the IDEAL project consortium.