Building capacity of older people in research and education

The 'Centre for the Older Person's Agenda' was established jointly by Queen Margaret University and the Royal Bank of Scotland. It aims to enhance the quality of life for older people in Scotland through research, developing practice and education.

Providing educational opportunities for older people

One of the centre's activities is to provide educational opportunities for older people in Scotland. This has been prioritised by the centre, as ‘older people as a group are often not considered in the life-long learning agenda’, and many higher education courses do not specifically reach out to this group.

As a result, the centre developed a series of courses designed for and with older people. These include:

  • Bolder and Wiser – a course aimed at listening to older people's agendas, and enabling them to have their voices heard. A central aim was to develop skills to help people to carry out their own research into the needs of older people, and to open up opportunities to become involved in future research projects.

  • Education for Participation – this course aims to help people aged 50 and over to become involved in helping to influence policy and services for older people. It used a range of innovative methods to help people gain the confidence to speak out in a range of different situations – including surveys, formal meetings, and understanding published documents.


An evaluation of the 'Education for Participation' course found that the course had been highly successful. It had a number of important impacts, including:

  • increased confidence in expressing opinions – ‘I learnt that I was not the only one who feels 'shy' about putting my points across.’
  • increased awareness of social and political issues – ‘It awakened an interest in social issues I hadn't recognised before.’
  • enthusiasm to go on to do something else – ‘It has fired my enthusiasm for research with older people.’

Read the final evaluation of the Education for Participation project, published by Queen Margaret University College, Edinbugh.

Word file: Evaluation of the Education for Participation: the voices of older people course (859 KB)