20 years of EFOS 1990 - 2010

At the meeting in Bratislava in October 2010 EFOS celebrated its 20th anniversary. 

The first initiative back in 1990 was taken by a professor and a senior student of the university of Innsbruck who both thought that the senior students should engage themselves more intensely with the education for older people and that, for this purpose, they  should be brought together on a European level. The senior student, Leopold Auinger, created within two years a network of like-minded people in Belgium and Switzerland and together they established a European organisation. Since then the members (institutions, senior students and emeriti) meet every half year in various cities, exchange experiences and discuss common projects.  

EFOS considers the following as her major tasks: fostering of academic studies of older people together with younger students or at special academies/universities for older people; fostering of joint projects for older students throughout Europe and fostering and securing the access of older people to academic education also without formal qualifications. It was soon obvious that from country to country the education for older people differs a lot in form and content. That’s why it isn’t attempted to propagate a generally applicable model. The special requirements and possibilities in each country are taken into consideration. This results in a fascinating multitude of educational possibilities and we can continually learn from each other. 

During the last ten years EFOS has gone through a prosperous period:

  •     New members from Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Great Britain joined EFOS. With them the centre of gravity moved to North- and Middle-Europe. At the moment eight countries are represented in EFOS.
  •      Projects and actions were carried out to improve the European cooperation for the education of older people. The half yearly meetings also lead to bilateral encounters of senior students from various countries.
  •     Conferences and symposia were organised with presentations about the education of older people and its expected development.
  •     The website was modernised and brought up to date and the tradition of the EFOS News was revitalised after a pause of a few years, now in digital form. The EFOS News are published at least once an year and contain articles about the education for older people and about projects of EFOS.
  •     On the occasion of the 20th anniversary EFOS published a book about its history. It will soon be available on CD too.

With the EFOSEC project the various forms of education for older people was documented in a well arranged format. A survey among 841 senior students in 8 countries brought out the commonalities and differences in their motivation and wishes.

The VECU project offered opportunities to senior students at 8 universities in 6 countries to reflect on aspects of their national culture and to present them to the project partners. The result was a diverse series of articles that can be viewed on the VECU internet site.

After the completion of the VECU project EFOS, at its recent autumn meeting in Bratislava, started  with a thorough discussion about its future objectives and tasks. The objectives were newly formulated focussing on fostering various forms of education for older people, stimulating common projects and cooperating with other organisations. An action was started to get into contact with senior universities and senior students in countries that are not yet represented in EFOS. The continuation of the discussion and the clarification of our tasks will be the major issues at our next meetings. We are convinced that this will provide us with a solid basis for the 3rd decennium of our organisation.

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