Patricia Davies

Patricia Davies

Hall of Fame Class of 2018

In the early 1990s, Patricia Davies became an early pioneer of the European University Continuing Education Network (EUCEN), then a small organization of professionals working to promote adult, continuing, and lifelong learning in universities during a time when most universities in Europe did not see this work as part of their mission. Her contributions to the network and to the field of adult and continuing higher education have been significant.

When EUCEN grew to the point it became necessary to create a professional association in 2000, Davies was appointed executive secretary. With her experience in private sector companies and her academic record, and with start-up support from the universities in Barcelona, she built a team of committed and enthusiastic staff, a project portfolio of around €3 million annually, and an infrastructure that would enable the association to develop into the future. During her stewardship, theEUCEN became a reference point both for the European Commission and Member States, with significant input in policy debates, work program and project planning and evaluation, and for professionals working in the field across Europe.

Davies has dedicated her career to promoting access to and successful participation in higher education for disadvantaged groups. Early on, she participated in the design of curricula, the creation of partnerships between college providers and university receivers of learners, teaching, and the organization and dissemination of events. She undertook extensive fieldwork to evaluate national pilots and developments and was on the editorial board and subsequently editor of the first Access Journal for policy makers, managers, and practitioners. She developed a national and international research agenda, published the results in countless academic and professional journals, and was on the board of one of the first “Open College Networks” in the UK. This commitment then encompassed the recognition of prior learning and collaboration across Europe to promote quality RPL in practice and policy at all levels, so that it is now strongly promoted by the European Commission, widely understood, and increasingly adopted in universities.

Davies’ leadership has resulted in the development of effective policies and best practices in adult and continuing education at all levels in higher education. She has led numerous international and European projects, some with immediate impact on a particular aspect of practice and some with a cumulative impact over time. She has been dedicated to a very high standard of work and contributed to the development of rigorous quality assurance arrangements in the field. All of her work has been underpinned by a strong commitment to equality of opportunity and outcomes for adults in higher education. She has a strong reputation in Europe as a voice for learners and for professionals in policy development at institutional, regional, and national levels. Together, her activities represent an impressive contribution that has enabled learners who were previously excluded to aspire to and successfully achieve in their educational careers.