Professor Michael Osborne
- Professor - Chair of Adult & Lifelong Education (People, Place & Social Change)
Michael Osborne is Professor of Adult and Lifelong Learning at the University of Glasgow and Director of Research within the School of Education.
He is experienced in adult and continuing education, Vocational Education and Training (VET) and Higher Education research, development and evaluation. He is also Director of the Centre for Research and Development in Adult and Lifelong Learning (CR&DALL) within the College of Social Sciences, and Co-director of the PASCAL Observatory on Place Management, Social Capital and Lifelong Learning within the School of Education. CR&DALL is a constituent part of the Glasgow Centre for International Development, providing its Education component, using in particular its links with Africa in this role.
He holds a BSc in Chemistry with Mathematics (1975), a PhD in Organic Chemistry (1979) and a Cert Ed in Further Education (1984). He is a Visiting Professor at RMIT Melbourne, a Docent of the University of Tampere and is an External Member of the Artistotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece.
Professor Osborne's main interests in research and development are: widening participation to higher education, teaching and learning, and innovation in higher education, the VET/HE interface, international development, sustainable developed, community-engaged research, the role of Big Data in Education, and the development of learning cities and regions. He has worked in the field of widening participation for some 30 years, beginning with work developing and evaluating the first Adult Access courses to Higher Education in the former Inner London Education Authority.
Throughout his 17 years at the University Stirling, he was involved in a succession of externally-funded research awards in the fields of access to higher education, work-placed learning, environmental education, learning in SMEs and Learning Cities/Regions with funding from UK government departments and their agencies, the European Commission and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). This research included the development of Audit Tools for Stakeholders within Learning Regions (Indicators project under the Network of Learning Regions (R3L) programme) and projects that develop related Learning Audits for Regions (Lilara), and a Sustainable Network of Learning regions/cities (PENR3L); a major ESRC TLRP project on the Social and Organisation Mediation of University Learning (SOMUL). This work became consolidated within the Centre for Research in Lifelong Learning, which he established with Professor Jim Gallacher of Glasgow Caledonian University, and which he co-directed for a decade until 1997. CRLL developed an international reputation as of the world’s leading research centres in the field of lifelong learning. Also whilst at Stirling in 2004, he became European Director of the PASCAL Observatory for Place, Social Capital and Learning Regions, in collaboration with RMIT Melbourne. PASCAL emerged from the world of the OECD in learning regions and became a highly significant player in the field of place-based learning.
His most recent work has been directed towards the field of Learning Cities and Regions with a particular focus on the role of universities, Lifelong Learning for Work Transition in Mid-life, Big Data, Sustainable Development, and Teaching and Learning and Innovation in Higher Education.
He is linked internationally to specialist groups concerned with lifelong learning in Universitas 21, and to organisations such as UNESCO’s Institute for Lifelong Learning and its International Institute for Educational Planning, the Institute for International Cooperation of the German Adult Education Association (DVV) and the Asia Europe Meeting Forum for Lifelong Learning (ASEM LLL Hub within which he convenes a research cluster on Lifelong Learning Policy). Through the umbrella of the 'Big Tent' network he has established collaborative links with a number of significant players in the field of community-engaged research in universities. These organisations are the Global Alliance for Community-based Research, Asia Pacific Community University Engagement Network (APUCEN), Centro Bolivianos de Estudios Multidisciplinarios (CEBEM), Commonwealth University Extension and Engagement Network, Global University Network for Innovation (GUNI), Living Knowledge Network, Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), Service Learning Asia Network (SLAN) and the Talloires Network. Together these organisations have produced a series of international communiqués on community engagement in HE, which have been disseminated very widely in Higher Education.
He has been an investigator in a number of projects funded through the UKRI and by the European Commission around the themes of teaching and learning in HE, big data, sustainable development and lifelong learning. In the UK he has worked with government departments and with a number of agencies including the Higher Education Academy (now Advance HE) and National Association for Adult and Continuing Education (now the Learning and Work Institute). In Scotland he has worked with and for many bodies including Skills Development Scotland, the Scottish Qualifications Authority, the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament. Through the PASCAL Observatory and the Centre for Research and Development in Adult and Lifelong Learning, he works closely with many individuals, universities and regions around the world.
Thakuriah, P. (V.), Sila-Nowicka, K. , Hong, J. , Boididou, C., Osborne, M. , Lido, C. and McHugh, A. (2020) Integrated Multimedia City Data (iMCD): a composite survey and sensing approach to understanding urban living and mobility. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, 80, 101427. (doi: 10.1016/j.compenvurbsys.2019.101427)
Lido, C. , Mason, P. , Hong, J. , Gorash, N., Anejionu, O. C.D. and Osborne, M. (2020) Integrated multimedia city data: exploring learning engagement and greenspace in Glasgow. Built Environment, 46(4), pp. 574-598. (doi: 10.2148/benv.46.4.574)
Lido, C. , Reid, K. and Osborne, M. (2020) Blurring boundaries: exploring the potential for ‘Big Data’ to address inequalities in lifewide learning engagement. In: Slowey, M., Schuetze, H. G. and Zubrzycki, T. (eds.) Inequality, Innovation and Reform in Higher Education: Challenges of Migration and Ageing Populations. Series: Lifelong learning book series (25). Springer: Cham, pp. 265-283. ISBN 9783030282264 (doi:10.1007/978-3-030-28227-1_18)
Lido, C. , Reid, K. and Osborne, M. (2019) Lifewide learning in the city: novel big data approaches to exploring learning with large-scale surveys, GPS, and social media. Oxford Review of Education, 45(2), pp. 279-295. (doi: 10.1080/03054985.2018.1554531)
Borkowska, K. and Osborne, M. (2018) Locating the fourth helix: rethinking the role of civil society in developing smart learning cities. International Review of Education, 64(3), pp. 355-372. (doi: 10.1007/s11159-018-9723-0)
Osborne, M. , Laitinen, L. and Stenvall, J. (2016) Complex regional innovation networks and HEI engagement the case of Chicago. International Journal of Knowledge-Based Development, 7(2), (doi: 10.1504/IJKBD.2016.076462)
Houston, M. , Osborne, M. and Rimmer, R. (2015) Private schooling and entry to medicine: a case study using matched samples and causal mediation analysis. BMC Medical Education, 15, 136. (doi: 10.1186/s12909-015-0415-1)
Jordan, L., Longworth, N. and Osborne, M. (2014) The rise and fall and rise again of learning cities. In: Zarifis, G.K. and Gravani, M. (eds.) Challenging the ‘European Area of Lifelong Learning’: A Critical Response. Series: Lifelong learning book series (19). Springer: Dordrecht, pp. 273-284. ISBN 9789400772984 (doi:10.1007/978-94-007-7299-1)
Duke, C., Osborne, M. and Wilson, B. (2013) A New Imperative: Regions and Higher Education in Difficult Times. Series: Universities and lifelong learning. Manchester University Press: Manchester. ISBN 9780719088308
Professor Osborne's most substantial current research commitments are:
- as a co-I within the Urban Big Data Centre, an ESRC-funded research centre which helps address the social, economic and environmental challenges facing cities. Within this project he is undertaking an Urban Research Project on Educational Disadvantage and Place in collaboration with Muir Houston, Keith Kintrea, Catherine Lido and Phil Mason, and has completed a further project contributing from Education to a contextual multi-media database based on a household survey of 2000 people in Glasgow, GPS tracking, lifelogging and analysis of social media.
- as a co-I within the ESRC-funded Global Challenges Research Fund centre co-ordinated from the University of Glasgow, the Centre for Sustainable, Healthy, Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods, working with partners in Bangladesh, China, India, Philippines, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, where he leads the centre's capacity strengthening work.
He has recently been the PI of the project, Strengthening Urban Engagement of Universities in Asia and Africa (SUEUAA), funded by the British Academy under its Cities and Infrastructure programme, part of the Global Challenges Research Fund, working with partners in Iran, Iraq, the Philippines, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
He has also recently been the PI of a project funded within an ESRC Impact Acceleration Account, Widening Regional Engagement of HE and TVET, working with partners in Hong Kong, Italy and China.
In recent years he has also completed research for the European Commission funded projects on communities of practice in lifelong learning programmes (DISCUSS) and on labour efficiency in tertiary adult education at universities (LETAE), and and a Scottish Funding Council supported project, Strengthening the Regional Engagement Role of Universities in Africa and Asia, working with collaborators in Iran, Iraq, the Philippines, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
His previously funded research has included: Scottish Higher Education Funding Council/National Health Service (Scotland) funded projects concerned with selection of students in medicine and Veterinary Science (WHAP and WHAN); EC-funded projects in the area of lifelong learning concerned with the development of audit tools for stakeholders within Learning Regions (Indicators project under the Network of Learning Regions (R3L) programme) and projects that develop related learning audits (Lilara), a sustainable network of learning regions/cities (PENR3L), the quality of Grundtwig networks (GINCO), a KA4 project developing a reservoir of best practice in Learning Regions (Eurolocal), a Grundtwig project on Quality in Learning Regions (R3L+), a KA1 project concerned with tertiary lifelong learning in mid-life (THEMP) and a DG EAC funded project on Innovation in Higher Education; and a major ESRC TLRP project on the Social and Organisation Mediation of University Learning (SOMUL). He has also been a member of the team managing the EC funded Tempus Project on Lifelong Learning in Palestine. He has also recently completed the co-ordination of a study of universities and regional engagement (PURE) in 19 regions around the world, and is co-convenor of a collaborative group within the Universitas 21 group on Research Universities and their Regions (RUR).
He has also completed research on the decline in adult participation in HE for the Department for Education and Skills in the UK, and co-ordinated a similar project for the Scottish Executive and conducted studies of the effectiveness of widening access policy and practice for the Scottish Executive and for Universities UK, and studies on the Supply and Demand for FE in Scotland, and an international review of short cycle HE.
Professor Osborne supervises the following doctoral students:
- Preeti Dagar: Creating Sustainable Livelihood and Inclusive Learning Opportunities through Skills Development in an Urban Neighbourhood
- Jose Sergio Hernandez Mendoza: The Wider Effects of Adult Learning on Subjective Well-being
and Social Capital
- Colin Mack: Residential Segregation and Educational Outcomes
- Brittney Nathaniel: Non-Traditional Entry Routes to Higher Education: A Comparative Study of Inclusion in Access for Adults in New York State and Scotland
- Michael Sofianos: Entrepreneurial Education – Evaluation of current teaching methods, research on the attributes that motivate individuals to became entrepreneurs and investigation of the connections between these.
- *, Preeti
Creating Sustainable Livelihood and Inclusive Learning Opportunities through Skills Development in an Urban Neighbourhood
- Hernandez Mendoza, Jose Sergio
The wider effects of learning on Subjective Well-being and Social Capital (A comparative analysis of Learning Centers established by the National Institute for Adult Education in San Diego and Los Angeles, California)
- Nathaniel, Brittney
Non-Traditional Entry Routes to Higher Education: A Comparative Study of Inclusion in Access for Adults in New York State and Scotland
His recent doctoral students have been:
- Peter Barton: My early attempts at CPR: Reviewing how novice clinical practitioners make sense of their first experiences of undertaking Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
- Rodolfo Farlan: Intensive care medicine’s resident-as-teacher workshops' impact on resident’s perception of their teaching skills
- Archie Fulton: Participating in a drug and alcohol education at university as a trigger for transformative change
- Gail Goulet: The Transformative Learning of Assessment through Service Learning in HE
- Keneilwe Molosi: The Impact of the Remote Area Development Programme (RADP) on the Socio-Economic Development of the San: the case of the Gantsi and Maun Areas.
- Samir Halliru: Examining the Extent to which Skills Acquisition Training Develops Young Adults Lifelong Learning Attributes in Nigeria
- Chris McAllister: Learning to be lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered in Scotland: the power of older adults’ voices for reinterpreting adult and Lifelong Learning theory, research and practice
- Grace Poulter: Does constructed learner identity reflect the reality of older adult learners currently engaged in higher degree programmes?
- Mpoki Mwaikokesya: Undergraduate students’ Development of Lifelong Learning Attributes in Tanzania
- Douglas Sutherland: The transition of adult students to higher education: communities, practice and participation
Following his PhD, Professor Osborne embarked on a career in adult education, first in the Further Education section in London, working for the Inner London Education Authority at South Thames, City and East London and South London Colleges from 1979 to 1989. At City and East London College, he taught Mathematics to returning adult students, including within some of the UK’s very first Access to HE courses targeted at Afro-Caribbean and Bangladeshi students. Later at South London College, he developed some of the UK’s first Access programmes in Sciences (specifically Food Studies, and Health, Biology and the Environment (HBE)). The HBE course was the first Access programme to be accredited by the London Open College. He was also part of the team that developed the Postgraduate Diploma in Access Studies at South Bank Polytechnic, and also whilst there was involved in researching Access to Maths, Sciences and Technology programmes for the Department of Education and Science.
In 1989 he became a Lecturer in Educational Policy at the University of Stirling, rising to Senior Lecturer in 1995 and Professor of Lifelong Education in 1997. At Stirling he developed a range of Access programmes both delivered internally and in collaboration with a range of FE colleges in central Scotland. At its peak in the mid-1990s these programmes contributed some 13% of entry to the university. He was also involved in developing a comprehensive part-time degree programmes in collaboration with many departments of the university, which was the largest of its kind in Scotland outside the Open University. The work included the development of a degree pathway in Adult Education, the only undergraduate programme in this subject in the UK in the 1990s.
He also, with the late Professor Jim Gallacher of Glasgow Caledonian University, developed the world’s first online Masters in Lifelong Learning, and with the late Professor Glen Postle of the University of Southern Queensland, the world’s first Masters in Technology Enhanced Learning. Given his background in the 1980s as a FE lecturer, he continued his interest in this area through the development of programmes of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees that incorporated the Teacher Qualification (Further Education) (TQFE), the professional qualification for FE lecturers in Scotland, for which he was the inaugural Programme Director. The TQFE programme at Stirling developed as both a face-to-face and distance learning programme for lecturers in the Highlands and Islands in the early noughties, soon began the preferred option for the sector with some 50% of staff opting for this qualification over that of other providers.
At the University of Glasgow, he has taught on the following programmes:
BA in Community Development - Lifelong Learning and Social Change
MSc in Teaching Adults and MSc in Adult and Continuing Education - International Issues in Adult Education, Curriculum Development in Adult Education. He has also been course director of these programmes and has convened their Research dissertation components.
He has been teaching since 2016/17 within the new International Masters in Adult Education for Social Change funded through the Erasmus Mundus programme.
Professional activities & recognition
Grant committees & research advisory boards
- 2015: University of Gothenburg, Advisor to Research Centre Grants Committee
- 1995 - (ongoing): Journal of Adult and Continuing Education
- 2010 - (ongoing): Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education
- 2015 - (ongoing): Revista Educacion a Distancia
- 2019 - (ongoing): Journal of Developmental Education
Professional & learned societies
- 2012 - (ongoing): Member of Advisory Council and Research Network, Asia-Europe Meeting Lifelong Learning Hub
- 2008 - 2014: Member of Executive, British Association of International and Comparative Education
- 2008 - (ongoing): Member of Executive, Forum for the Advancement of Continuing Education
Selected international presentations
- 2012: UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning’s 60th anniversary seminar (Hamburg)
- 2013: Global HR Forum (Seoul)
- 2013: UNESCO Ist Global Network of Learning Cities conference (Beijing)
- 2014: Series of Keynotes for Australian Learning Communities Network (Frankston, Canberra and Townsville)
- 2014: Australian College of Educators (Brisbane)
- 2014: Finnish Association of Local Government Studies (Tampere)
- 2015: ASEM Forum on Lifelong Learning (Bali)
- 2015: Bulgarian Society for Comparative Education (Sofia)
- 2015: ASEM Forum on Lifelong Learning (Melbourne)
- 2017: Helsinki/Tampere Smart City Launch (Helsinki)
- 2017: Italian Learning Cities Network (Rome)
- 2017: 14th PASCAL conference (Pretoria)
- 2017: National Association of Enabling Educators of Australia (Gold Coast)
- 2018: Turkish Association of Continuing Education (Izmir)
- 2018: ASEM Forum on Lifelong Learning (Wurtzberg)
- 2018: Pecs Learning Cities conference (Pecs)
- 2018: Non-Formal Education - Meeting the Challenges of the 20th century (Sofia)
- 2019: Learning Cities Forum (Taipei)
- 2019: International Conference on Research in Education (Seoul)
Consulting and advice
He has advised the EC in relation to the development of the new integrated lifelong learning programme, and the German government in the development of higher continuing education. For the EC he has been a consultant in the following in recent years:
- Evaluation of the Jean Monnet Programme within the Interim Evaluation of the whole of the Lifelong Learning Programne
- International evaluation of MOOC models (FutureLearn, OpenHPI and Leuphana) and of international campuses (Nottingham’s Ningbo and Malaysia campuses) as part of an overview of Innovation in HE.
- Development of a pan-European framework for the competences of adult educators.
For UNESCO he has been a member of its Expert Group on the development of the International Platform for Learning Cities, which was launched in collaboration with the Chinese Ministry of Education in October 2013 in Beijing. The expert group advised on the Key Features of Learning Cities, which has been developed as an international benchmark. He was a keynote speaker at the event in Beijing. He is advisor to the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning's major project during 2020/21 concerning the contribution of universities to lifelong learning.
He has carried out a number of consultancies for agencies including the Council of Europe, Universities UK, the Higher Education Academy, and Learndirect Scotland . He has been an adviser and evaluator of programmes at a number of universities around the world, and a keynote speaker at many international events. Recently this has included the following:
- He was the only invited speaker from the UK at the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning’s 60th anniversary celebrations in Hamburg in 2012.
- During 2012 and 2013 he was an invited speaker at a number of major events in Asia. This has included at the Global HR Forum in Seoul in a session sponsored by the Korean National Institute for Lifelong Learning, the UNESCO International Conference on Learning Cities in Beijing and two preliminary international consultative meetings prior to its launch in Hangzhou (China) and Jeju (Korea), and the Lifelong Learning Planet Forum In Gyeonggi Do (Korea).
- He was a keynote at the City of Cork Learning Cities Festival in September 2013 alongside Irish Minister, Sean Sherlock.
- He was a plenary speaker at the Global Universities Network for Innovation, World Congress in Barcelona in June 2013
- He made a series of presentations at Consultations on Community Engagement and Social Responsibility in Higher Education in West Bengal, Delhi & Punjab in India at the invitation of the British Council, Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) and the UNESCO Chair on Community-based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education in March 2014.
- In April and May 2014 he made a number presentations in Australia as keynote speaker at Learning City events in Frankston, Canberra and Townsville at the invitation of the Australian Learning Communities Network.
- He was a keynote speaker at the biennial ASEM Lifelong Learning Hub conference in Bali in March 2015 and at the annual conference of the Bulgarian Comparative Education Society conference in Sofia in June 2015.
- He was a speaker in March 2016 at Asia-Europe Meeting Rectors conference in Prague on the student friendly curriculum.
- He organised the 13th PASCAL International conference in Glasgow in June 2016 on Learning Cities 2040.
- He was a keynote speaker at an ASEM Lifelong Learning Hub conference in Boracay, Philippines in May 2017 on lifelong learning and the sustainable development goals.
- He was a keynote speaker at the National Association for Enabling Educators of Australia conference in November 2017 on topic of lifelong learning education policies.
- He was a keynote speaker at the conference, E-Technologies for Lifelong Learning in Izmir, Turkey in January 2018
- He was a keynote speaker at the conference at the 5th International Conference on Adult Education in Chisinau, Moldova in April 2018
- He was a keynote speaker at the conference at the 15th PASCAL conference in Suwon, Republic of Korea, in September 2018
- He was a keynote speaker at the conference, Learning Cities and Culture Working Together, in Pecs, Hungary in September 2018
- He was a keynote speaker at the conference, Non-formal Education - Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century, in November 2018 in Sofia, Bulgaria
- He was a keynote speaker at the International Research in Education conference at Seoul National University, Republic of Korea in October 2019.
- He was a keynote speaker at the Virtual Urban Thinkers Campus - Imagining Gurugram as a Learning City, in Gurugram, India in October 2020
- He presented virtually the Lectio Magistralis on the occasion of the Celebration of the International Day of Education 2021 on January 25 2021 by the Learning City of Lucca.
He is a reviewer of major grant proposals for the ESRC. At an international level, he is a reviewer for the SSHRC (Canada), including of their Research Centre initiatives and most recently he has been a reviewer of R&D Units for the European Science Foundation.
Academic and professional body membership
In the early 1990s he began several service contributions to the discipline.
He was Secretary of the Universities Association for Continuing Education in Scotland for 4 years. He to serves as the university representative on the Universities Association for Lifelong Learning (UALL), its Scottish counterpart (SUALL) and the West of Scotland Wider Access Programme. He is a member of the Executive of the British Association of International and Comparative Education and the Forum for Access and Continuing Education.
He has served on the Advisory Group of the Open University in Scotland.
He is editor of the Journal of Adult and Continuing Education, and has been the editor of a recent issues of the European Journal of Education that focused on widening participation to education and the professional competences of adult education professionals, and of the International Review of Education on the theme of Learning Cities. He is a member of the editorial board of the Canadian Journal of Adult Education and Revista de Educación a Distancia.
He edits a series of books for Manchester University Press around the theme of higher education and lifelong learning to which many eminent scholars in the field have contributed, including Darlene Clover, Chris Duke, Budd Hall, Peter Mayo and Rajesh Tandon.