Once again there is news of an impending sad loss. Another University lifelong learning (adult education in plain English) department is scheduled to go. This one is close to my heart too. How careless we have been with the legacy of more than a century of activism to create a more open and inclusive higher education system. In the past few years it has been thrown away, sometimes with a note of regret, but mainly with puzzlement that something so seemingly peripheral to the life of a university actually exists and how such an adornment adds little to the productivity of the diploma factories of modern higher education.
Yet to me these are gems that should be treasured and not deposited in waste bins for disposal. They are places where the dream of equality, the joy of learning, and the escape from the deadening hand of narrow instrumentalism flourished. Many are now no more. It is a loss that some can't comprehend, let alone bother to mourn, a modern tragedy scarcely understood by managements but felt deeply by tutors, students and the communities that loved them. We will miss them when they are gone.