KPU now a designated Age-Friendly University

Tue, Oct 31, 2023

Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) has joined a network of higher education institutions committed to age inclusivity with membership in the Age-Friendly University (AFU) Global Network.

Post-secondary institutions that belong to the network aim to promote positive and healthy aging and enhance the lives of older adults through education, research, curriculum development, health and wellness activities, arts and culture programs, and civic engagement opportunities.

“Never in the history of our society has it been so vital to invest in, understand and respond to the issues of healthy aging, while at the same time exploring and promoting the educational, cultural and economic benefits that flow from ensuring that the older members of the global community remain fully engaged as active and participatory members of society,” says Dr. Alan Davis, President and Vice-Chancellor at KPU.

Since its formation in 2012, the AFU network has grown to include more than 100 institutions of higher learning around the world. KPU is the third university in B.C. to join.

“As a public university committed to providing access to lifelong, meaningful education for all, KPU is proud to be a member of the AFU Global Network,” says Davis. “We look forward to working alongside our colleagues at member institutions and with community members to advance our own work as we embrace the principles of an age-friendly university.”

KPU has a long commitment to learners over the age of 50, demonstrated in its support of initiatives such as Third Age Learning at Kwantlen (TALK), which allows older adults to explore a diverse offering of programs and stay connected with others who are lifelong learners.

Many of the age-friendly principles of the AFU network are already in action at KPU, including supporting those who wish to pursue second careers. KPU recently hired a Recognition for Prior Learning Specialist, a new role that will accelerate the process of applying recognition of achievement by adult learners with career experience.

KPU is also recognizing the range of educational needs of older adults. One such example is work to expand graduate level programming at KPU, particularly programs that target adult learners. Widening access to online educational opportunities for older adults is also underway at KPU, ensuring a diversity of routes to participation. The university is also actively engaging with its retired community, made possible through partnership with the KPU Retirees Association (KPURA).

“The KPURA is a wonderful partner of the university, and we are appreciative of its support in KPU’s drive to become an Age-Friendly University,” says Randall Heidt, Vice-President of External Affairs at KPU. “Through collaboration with the KPURA, we can realize new educational opportunities for older adults. It’s more important than ever that we do so.”

Carol Barnett, chair of the KPURA board, agrees.

“The KPU Retirees Association is very pleased that KPU has joined the AFU network,” says Barnett. “The board of directors looks forward to supporting KPU in its commitment to older adults and their educational needs.”

Dr. Aaron Guest, who is chair of the Age-Friendly Global Network Secretariat at Arizona State University, the host institution of the network, says this is an exciting time for age-inclusivity in higher education.

Adopting the Age-Friendly University Principles, which are part of the broader age-friendly ecosystem, really indicates an institution's commitment to serving learners across all ages, with specific focuses on identifying new ways to engage lifelong learners. It focuses on ensuring that institutions of higher education know about, recognize, and are preparing for our globally aging world," says Guest.

"Through endorsing these principles, KPU joins an elite group of institutions who are committed to shaping a more age-inclusive global future.”