Universities of the Third Age: Learning Opportunities in the Russian Federation
The chapter presents an overview of the history and present of lifelong learning for older persons in the Russian Federation. Lifelong learning opportunities in Russia appeared first as part of the Soviet system of education for all. In the 1990s, a non-profit association named ‘Knowledge’ started offering courses targeting specifically older people. The courses served primarily as a way to help them navigate the new political and economic environment of the country, socialise with same minded people, and find opportunities for leisure and hobbies which had become unaffordable and in many cases unavailable with the change of the regime. In the 2000s, other non-profit organisations and governmental social service centres started offering different educational opportunities for older persons. The content of the courses has been changing as new realities such as Internet and smartphone spread were challenging the older generation. Gradually, the political focus moved from providing learning classes that focused on the basic needs of older persons in later life to a wider curriculum that necessitated higher amounts of funding. More recently, new non-governmental organisations, universities, regional and municipal authorities have started offering University of the Third Age opportunities for older people. Currently, these opportunities are still mostly informal and vary significantly in scope, length, teaching methods, and content, but they may change towards professional development with the introduction of the new Strategy in the interests of older persons in 2015 and raise of the mandatory statutory pensionable age in 2018.