Introducing Professor Matthew Weait
It is a privilege to have been appointed Director of the Department for Continuing Education, and to join you in being part of its extraordinary community.
The past couple of years have been profoundly challenging ones. Covid-19 has disrupted, and for some continues to disrupt, the way we work, the way we live, and the way we study. We face a future in which one of the only things about which we can be certain is the need to be creative and agile in the face of an increasingly complex environment.
The Department is well placed to adapt to such an environment. Its staff and students have responded positively and imaginatively to the difficulties of teaching and learning in a digitally mediated way. In overcoming what many of us thought of as obstacles, we have identified exciting and innovative ways in which we can be even more accessible and inclusive than we already are, while still ensuring the quality of provision and outstanding learning experience that people rightly expect from us.
In her most recent Oration, the Vice-Chancellor affirmed that “Access must become so deeply embedded in Oxford’s DNA that it is part of everything we do”. Our Department will play a unique and vital part in realising this ambition. By working to ensure that we have the most exciting and attractive courses and programmes, that we attract and retain the best teachers, researchers, and administrative staff, and that we maintain our physical and digital infrastructure so that these are fit for purpose we will enable non-traditional and adult learners to enjoy the best that Oxford has to offer for the years and decades to come.
Over the coming months I will be working with colleagues, students, and our Strategic Management Board to put in place a strategy that will build on the Department's success, ensure that we are making a positive and significant contribution to the delivery of the University's strategic plan, and further enhance our local, regional, national and international reputation for excellence in continuing education.
The University has a long tradition of supporting and promoting widening participation. It was back in 1878 that it delivered its first extension lectures. Progressive academics took their research and scholarship via the expanding railway network to towns and cities across the country and lectured in civic venues crowded with people who shared a passion for learning but for whom Oxford was otherwise inaccessible. The progressive vision of Benjamin Jowett and others has been kept alive since then by what is now the Department for Continuing Education, and it is my ambition that in times no less technologically revolutionary, we will sustain and further that vision.
I very much hope you will want to be a part of this exciting journey. You are always welcome to visit the Department, and – of course – to enrol on one of our courses.
With all best wishes,
Professor Matthew Weait BA(Hons), MA, MPhil, DPhil, FHEA, FAcSS, FRSPH
Published 28 April 2022