Continuing education (CE) refers at the most general level to all education and learning in formal or informal settings that takes place after the conclusion of mandatory education (school-based), and following a significant amount of time out of formal education. CE thus covers a very broad range of activity, virtually all of it undertaken by part-time rather than full-time study.

Terminology is significant. In Britain, adult education and adult learning are longstanding terms, associated predominantly with nonvocational and leisure education, provided by agencies across a wide range of levels and types. Historically, much of this provision in Britain and elsewhere in Western Europe has been undertaken through or on behalf of religious organizations and, in some societies, also through political parties and industrial, trade union bodies. ...

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