Miércoles 6 de Septiembre de 2006, Ip nº 169

School for Seniors
Por Ursula Sautter

At most universities, it's pretty easy to tell the freshmen from those attending their 30th reunion. But try it at Germany's just-opened European Center of University Studies for seniors (ezus) in Bielefeld. All of the first batch of 35 students who have enrolled for the initial, six-trimester general-studies program are older than 49; some are in their late 70s.

Attending long-distance classes and two days of on-site training a week, they dive into a wide variety of subjects from politics and economics to communication and health care science. This, hopes ezus managing director Paul Wolters, 70, will not only allow them to "actively shape their lives" but also help them influence a country whose population is graying so rapidly that, by 2020, almost 40% of the work force will be in their 50s or older.

But for many of the ezus freshmen, it's not all so high-minded. "I love learning — it is, and should be, a lot of fun," says Karl-Heinz Webel, 73, a retired teacher and electrical engineer. He thinks the €2,400 he will shell out for the program and the final certificate is well spent: "Studying keeps the aging mind and body healthy." At least as long as he stays away from the frat parties.

  27/08/2006. Time Magazine.