Each year, we report on the impact WEA courses make to our students.

Over 2,000 students from across the Association were surveyed for the 2016 impact report - ‘Improving Lives and Communities through Learning’- which looks at progress made against the charity’s four core areas: Employability; Health and Wellbeing; Community Engagement and Culture.

The report demonstrates that adult learning has an enormous impact on individuals and communities. Our work transforms outcomes for people in deprived communities; reduces social exclusion, increases social mobility and enables families to break the cycle of deprivation.

Key findings


  • Of the unemployed students 77%  felt more confident about finding a job in the future and 72% knew better what to do to get a job as a result of taking a course
  • Most commonly, students developed skills to prepare them for work, from learning skills (76%), communication (68%) and research (62%), closely followed by critical thinking (60 per cent) and creative skills (60%). 
  • The students that need most support benefit more - Students claiming means-tested benefits developed certain life skills at about 18 to 34 percentage points higher rate than their counterparts not on benefits. Those who attended basic skills courses reported greater development of literacy and language skills, IT and numeracy

Health and Wellbeing

  • 99% of students reported some health and wellbeing benefits following their adult learning course. The courses helped large majorities of students to make new friends (84%), increase self-confidence (77%) and take up new hobbies or other interests (66 per cent).
  • Almost half (47%) were motivated to improve their health and courses helped 46% to keep physically active.
  • These figures increased specifically for BAMER (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee) students 
  • 59% of students reported that the courses helped them to reduce stress 

Community Engagement

  • 39% of students took part in activities to improve their local community as a result of their course and 24% of students claimed the courses made them more likely to vote in next elections
  • 81% of students met people on courses that they would not normally mix with and half became more understanding of other cultures as a result of their courses.
  • 21% became involved in voluntary activities


  • 77% were encouraged to do at least one cultural activity (e.g. read, go to theatre, do arts and crafts etc.) more than before

Download the full report here or learn more about our approach to the four course themes.