Our current knowledge society does not only have an impact on labour market demands, but its citizens also have to cope with increasing social demands. A growing number of vulnerable adults lack basic competences and therefore risk social exclusion. In this respect, the european commission as well as the oecd agree that adult education can play a significant role in increasing social inclusion of vulnerable adults. However, to date, evidence of outcome of adult education programmes in terms of social inclusion is hardly available. The present study aims to unravel the complexity of the phenomenon of adult education to enhance participants’ social inclusion. Using a phenomenographic approach, we have explored different experiences of 32 vulnerable adults who have participated in adult education courses. The results show that an increase on an individual level (activation and internalisation) is more often perceived by the interviewees than an increase on the collective level of social inclusion (participation and connection). To ensure successful results and to improve quality of the lifelong learning process it seems that particularly the variables teacher support, life circumstances, and learning contents and activities are important elements to enhance the transfer aiming to increase social inclusion.