Credit is for learning not for life 1

September 5, 2003

As founding director and trustee of the Learning from Experience Trust (LET), an independent education charity that introduced the theory and practice of assessment of prior and experiential learning (Apel) to UK higher education between 1986 and 1990, my response to last week's front-page story "QAA warning over degree shortcuts" is:

• In my opinion, the headline is wrong. Apel is no shortcut as anyone who has undertaken it will testify

• No university awards academic credit for life experience. Higher education's purpose is learning. Academic credit is awarded only for what has been learnt from experience. Tuition fees are paid. Fees are usually levied for Apel. Hence, "paying universities" conveys an inaccurate meaning

• Alan Smithers should know better. He has clearly forgotten a conversation we had in 1987 or 1988 when he visited the trust to ask about Apel

• The regulations for the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Registry, established within the Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA) in 1986, gave institutions explicit authority to award academic credit for Apel at undergraduate and graduate levels. I helped write them

• Geoffrey Alderman is nearer the mark

• The Quality Assurance Agency had no need to set up working parties on Apel. All it had to do was look up CNAA, LET and employment department publications from the 1980s dealing with standards, and gloss them if necessary

• If the QAA was bothered, why didn't it consult the trust?

• It is sad to see Apel smeared, no doubt unintentionally, when it has so much to offer individuals, employers, government, as well as higher and further education.

Norman Evans
Learning from Experience Trust at Goldsmiths College

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