Credit is for learning not for life 2

September 5, 2003

Alan Smithers contradicts himself. If higher education is supposed "to add to your general life experience", how can he also describe being excused a chunk of your course in lieu of life experience as "odd"?

Apel students are not "excused" elements of study. Credit is awarded only if they can demonstrate that their learning is equivalent to university learning.

Professional development courses accept this idea. University nursing courses use Apel for experienced staff. Television producers, finance managers, trade union activists, community development workers or refugees with a professional background may potentially be assessed this way.

The recovering drug addicts you quote were on an access course for a social sciences degree. Their understanding and knowledge, not just experience, of social issues around drug abuse, were a powerful basis for Apel.

In France, " validation des acquis professionnels " gives candidates a statutory right to have experience assessed against up to 100 per cent of a higher education course. Sweden is introducing similar initiatives.

In the UK, Apel is being written into many policy documents as a means of widening participation and promoting equity. The QAA's guidance on Apel is being drafted in consultation with a cross-sector group of Apel practitioners.

It is a shame that some academic institutions will never see the relevance of individual learning, even though they are comfortable with awarding PhDs by publication.

Helen Pokorny
Learning and teaching coordinator
London Metropolitan University

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