This presentation aims at showing how French universities have organised themselves to take into account and support RPL since 2002, when a law was passed to organise RPL at a national level. It included specific dispositions for University Bologna awards, which made for a new, comprehensive approach that went further than a simple third way of awarding degrees to involve a complete new paradigm in which quality assurance, competence-based award definition and individual assessment lead to the recognition by Universities of the inputs of the professional world. The acceptance of RPL in higher institutions was largely fostered by an organisation that rested on a mix of constraint and autonomy: although compelled to setup a recognition process, each university was allowed to implement it according to its own strategy. The example of the university of Le Havre will serve to show initial academic resistance was overcome. The RPL process rests on the burden of proof and a competence-based approach was developed, one that radically changed certification, from institution-centric process to learner-centred assessment. The RPL jury is a case in point as it enjoys a new, unique positioning, above all juries within the University. Ten years after the first diplomas were awarded, large numbers of academics have accepted RPL but challenges remain. They centre on the cost of the procedure and the failure of enterprises to use it widely and to finance it: we are now able to see how RPL has evolved from its initial aim as a tool to fight unemployment to a personal instrument of development.
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