Most experts and policy makers agree that recognition of prior learning (RPL) should be widespread reality in the practice of flexible higher education, tailored to the needs of lifelong learners. It is well understood that learning does not only take place in educational programs; people also learn and grow through experience. RPL holds the promise to adequately validate and accredit competences developed through informal and non-formal learning . RPL holds the promise to prove that these types of learning are just as valuable and lead to learning outcomes that are equivalent to formal education. But the promise of RPL will only become and remain reality if participants, stakeholders and society in general can trust and accept the assessment methods used and the results of these RPL-assessments. To put it clear, the quality of RPL-procedures should be undisputed.
This presentation will focus on key issues that determine the quality of RPL-procedures and acceptance of outcomes of RPL-procedures. These key issues involve the use of appropriate assessment criteria and instruments that allow for a wide range of types of evidence for competence development, while at the same time they have to match accurately with formal qualifications and curriculum requirements. Staff involved in guidance and counselling of participants and assessment of their competences need to have specific qualities and need to be selected and trained. The quality of the reports, the substantiation and justification of the assessment results, is a challenge in particular. Accountability of degree awarding authorities and those responsible for giving exemptions based on outcomes of RPL-procedures is another key issue in quality assurance, trust and acceptance. And of course, if the Higher Education Institutes are not capable of providing flexible learning arrangements, building on the competences of RPL-participants, RPL will not become widely used and accepted.
In the presentation these key issues will be discussed and an attempt will be made to pinpoint key success factors and practical suggestions to deal with these issues.
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