Non-formal learning can be recognised in a number of ways in Wales. Firstly, recognition of prior learning (RPL) is possible for individuals by way of using their previously acquired learning to obtain or access formal qualifications on the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales (CQFW), including higher education and vocational qualifications.
Secondly, the Quality Assured Lifelong Learning (QALL) pillar of the CQFW is intended to recognise nonformal learning provision as a unit on the CQFW.
Thirdly, National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) represent an opportunity to validate workplace learning. They are aimed mainly at people in work and lead to a nationally-recognised qualification, proving the ability to perform an occupation to a nationally-recognised occupational standard.
VPL in Higher Education
The responsibility for the implementation of RPL lies with the individual Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), in line with the autonomous nature of this sector, where HEIs are responsible for admissions and assessment, as well as the quality and standards of their awards. Although there is no legislation that regulates RPL, there is a long tradition of recognition of prior learning and encouraging mature students to participate in higher education.
Access to HE courses prepare adult learners without traditional qualifications for study at university. Applicants to Access courses come from a variety of backgrounds, and the colleges concerned may assess their potential to enter the Access course taking into account their prior learning and experience. The Access to HE Diploma is a regulated qualification, regulated by QAA. Up to 50 % of the qualification can be gained by RPL
Validation in the Labour Market
National vocational qualifications (NVQs) are work-related, outcomes-based, competence-oriented qualifications that are based on national occupational standards (NOS). They are mainly targeted to people who are currently in work and provide evidence of professional competence. They can be taken as a qualification on their own, or as part of an apprenticeship. NVQs are assessed through evidence of performance against certain work-related tasks, rather than formal examinations. They can be individualised to the learner, to fit around his/her work commitments. There are no time limits on the completion of NVQs, no age limits and no special entry requirements.
Funding of VPL
Outside of the HE sector, it is not currently possible to draw down funding to carry out RPL, unless it is done ‘within’ the provision of a qualification via formal learning (i.e. for access/exemptions).
With regard to HE, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales provides credit-based funding for part-time and postgraduate provision, which could include RPL modules. If an RPL module is provided within a full-time undergraduate course, it is covered in the funding for the student placement, which is made up of a mixture of HEFCW funding (which may be a very small proportion for full-time undergraduate students) and funding from tuition fees (although it is possible that fees may be discounted for RPL modules).
This will not necessarily reflect what it costs to deliver the modules taken or how much the institution allocates internally for the delivery of the modules (the institution is free to spend HEFCW funding how it wishes and is not restricted by the way in which it was calculated). Eligible RPL modules are not treated differently than other modules in calculating HEFCW funding. Funding is not provided for the use of RPL for entry or admissions purposes, for experiential learning which has previously been accredited elsewhere, or for credits from which students are exempted.
References (All accessed on 19th of June 2017)
- Welsh Government Website, Quality Assured Lifelong Learning, http://gov.wales/topics/educationandskills/qualificationsinwales/creditqualificationsframework/qall/?lang=en