There are 5 main stages in the validation process: Information, Identification, Documentation, Assessment, Validation.
The first step is for you to obtain the information about what is possible and how to start the process. This is more than getting pieces of paper – it involves a discussion about the general arrangements, the possibilities and the limits, and specific rules or regulations.
Notes for HE professionals: You could add here a note about where they should go, how they should make first contact and a web link. For example: Is there a central validation office? Or is the process managed at faculty level?
When you have had time to reflect on the general information, your next step is to have a focussed conversation about what course(s) you would like to do, what courses are available, what diplomas, knowledge and skills you have to follow the course. In practice, this might mean several conversations with different people in the institution, for example: the member of academic staff who is responsible for the course, a student who is taking the course, an administrator, or an adviser. It is important that you are clear what the legal framework is for the procedure, your rights and the limits of the possibilities not just within the process but which doors it will open and which will remain closed (if any). All these will be important in helping you to make a decision about which course or diploma you will work towards. Usually there is one person who be help you to coordinate these activities and to make your decision.
Note to HE professionals: Add the contact details of any key professional responsible for the process in your institution. Include a note of any constraints following the programme: for example, do all professions accept this process in your country?
The third step is to put together your portfolio of evidence to show that you have the knowledge, understanding and skills you need and the criteria that will be used to assess them. The evidence might include:
- Certificates, diplomas, documents about the content of any academic or vocational/professional courses you have taken, evidence of employment, voluntary experience.
- References or letters of support and recommendation from teachers, trainers, employers, colleagues
- Self-evaluation and reflection reports – you will probably be given a form of some kind which guides you through this process
- Test results – you may be given some tests so that you can show what you know
- Demonstrations – you may be asked to demonstrate a particular technique (for example in a laboratory)
- Reports, articles and other papers that you have written
- Conferences, seminars that you have attended
- Evidence of language skills
It may be necessary to get some of these documents translated by an approved translator – this will be made clear by your advisor.
This may seem an almost impossible list of documents to produce and you may not be able to produce some of them but do not worry – validation is designed to overcome such problems and the professionals who work with you are experienced in finding ways to solve them. And you will have an adviser to help you throughout the process. There may also be meetings with others who are going through the same process or have already completed it so that you can get peer support.
Note to HE professionals: You should provide any templates here and contact details of other students, help group meetings and so on
When you and your advisor think your portfolio is ready then you enter the assessment phase. The way this happens may be different in different institutions and different faculties depending of the subject of the course. Sometimes it is a one-to-one interview, sometimes it is a small panel including an academic from the relevant discipline and a professional from the field, such as a practising economist or engineer; sometimes it is a combination of these. Your advisor will explain the process to you and help you prepare for it.
Note to HE professionals: There are almost certainly rules and regulations about this and they are undoubtedly too long and complex to include in these guidelines but you could perhaps produce a separate page that sets them out simply and clearly with a link to the full details on-line. It is particularly important that it is clear what the role of the advisor is in the assessment process.
The result of the assessment process is usually validation – that is a formal recognition of the knowledge and skills you have demonstrated successfully. It may take different forms:
- A certificate of diploma of some kind
- The award of credits
- A formal statement authorising entry to a particular course
Usually the result is a positive one – your advisor is unlikely to recommend that you go forward to assessment unless he or she thinks you have a reasonable chance of success. However, it may not be exactly what you expected, for example you might not be awarded as many credits as you need to do exactly what you planned but you will be given advice on what to do next.
Note for HE professionals: You could insert here the range of possible outcomes of the assessment and validation procedure available in your institution – we have assumed here that it is a not a simple yes/no or pass/fail outcome.