The Norwegian concept of «realkompetanse» refers to all types of prior learning – formal, non-formal and informal. The importance of guaranteeing the right of the individual to such validation is reflected in key legislation and national strategies.
At a strategic level, there has been a development towards policies aimed at broad, differentiated opportunities for competence development. In the Strategy for Lifelong Learning 2007 (Ministry of Education and Research), validation of informal and non-formal learning was one of the main priorities. The Government’s initiative on Lifelong Learning 2009 states that the system for validating prior learning must be promoted and strengthened. The Norwegian validation system is based on shared principles in all sectors; among others that the validation process should be voluntary and beneficial for the individual. The opportunities, rights and benefits related to the validation process are promoted by various stakeholders locally and nationally. Skills Norway is one of the important national bodies in this work.
Validation in the Labour Market
The Basic Agreement for 2009–2013 between the Confederation of Norwegian Business and Industry (NHO) and the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) confirms the importance of making prior learning visible, stating in § 16-4 Documentation of actual qualifications: «It is important that enterprises have a system to document the individuals’ experiences, courses and practice related to the employment relationship.»
VPL in Higher Education
In the Norwegian validation system, prior learning is validated against learning outcomes in curricula from each education sector. In tertiary vocational education and higher education prior learning is validated against learning outcomes in local curricula developed in each institution. The validation is performed locally in each institution.
As for higher education, adults (age 25 or above) without a general college and university admissions certification can apply for enrollment to a specific study programme on the basis of documented prior learning. This right was introduced in 2001. Documentation of informal and non-formal learning may also provide a basis for exemption from modules in the study programme. All validation of prior learning in Norway follow the same overall procedure, regardless of education levels:
Funding of VPL
The Norwegian government funds VPL processes in Norway.