Accreditation of Prior Learning - APL
Applicants with significant prior professional experience in a related field may apply to the Director to have the total qualifying programme reduced. Such application must make reference to relevant fields in which the student has acquired professional competence.
Claiming your Credit
Vocational awards are of genuine value to employers, especially when recruiting new employees. However, they also have an intrinsic value in the education system: as with general degrees, possession of a vocational degree opens the way to further studies, even when the initial reason for creating them is to facilitate direct integration into the workforce.
The respective shares of general, technological and vocational content in training programs are determined through compromise, and these compromises are regularly re-examined to take account of changing needs in both the spheres where such degrees are of value: the productive sector and the educational sector.
The right to obtain qualifications on the basis of experiential learning (Accreditation of Prior Learning - APL) changes not only the methods used to assess candidates but also the very nature of what is assessed: in this case, the knowledge underpinning occupational skills is evaluated, rather than knowledge formulated from an academic standpoint.
This presupposes that the frame of reference used to define degree content shall be based on an activity and competences frame of reference, to the detriment of traditional training programs, which become a sort of derivative product that is specific to a particular learning mode: formal education (whether initial or continuing). This focus on the competence frame of reference in the APL procedure obviously raises some concern within the education system, particularly in higher education: for example, those who obtain degrees through APL are suspected of having gaps in their theoretical knowledge, which may compromise their ability to benefit from the courses of study which they are legally entitled to enter.
As a result, the teaching community has shown some resistance to the development of APL, which could lead to a high rate of failure if teachers sitting on panels of examiners apply overly stringent standards to degree candidates. This would inevitably discourage potential candidates and doom the APL procedure to marginal status, whereas in fact the authorities wish to make it a cornerstone of the new approach to obtaining employment qualification, as part of the process of 'lifelong learning'.