Where does AP(E)L fit in Higher Education?
of questionnaire data continued
Attitudes to a Europe-wide AP(E)L
Respondents were generally favourable to the notion of a Europe-wide
framework. However, a number of difficulties were identified regarding
recognition of learning acquired outside the state. It was considered
that formal test may be required to assess the nature and extent
of informal learning acquired abroad to establish benchmarks, but
this would probably be field-of-learning/occupation/trade specific.
This specificity was regarded by some as the greatest potential
of such a system. It was further suggested that this notion might
give an impetus for a review of the arguments for general categories
within the NQAI framework of qualifications. If international recognition
were to be developed there would need to be transparent and clear
procedures and agreed quality controls. Some responses indicated
that difficulties experienced in developing common systems at home
would be a good indicator of the potential to operate a Europe-wide
system, and that progress should not be over-rapid. Mutual recognition
of experiential learning was regarded as essential to facilitate
the mobility of students and workers, especially in the cases of
economic migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. It was indicated
that legal frameworks could be worked out for pan-European recognition
of experiential learning, taking account of international professional
There was general consensus that the weakness and challenges of
AP(E)L experiences in Ireland would probably emerge in a Europe-wide
system, and that probably the beneficiaries would be individuals
with the motivation and resources to pursue it. It was not greatly
regarded as a mechanism for social inclusion in its current forms.
Respondents indicated that there were no obvious benefits for existing
stakeholders at this time from a Europe-wide AP(E)L framework alone,
other than easier facilitation of mobility and student exchange.
The issue of resources would remain in any case, with the added
complication that in a differentiated third-level system as we have
at present, there would be greater difficulty in motivating colleges
to take responsibility for the development of a system to facilitate
disadvantaged individuals at a European level without considerable
stimulation at EU policy level.
Respondents did not perceive of any additional cultural barriers
to a Europe-wide system that do not exist within the ‘cultures’
of academia. It was suggested that globalisation would inevitably
reduce pockets of differentiation and lead to more interchange of
systems in any case.