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Where does AP(E)L fit in Higher Education?

Author - Anne Murphy

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Summary of questionnaire data continued

Attitudes to a Europe-wide AP(E)L system
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 regulations.

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.


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