Where does AP(E)L fit in Higher Education?
National Report for the UK
Detailed analytical reports on the status of AP(E)L in the UK (Scotland,
England and Northern Ireland) were prepared in 2003 by the pre-VaLEx
Socrates Project, AP(E)L from the Learners’ Perspective, by
the Centre for Research in Lifelong Learning (CRLL), based at Glasgow-Caledonian
and Sterling. The key issues from those reports were used to inform
the VaLEx UK background report for the UK, the summary of which
is as follows:
In Scotland and England AP(E)L was enabled through the Credit Accumulation
and Transfer Scheme (CATS) in England and SCOTCATS in Scotland in
the 1990s. Since then it has remained a marginal institutional activity
both in FE and HE. There is no overall national framework for AP(E)L
in either England or Scotland and it has developed mostly in the
post-1992 universities, which generally place a higher emphasis
on widening participation than the older universities. AP(E)L has
developed too through EU funded projects such as Leonardo and Socrates,
generally in vocationally oriented or adult learning areas with
the emphasis on access/entry rather than on exemptions at advanced
standing, or on whole-award processes.
From the reports, AP(E)L is generally regarded as time-consuming
and overly-cumbersome relative to conventional approaches to course
design and delivery.
AP(E)L has been connected to work-based learning (WBL) through
the Scottish Vocational Qualifications system (SVQs) as a mechanism
for fast-tracking of experienced workers towards qualifications.
This is especially so at postgraduate-level entry for particular
sectors. AP(E)L for professional accreditation at undergraduate
level has been less successful, though. This may be because undergraduate
courses have tighter curriculum design approaches where ‘college
knowledge’ is central to modules and courses, making it difficult
to translate experiential learning across the systems.
A compounding issue is the centralised approach to the award of
credit in Scotland and England where only the Scottish Qualifications
Authority (SQA) and the English National Council for Vocational
Qualifications (NCVQ) and the universities can award credit. This
may be resolved in Scotland through the Scottish Credit and Qualifications
Framework currently in development.