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

Author - Anne Murphy

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VaLEx Report of Audit of AP(E)L in higher education in Ireland

The audit of AP(E)L in higher education in Ireland was conducted as the first activity in the DIT VaLEx project. The Republic of Ireland had not been included in the TRANSFINE research and therefore there was no comparative data of the same nature already in the public domain.

It was decided at the outset of the Irish research to use an extended version of the TRANSFINE experts’ questionnaire as the main research instrument, and to use a similar structure of inner and outer circles of experts for consultation and feedback. Accordingly, the DIT VaLEx project-management team invited four colleagues with experience of AP(E)L to act as an in-house consultation panel. An Inner Circle of Experts was formed with representatives of key stakeholders including the Higher Education Authority (HEA), The National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI), The Higher Education Awards Council (HETAC), The Further Education Awards Council (FETAC), FAS the national training authority, and a joint convenor of the Irish AP(E)L Network.

The Outer Circle experts consisted of all the questionnaire respondents and the members of the Irish AP(E)L Network in both the Republic and Northern Ireland (note 8). The perceived role of these experts was both to complete and return the questionnaires, and to contribute to the analysis of the data and the recommendations for future development of AP(E)L in higher education. Initial findings were available to respondents for comment in late April, leading to case studies and formulation of recommendations at a VaLEx AP(E)L seminar in DIT in June 2004.

The research was conducted in the higher education sector only, since FETAC had already established a representative RPL Technical Working Group with the aim of having principles and procedures agreed for the further education sector between 2004 and 2005.

Research was not conducted in the adult and community sectors for VaLEx since considerable data were available already from the consultation processes for the Green and White Papers on adult education (Adult education in an era of learning (1998) and Learning for Life (2000) respectively), from the AONTAS (1995) study (note 9), from the Ni Mhaolrunaigh (2003) study for the HEA and Dublin City University (DCU), and from the Deane and Watters EU Irish Presidency Conference background discussion paper (2004).

The VaLEx questionnaire was distributed in late February 2004 to thirty third-level colleges. Country reports from TRANSFINE and the earlier Socrates project were included with the questionnaire, together with the main literature to be used as an analytical framework for the final report.

The following colleges responded to the questionnaire:

Blanchardstown Institute of Technology
Carlow Institute of Technology
Centre for Development Studies, Kimmage Manor, Dublin
Cork Institute of Technology
Dublin Business School
Dublin City University
Dublin Institute of Technology
Dundalk Institute of Technology
Dunlaoghaire Institute of Technology
Griffith College, Dublin
Limerick Institute of Technology
Milltown Institute, Dublin
National College of Art and Design, Dublin
Open Training College
Sligo Institute of Technology
Tralee Institute of Technology
Trinity College Dublin
University College Cork
University College Dublin
University College Galway
University of Limerick
Waterford Institute of Technology

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