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

Author - Anne Murphy

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Summary of questionnaire data

Where AP(E)L is used
The data are from higher education contexts only, with most cases of AP(E)L related to existing course provision. A small number of cases within the higher education context are from adult education, work-based learning, partnerships with industry, and from collaborative projects with community and voluntary organisations. Fields of learning include nursing studies, adult and community education courses, adult literacy management, postgraduate professional development, business studies, design, maths and computers, applied biology, engineering, and construction studies. The range would be wider if non-standard entry to postgraduate courses were taken into account.

How AP(E)L is supported by college policy
Only five colleges reported having college-wide policy in place, though others were currently either developing or awaiting approval for such a policy. Nationwide there was only one full-time member of academic staff with the specific responsibility of an RPL Officer. Four colleges have staff with an AP(E)L role as part of their remit, especially in the cases of access officers. Colleges which use AP(E)L have supporting in-house documents, but only one has web-based support for applicants. Only two colleges have AP(E)L modules.

Types of AP(E)L modules
In the two colleges offering AP(E)L modules, the modules are available in-house, to registered students only. One college offers two module types: a broadly developmental/existential model with the potential for module exemptions, and a credit exchange/exemptions model. The second college with an AP(E)L module uses the credit exchange model only. All three cases are linked to European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) credits.

Levels of AP(E)L in use
AP(E)L is used at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels for non-traditional access by mature students and postgraduate applicants. Some colleges refer AP(E)L claims to the new NQAI framework of levels, but in general the existing levels of certificate, diploma and degree are used as benchmarks for assessment of experiential learning. Internationally acknowledged professional standards are used in some cases. There is no case reported where an entire award is achievable through AP(E)L: the maximum achievable is 50%. Grades are awarded for AP(E)L in one case only, with a maximum of 35% of the course AP(E)L-able in an award bearing year.

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