HIGHER EDUCATION INTHE ECONOMIC CRISIS: RPL AS A TOOL FOR THE RECOGNITION OF QUALIFICATIONS, STUDENT MOBILITY, UP-SKILLING AND RE-SKILLING
4. Findings of the Delphi Survey
4.1 Data from Round One
The first round Delphi was divided into six parts. A total of twenty-two respondents completed the first round questionnaire. The first set of questions asked about the purposes for which RPL was practised in organisations based on fourteen listed contexts. A further set of questions asked about the main RPL tools that were used in companies and organisations, the main assessment methods for RPL employed, and the main users.
The fourth section asked about the costs and benefits of RPL for the labour market, the individual worker, the employing organisation, and further and higher education. An additional question was asked on the direct costs of RPL.
The final section was about the future of RPL. Firstly, about RPL technologies that would support the development of RPL such as flexible learning pathways, levels of learning on an agreed framework, credits, learning outcomes, state funding, modules, sectoral qualifications and e-portfolios. Secondly, respondents were asked their level of agreement with a number of statements about the future of RPL including some of its main drivers and obstacles.
There were fourteen contexts for RPL practice listed in the first round questionnaire. Across these fourteen contexts RPL for the purposes ‘access to qualifications’ and ‘up-skilling’ were selected in the highest proportions. This was determined by the frequency of answers to the ‘agree’ and ‘strongly agree’ options to this question which consisted of a five point Likert scale ranging from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5). This paper concentrates on responses where the context of higher education was rated highest. For example, RPL for the purpose of ‘access to qualifications’ was chosen in the highest proportions for the contexts of higher education (77.3%), further education (45.5%) and continuing professional development (40.9%). RPL for the purpose of ‘credits’ was chosen in low proportions across all of the fourteen contexts, except for the higher education context (68.2%). RPL for ‘up-skilling’ was ranked highest for the context of higher education (40.9%). RPL for ‘mobility’ was chosen in the greatest proportions for the contexts of higher education (27.3%) and work-based learning/in-company training (22.7%). However there were generally low levels of agreement overall with ‘mobility’ as a purpose of RPL. Table 1 below presents the most frequently chosen contexts for each listed RPL use.( see Table 1).
Therefore, in relation to higher education there were firm opinions about RPL for ‘access to qualifications’, for ‘credits’, for ‘up-skilling’ and for ‘mobility’. There were questions raised over the value of awards achieved through RPL. Respondents also added purposes of RPL for higher education, which were RPL for ‘access to programmes’ and ‘exemptions from modules or programmes’.