HIGHER EDUCATION INTHE ECONOMIC CRISIS: RPL AS A TOOL FOR THE RECOGNITION OF QUALIFICATIONS, STUDENT MOBILITY, UP-SKILLING AND RE-SKILLING
4.2 Data from Round Two
The second round questionnaire consisted of twenty-six statements resulting from the ambiguities and divergence that emerged in round one. Each statement included an option for additional comment from respondents. Respondents were asked to rate their level of agreement with each statement on a Likert scale ranging from ‘strongly agree’ (1) to ‘strongly disagree’ (5). There were a total of twenty respondents to this second round of the study. The statements with the highest levels of agreement are shown in table 4.
The concept of professional mobility is considered one of the potential value-adding attributes of RPL in terms of lifelong learning, yet the second highest level of agreement was with the statement ‘RPL will facilitate the mobility of workers more across and within qualifications frameworks than across borders’ (78.9% agreement). Furthermore the statement ‘without global RPL principles for non-formal and informal learning it is likely that only certified learning will facilitate mobility of workers’ had a 45% agreement, no ‘strongly agree’ answers, but a median of 2 (agree).
With regard to qualification recognition, there was disagreement with the statement ‘recognition of qualifications rather than recognition of non-formal/informal learning will remain the focus of RPL in companies and organisations’ (20% agreement). There was also a high level of agreement with the statement ‘RPL in the context of continuing professional development in companies and organisations will be valuable primarily for access to qualifications’ (65% agreement). It is also worthwhile to mention here a 55% agreement (mean of 2.48 and median of 2=agree) with ‘globalisation of knowledge, goods, services and economic activity will increase the demand for RPL in companies and organisations’. Yet a call for global principles of RPL or global recognition of qualifications (as mentioned above), although within the context of mobility, did not receive high levels of agreement despite an acknowledgement that global practice will necessitate some form of trans-national agreements from authorities with global standing. (see Table 4).
The market demands placed on higher education were also evident in the context of debates over up-skilling and re-skilling of people where there was a 25% agreement with the statement ‘RPL for up-skilling will more frequently be used in the contexts of State supported VET and Higher Education than in commercial companies and organisations’ (with a mean of 3.14 and medians of 3 and 4). There were additional comments from respondents stating that RPL is up to the individual, and it is up to educational institutions to build RPL into their systems. However, it was also said that academia does not lend itself to the simple solutions that organisations require and that this therefore necessitates some form of facilitation. There was a question over RPL for training needs analysis in the context of higher education, which was not rated highly in round one, ‘RPL for training needs analysis purposes will disappear from higher educational contexts’. There was only a 20% agreement with this statement (no ‘strongly agree’, mean of 3.62 and median of 4=disagree). There was an equally low 20% agreement with the statement ‘RPL for the purposes of personal development plans will be valuable in a work-based training/in-company training context only’ (mean of 3.52 and median of 4=disagree). One of the panel suggested that RPL for personal development plans would be more suited for professional recognition in educational programmes than in workplaces.