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Accreditation of prior learning (APL)

The concept of accreditation of prior learning (APL) was developed in Great Britain and France. APL is the generic term used for the award of credit on the basis of demonstrated learning that has occurred at some time in the past. This learning may have come about as the result of a course, or self-directed study, or as the result of experience either at work or in leisure pursuits. The latter is usually referred to as prior experiential learning. The credit that may be awarded within higher education on the basis of prior learning may take the form of entry into a programme of study, advanced standing within a programme of study, or credit towards an award. Decisions about the type and amount of credits may be based on certificates the learner has gained which demonstrate that learning has been assessed, or may take into account learning from experience which is considered worthy of credit. In all cases, credit is awarded for learning which can be demonstrated, not for the experience itself. The resulting credit is of equal standing to that awarded to learners following a more traditional route to an award, for example, through taught or distance learning modules.[1] At the Berlin Conference (2003), the European Ministers stressed that "the ↑recognition of prior learning must become an integral part of higher education activity. […] Many factors are presently combining to make the issue of accreditation of prior learning (APL) and ↑accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL) more visible than ever before […]"[2]
Related terms:
↑ECTS – European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System; ↑Formal, non-formal and informal learning; ↑Transfer and accumulation of credits

[2] Reichert, Sybille; Tauch, Christian: Trends IV: European Universities Implementing Bologna, published by the European University Association, EUA Publications 2005, p. 25; URL: http://www.eua.be/eua/jsp/en/upload/TrendsIV_FINAL.1117012084971.pdf (5.5.2006).

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