Accreditation of prior learning

  • The principles underpinning the recognition of prior learning (certificated or experiential) which has taken place outside the University, and how the credit assigned may be used at Oxford Brookes, are set out in the Regulations for Study (section 3.7).

    Key points to remember are that:

    • Applications for the recognition of prior learning may be made at any point of a programme.
    • Credit can only be awarded in the multiples used on the programme against which it is being sought, i.e. in respect of whole modules or stages/levels of a programme.
    • A robust process must take place to assess the equivalence of learning outcomes, and evidence of the assessment process must be available for scrutiny by external examiners.
    • The responsibility for awarding credit for prior learning lies with the relevant examination committee, and appeals of APL decisions should be made through the normal academic appeals process.
    • Students awarded exemption from aspects of a programme through APL or APEL should be provided with information about how their final award classification will be calculated if it will differ from the standard calculation.
    • Credit awarded through APL or APEL is recorded on the transcript.
  • Subject Coordinators/admissions tutors are responsible for assessing claims for admission with credit, and the results of the assessment should be recorded on the relevant form (available from the Registry), and submitted for approval. Advice on the assessment of APL may be sought from the examination committee Chair or ADESE, but the authority for verifying decisions and approving the award of credit for prior learning lies with the relevant examination committee.

    Where admission with credit is sought in respect of one or more modules, the learning outcomes of the qualification being presented for recognition should be mapped against the learning outcomes of the module/s for which exemption is sought; or against the learning outcomes of the relevant stages of the programme to which entry is being requested, to show how the qualification equates to comparable levels of the University programme. If level learning outcomes are not stated for the programme, reference should be made to the appropriate level descriptors in the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Awarding Bodies.

    An overseas qualification may be judged acceptable for entry with credit, subject to reference to UK-NARIC, to the relevant overseas qualifications framework, and to the FHEQ. Entry with advanced standing may also be granted through an articulation agreement with a partner organisation, in which students successfully completing an identified programme at the partner are guaranteed entry at a later stage of a specified Brookes programme. This type of arrangement must be formally approved through the appropriate processes relating to collaborative provision, and is not dealt with via APL.

    Where a student undertakes certified learning concurrently with, but not as a part of, their programme of study at the University, they may apply for that credit to be applied towards their programme, if relevant. Examination committees are responsible for assessing such claims, and – as with other APL applications – must make a judgement about the equivalence of the learning outcomes of the external qualification with the learning outcomes of the module for which exemption is being sought.

    The accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL) is the recognition of uncertificated learning which has taken place outside formal educational settings, such as in the workplace. Where an applicant’s learning can be assessed with sufficient accuracy – usually through a portfolio of evidence, with a statement about the relevant learning that has been gained from the work (or other) experience presented, and how it relates to the programme against which credit is being sought - it may be used to award credit towards a programme of study.

    As with APL, claims for APEL must be assessed for equivalence with the learning outcomes of the programme or module against which the credit is claimed. The Open Award framework may also be used to facilitate individual claims for APEL.

    Faculties must have clear procedures in place for assessing APEL claims, and clear information must be available to staff and students about:

    • who is responsible for collecting and presenting the evidence of learning,
    • what format the evidence should take,
    • what advice and support will be provided by the University for claimants in preparing the portfolio,
    • by whom and how the claim will be assessed,
    • which examination committee will consider the claim for approval,
    • how the APEL will be recorded on the transcript, and
    • how award classifications will be calculated.

    Credit for prior learning can only be awarded in respect of whole modules or programme stages - potential claimants should therefore be advised against presenting an application for APEL unless they are able to demonstrate sufficient learning through experience (and not experience alone) to equate to the learning outcomes for at least one module. The cost of processing claims for APEL can also be high because of the complexity and the time involved - for both University staff and claimants - in putting together the portfolio of evidence, advising and supporting applicants, and assessing the claims. Applicants should be advised of this prior to embarking on the process