22Higher EducationApel and Masterchef Ireland continuedNCGE NEWS Winter 2011So, we the Masterchef Ireland viewers, know how APEL works. We know that experiential learning is assessed by experts using a set of criteria that are appropriate and fit-for-purposes. We know that candidates for APEL can self-assess within their own interpretation of standards and can often mis-judge their own levels of knowledge and skills. We saw no coaches, mentors, advisers or counsellors intervene between the candidates and the expert assessors. We did see the assessors explain clearly what was expected from the candidates and how learning was to be demonstrated. In higher education this is broadly how APEL works. Experts in the target programme set up appropriate assessment mechanisms for candidates in relation to the entry requirements, advanced entry requirements, module exemptions, or whole award. Candidates provide evidence of having achieved the required learning and the capacity to articulate their learning. Assessors use a set of appropriate criteria by which to judge the evidence of learning in each case.Why then is APEL now becoming a site of contestation among education and training interests? There still persists the belief that brokerage services are necessary to arbitrate between a candidate and an awarding body. Powerful stakeholders in the adult and further education field have promoted such models since the mid-1990s and policy support in this regard ebbs and flows. The Expert Group on Future Skills Report, January 2011 'Developing Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) in the context of the National Skills Strategy Up-skilling Objectives' clearly exposes thetensions in the positions held by the further education/adult education sector and the higher education sector. Because higher education operates within the 'technologies' of the NQF it is unsurprising that the sector sees no role for external agencies in APEL guidance in relation to its awards. Nor is it surprising that bodies like AONTAS maintain their promotion of guidance services in relation to APEL. Higher education providers have considerably improved their policies and procedures of APEL in recent years, for the most part centred on subsidiarity to the academic programme and the award to which it leads. This model is likely to persist. However, much has also been learned about RPL (a term which includes both certificated and experiential learning) in relation to designing responses to immediate labour market needs, and in relation to strategies to assist unemployed persons to gain employment through improving their formal qualifications, particularly through the three annual round of Labour Market Activation Funds. Higher education well understands the challenges for applicants in these initiatives in making their prior learning visible, and much urgent learning has been achieved in this regard. The guidance and counselling required in this context is offered at the point of application initially by generalist experts and thereafter at the programme level by subject matter experts - the 'Masterchef' equivalent. These experiences have not forwarded the argument for a national strategy and centralised mechanism for APEL guidance and counselling at higher education level. But the argument for better internal, nationally funded, resources for APEL at all levels seems to have been enhanced.
23Additional InformationDr Anne Murphy has written the following articles on APEL APEL Matters in higher education, 2008 Red Lion Press, 'Where does APEL fit in higher education?' http://level3.dit.ie/issue2/murphy/murphy_1.html, RPL Matters in the DIT: policy and practice guide for staff' 2010 DIT, 'Policy development and implementation procedures for recognition of prior learning in higher education; a case study of practice in higher education' http://level3.dit.ie/issue9/murphy/murphy_1.htmlCLICK toLINKCLICK toLINKAuthor Dr Anne Murphy works as RPL Policy Officer and education policy expert in the Directorate of Academic Affairs and Registrar, Dublin Institute of Technology. She has over thirty years experience of education, research and development and was a founder member of the first Irish Higher Education APEL Network in the mid-1990s. She has worked on several nationally and EU-funded research projects and as a consultant for the Council of Europe, the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and the Malaysia Qualifications Agency. She supervises PhD and Masters research students and is involved in several national and international networks related to higher education and to recognition of prior learning. Higher EducationApel and Masterchef Ireland continuedNCGE NEWS Winter 2011ELGPNELGPN UpdateCLICK toLINKNCGE is an active member of ELGPN Work Package 4 which focuses on the development of a draft framework for quality assurance and evidence based practice for guidance across all sectors. This framework is being developed through dialogue, sharing of national experiences and co-operation of the representative member states involved. As designated representative for Ireland at ELGPN, NCGE attended the plenary meeting in Warsaw in September. The meeting provided the opportunity for collaboration and updates on policy developments from the EU Commission DG Education and Culture.Click to link to Newsletter for ELGPN October 2011 http://ktl.jyu.fi/img/portal/ 10954/ELGPN_newsletter_October_2011.