Background to the conference
Recognition of prior learning has been a topic in the Bologna process since the ministerial meeting in Berlin 2003.
"Ministers underline the important contribution of higher education in making lifelong learning a reality. They are taking steps to align their national policies to realise this goal and urge Higher Education Institutions and all concerned to enhance the possibilities for lifelong learning at higher education level including the recognition of prior learning. They emphasise that such action must be an integral part of higher education activity."
However, the Bologna Implementation Report from 2015 stated "…the recognition of non-formal and informal learning clearly remains an area where further action is needed. This applies to the recognition of prior learning as a basis for allocation of credits towards a qualification and/or exemption from some programme requirements and even more so to recognition of prior learning as basis for access to higher education programmes."
The commitments in the Yerevan Communiqué
Thus the ministers within the EHEA committed themselves in the Yerevan Communiqué in 2015:
- to remove obstacles to the recognition of prior learning for the purposes of providing access to higher education programmes and facilitating the award of qualifications on the basis of prior learning, as well as encouraging higher education institutions to improve their capacity to recognize prior learning;
- to review national qualifications frameworks, with a view to ensure that learning paths within the framework provide adequately for the recognition of prior learning.
The recommendations of the Council of the European Union
Recognition of prior learning and lifelong learning is also a priority within the European Union. In December 2012 the Council adopted a recommendation on validation of non-formal and informal learning. The recommendation states that the member states should:
- have in place, no later than 2018 /…/ arrangements for the validation of non-formal and informal learning which enable individuals to:
- have knowledge, skills and competences which have been acquired through non-formal and informal learning validated, including, where applicable, through open educational resources;
- obtain a full qualification, or, where applicable, part qualification, on the basis of validated non-formal and informal learning experiences /…/
- include, as appropriate, the following elements in arrangements for the validation of non-formal and informal learning /…/:
- Certification of the results of the assessment
The current refugee situation
With about 1.3 million refugees coming to the EU in 2015 more than 50 % of which are in the age between 18 and 34, the issue of recognition of prior learning and alternative learning paths has become even more urgent. Many of the newly arrived are just about to start their post-secondary education or have studied at higher education institutions without being able to finalise their studies.
It is high time for action! This conference, arranged within the framework of the Bologna Working group 2 on Implementation, will therefore focus on RPL and opportunities for lifelong learning. The conference will offer opportunities for peer learning, within the EHEA, on procedures and methods for RPL. Special focus will be access and inclusion of newly arrived migrants in higher education. We aim to inspire and encourage HEIs and EHEA stakeholders to develop schemes for RPL and other initiatives. The outcome of the conference partly depends on your active contribution.