No Image Available


Read more from TrainingZone

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

The ‘essential lifelong learning tool’: APEL


Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) should be given a higher status in Higher Education institutions because it offers potential benefits for students, employers and the nation as a whole as the 'essential lifelong learning tool'.

So says a study carried out by the Learning from Experience Trust based at Goldsmiths College, London with DfEE funding, which says that APEL in Higher Education can make an important contribution to policies for flexible learning, widening access, work-based learning and the development of lifelong learners.

APEL gives credit for learning based on prior experience - from work, community or volunteer experience - which has not previously been assessed. By converting informal learning into certificated learning, APEL provides cost-effective routes to qualifications.

The Mapping APEL survey shows that the majority of higher education institutions have APEL policies in place, but that there is a gap between policy and practice, and only a small number of students are actually following the APEL route. The survey identified a number of factors to explain why APEL has not taken off on a greater scale, including resistance of academic staff, problems with gathering evidence for portfolios and over-complex funding arrangements.

The Learning from Experience Trust says there are many advantages for employers and HE institutions in encouraging and attracting students for APEL, as it attracts mature, experienced learners and provides tools to assess learning wherever it happens. It also offers the chance to increase the qualifications of employees while minimising time lost from work and providing a more rapid response to employment changes than can be achieved with taught courses. The government should see it as a key tool to help support lifelong learners and generate innovation in Higher Education institutions by introducing more flexible learning processes.

Among its recommendations, the report says that Higher Education institutions should review their current practives and provide training for all staff in working with APEL, which should be funded by the DfEE. The study suggests key practices that would extend APEL to more students include better promotion of the scheme and the use of a greater range of assessment tools

The DfEE should also provide more information about APEL and flexible learning to employers and potential students, and encourage the potential for APEL within Individual Learning Accounts (ILAs).


Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!