Validation in higher education – for credit award and life-long learning
The National Delegation for Validation 2015–2019 was appointed by the Government to follow-up, support and promote coordinated development work in the area of validation. Its remit includes identifying what development action and changes are justified and presenting proposals to the Government that can strengthen validation work in education and working life.
In this report the Delegation presents proposals to enable more people to have their prior learning assessed and recognised for credits in higher education.
Validation of skills and qualifications in higher education needs to increase
In A national strategy for validation (SOU 2017:18) the Delegation made the assessment that the development of validation in higher education is one of the areas that should be given priority. The development of structures for validation is weak. At the same time there are great needs among jobseekers, newly arrived immigrants and working people to have skills and competences developed in contexts other than Swedish higher education mapped, assessed and recognised.
This interim report Validering i högskolan – för tillgodoräknande och livslångt lärande (Validation in higher education – for credit award and life-long learning, SOU 2018:29) is intended to improve the conditions for fair and flexible recognition of prior learning, irrespective of where, when and how the individual has developed their competences. Functioning validation for the award of credits is of central importance in realising the possibilities of life-long learning in higher education and in promoting mobility and internationalisation. It is also of great importance for the skills provision in the labour market.
Validation and recognition of prior learning – an international commitment
The Lisbon Recognition Convention stresses the principle of fair and flexible recognition of programmes and periods of study from other countries. The focus of recognition processes in Europe has shifted from the content of a study programme and the forms for learning to what an individual is actually capable of after completing the programme. Recognition must be seen from a holistic perspective that focuses on what a programme is intended to lead to and should only be refused if it is possible to point to substantial differences from the learning outcomes of the programme to be credited. Sweden ratified the Convention in August 2001.
Since 2003 the Lisbon Convention has been an integral part of the Bologna Process, where the need to promote life-long learning and establish systems for validation and recognition of knowledge and skills developed in all forms of learning has been repeatedly high-lighted.
Sweden supports the Recommendation of the Council of the European Union on validation. It states that Member States should have in place, no later than 2018, arrangements which enable individuals to have knowledge, skills and competences acquired through non-formal and informal learning validated.
Proposals and assessments of the National Delegation for Validation
Several challenges remain before the validation and recognition of prior learning becomes a natural part of the activities of higher education institutions. The Delegation proposes:
- A modernised regulatory framework for fair and flexible recognition.
- Better reporting of credit Awards.
- Long-term commission to the Swedish Council for Higher Education and further support for the development of methods and assessment criteria.
- Special reimbursement for credits awarded on the basis of prior Learning.
- Monitoring and quality audit of the work of higher education institutions.
- Possibilities of awarding credits in contract education.
- Advance notice of award of credits.