Implementation of the recommendation on the validation of NFIFL – UK Level

UK country inventory reports (2014)

In the UK each country is responsible for its own Education and Training resulting in devolved systems, with different qualifications frameworks and different approaches to the validation of NFIFL.   The European Inventory therefore includes separate reports on the validation arrangements for England and Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and the most recent country reports (2014) can be accessed here.

Approaches to the validation of NFIFL in the UK countries

Although different approaches to the validation of NFIFL (more commonly referred to as the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) in the UK) exist in the UK countries, it is fair to say that all countries have national arrangements linked to their National Qualifications Frameworks (QCF, SCQF and CQFW).  However the actual implementation of the validation of NFIFL is decentralised and left to individual learning providers and awarding organisations.

Since 2010, there have been positive developments with regard to RPL, perhaps most notably in the HE sector, where RPL has been given a clear place in the QAA’s Quality Code and in Scotland where the SCQF Partnership have prepared supporting tools such as the RPL toolkit and online RPL guide. However, actual application of RPL is ‘patchy’ and relatively low in the UK as there is a perception amongst providers that RPL is expensive and time-consuming and lack of explicit resourcing for RPL is a barrier, particularly in the college sector.  If RPL is to be increased, further support and awareness raising amongst providers and other practitioners involved in working with learners is required.

The UK European Qualifications Framework (EQF) Work Programme for 2012/2013 included a project to explore the approaches to recognising non-formal certificated learning in the UK countries. In addition, the Project identified case studies to demonstrate the approach/es used within each country. The final project report ‘Recognising non-formal certificated learning within and outside qualifications frameworks in the UK, the Netherlands and Finland’ can be accessed here.

How UK countries are responding to the recommendation

Although the UK countries meet some elements of this recommendation to some degree, UK practice in the validation of NFIFL is relatively poor compared to some other European countries such as France, Finland and Estonia where national strategies and legal frameworks exist for the validation of NFIFL.

To date no additional plans or structures have been put in place by UK Governments to address this recommendation however this is currently under consideration.

Further Information

Council Recommendation on the validation of non-formal and informal learning eur-lex.europa.eu

The European Guidelines cedefop.europa.eu

The European inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning cedefop.europa.eu

Recognising non-formal certificated learning within and outside qualifications frameworks in the UK, the Netherlands and Finland ec.europa.eu

SCQFP webpages on Recognition of Prior Learning scqf.org.uk