Accrediting informal learning: drivers, challenges and HE responses

Heather Skinner, Peter Green, Haydn Blackey

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    Purpose Higher education institutions (HEIs) can face barriers implementing the accreditation of informal learning, despite many institutions having developed policies and strategies to embed employability and skills. The purpose of this paper is to present the case of the institutional response of one HEI when dealing with the various drivers and challenges faced when accrediting informal learning at higher levels. Design/methodology/approach The case study approach was adopted as this method allowed for in-depth qualitative enquiry into a contemporary phenomenon in a real-life context. Findings The paper finds that by designing a shell framework incorporating module outlines and a toolkit of support materials for various stakeholder groups, HEIs may overcome many of the implementation problems often associated with HE accreditation of informal higher level learning. Practical implications This framework and toolkit approach could help other HEIs better enable the wider accreditation and embedding of work-based learning within HE, which is deemed so important in facilitating the achievement of UK Government targets for 40 per cent of UK adults to gain a qualification at Level 4 or above in the next ten years. This is also a particular issue for Wales, dealing with its own skills agenda in response to specific skills gaps needed to ensure the sustainable future of the Welsh economy. Originality/value While a limited number of HEIs have adopted a framework approach to the accreditation of work-based learning, this paper addresses the issues in a regional context, as the framework and toolkit presented is the first of its kind to be articulated for the Welsh skills agenda by a Welsh HEI.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)52 - 62
    Number of pages10
    JournalHigher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


    • accreditation of prior learning
    • competences
    • higher education
    • skills
    • wales
    • workplace learning


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