Recognising Prior Learning at a pan-European Level


Europe is undergoing substantial demographic and technological changes, and will have to adapt its higher education system as a result. Methods for recognising prior learning (RPL) are becoming increasingly important, and will need to be compatible across national boundaries.

Against this backdrop, the European Association of Institutions in Higher Education (EURASHE), in co-operation with the European RPL Network (ERPLN), the Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MŠMT) and the Czech Association of Schools of Professional Higher Education (CASPHE), organised the EURASHE Annual Lifelong Learning Seminar on RPL, 13-14 December 2012 in Prague. The title of the seminar was RPL: Flexible Ties within Higher Education, and attracted over 50 international participants from universities, as well as Czech and European organisations.

Mr Jin Yang, Senior Programme Specialist at UIL, spoke on the relevance of  UNESCO’s Guidelines on Recognition, Validation and Accreditation (RVA) of the Outcomes of Non-formal and Informal Learning to higher education. His talk focused on the principles and concrete mechanisms  necessary for integrating RVA into higher education policy.

The aim of the conference was to

  • Raise awareness of the importance of RPL among stakeholders
  • Discuss methods of incorporating RPL into policy,
  • Build partnerships within EURASHE and the European RPL network

In summary, the Seminar showed that RPL has been widely accepted in higher education systems of Europe, but challenges remain. Key quality issues discussed in the seminar include developing appropriate assessment criteria to take into account the wide range of prior learning, guidance and counselling of lifelong learners, and the accountability of recognition authorities.

More information on the seminar

Read an abstract of Mr Yang’s speech