‘The user in the centre’ of the Biennale on Validation of Prior Learning


© VIA University College
VPL Biennale
8 June 2017

‘The user at the centre’ was this year’s theme of the second biennale on Validation of Prior Learning (VPL), which was held in Aarhus, Denmark from 25 to 27 April 2017. The biennale brought together around 200 participants representing government departments in the field of education, employment and social welfare; employers’ associations; youth organisations; trade unions, and educational and training institutions. Among other important themes, participants discussed how to integrate the validation of prior learning outcomes into lifelong learning strategies and how to support the user in the process of doing this.

Some of the reflections included the central role that national qualifications frameworks (NQFs) play in the validation of prior learning (VPL). It is the role of governments and sectoral stakeholders to actively embed VPL into NQF mechanisms. Madhu Singh, Senior Programme Specialist at the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) further highlighted the important role of the individual, taking responsibility in the validation process.  

The Biennale resulted in a set of recommendations to guide the work of policy makers, industry sectors, practitioners, researchers, social partners and civil society organisations.

  1. Achieving better and more cooperation, particularly outside the vocational education system;
  2. Using the diversity of methods and tools, by monitoring, for example, NQFs and reflect on their inclusiveness;
  3. Expanding and including more VPL in the system, allowing people to do more with their skills;
  4. Expanding and reaching target groups in need of VPL by allowing flexibility while at the same time assuring quality; and
  5. Getting engaged and networking more through sharing best practice and lessons learned.

The validation of prior learning needs to be embedded in various levels and across all environments, but most importantly the process has to be co-designed with the learner – in the end it is the learner who can connect learning to a learning outcome.

The Biennale was co-organised by UIL together with the Nordic Network for Adult Learning (NVL); the European Centre for Valuation of Prior Learning (EC-VPL, the Netherlands); and the Danish Knowledge Centre (NVR) of the VIA University College of Denmark. All online publications, presentations and outcomes are available on the Conference webpage.