Recognising Prior Learning

The University, and ADD, acknowledges and values the fact that potential students have a range of academic experience and qualifications prior to undertaking professional development on our taught Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP) and MEd Academic Practice programmes. In some instances, a prospective student may feel that prior experience of qualification could be acknowledged formally and contribute towards PGCAP or MEd AP credit. Accordingly, we consider claims for recognition of prior learning through three distinct routes:

  1. Full exemption from the requirement to complete PGCAP on the basis of previous qualification or professional recognition;
  2. Accreditation of prior certificated learning (APCL); or
  3. Accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL).

Should any prospective student staff feel that prior learning could be recognised then they can submit an Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) claim by consulting the following guidance and completing the associated APL Form.

What is the process for gaining PGCAP exemption or recognition of prior learning?

1. Full Exemption from the requirement to complete PGCAP on the basis of previous qualification or professional recognition

This advice is relevant to University of Glasgow staff who are on the Early Career Development Programme (ECDP). If you are not on the ECDP then you should look at APCL or APEL instead.

Most UK universities, and some overseas institutions, now offer PGCAP or equivalent qualifications for their staff and many are aligned against the UK Professional Standards Framework for teaching and supporting learning (UKPSF). Consequently, many staff join the university already holding equivalent qualifications or professional recognition.

Any new employee who holds an equivalent PGCAP from another institution at a level equivalent to the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Level 11, or holds professional recognition aligned against Descriptor 2 (D2) of the UKPSF (e.g. Fellow of AdvanceHE, formerly the HEA), may be exempt from the requirement to complete PGCAP at the University of Glasgow as part of the ECDP.

In this instance, exemption from the requirement to complete PGCAP as part of ECDP can be granted on the receipt of certificates and other necessary documentary evidence that clearly indicates 'equivalence' between previous qualifications or professional recognition and PGCAP. The applicant will need to complete Sections 1, 2 and 3a of the APL Form in this instance. Exemption differs from APCL/APEL since an ‘exemption’ does not involve the award of credits.

Several distinct examples are outlined below:

  1. An applicant is required to complete PGCAP as part of the ECDP but they have already completed a 60 credit PG Certificate in Academic Practice (or equivalent), or hold professional recognition aligned against D2 of the UKPSF.

    This applicant should provide ADD with copies of their PGCAP certificate and programme handbook and/or their UKPSF recognition certificate. If deemed equivalent, then the applicant would be exempt from the requirement to complete PGCAP as part of ECDP.

  2. An applicant has completed a teaching qualification at another university but it is not UKPSF aligned, nor is it clearly equivalent to PGCAP (e.g. it has a different name). The applicant is required to complete PGCAP as part of the ECDP.

    This applicant should discuss their case with their line manager/HoS in the first instance to determine whether exemption should be pursued. If so, the applicant will provide ADD with copies of their qualification certificate and programme handbook. An ADD reviewer will review the application for exemption and provide a decision. The lack of clarity in this situation means that individual cases will result in a variety of possible outcomes including full exemption, recommending an APCL claim, completing a RET Fellowship application or participation in all or part of PGCAP.

In some instances, an appointing panel, line manager or Head of School may feel that even though a new employee is exempt from the requirement to complete PGCAP they may still benefit from some degree of PGCAP study. In such instances, APCL or APEL (see subsequent sections of this policy) may be a more appropriate process.

 

2. Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning

A potential student who has already gained credit towards a PGCAP (or equivalent) qualification at another institution may apply to have their certificated learning accredited. A successful application for APCL can result in credit being awarded for specific courses within the programme and can, in some instances, lead to an applicant meeting their ECDP objective of PGCAP ‘completion’. In all instances, and without exception, evidence in the form of certificates, transcripts and relevant programme information will be required and the applicant will complete and submit Sections 1, 2 and 4a of the APL Form. This differs from ‘full exemption’ since credit can be awarded and continued study is possible.

Several distinct examples are outlined below:

  1. An applicant is required to complete PGCAP as part of the ECDP but has already completed a 60 credit PG Certificate in Academic Practice (or equivalent), aligned against Descriptor 2 of the UKPSF, at another university.

    The applicant will map attained learning outcomes against the intended learning outcomes (ILOs) of specific courses within the MEd AP/PGCAP at the University of Glasgow totalling a maximum of 60 credits. If successful, the applicant will have met the requirement to complete PGCAP as part of ECDP through the APCL process. In this instance, a PGCAP from the University of Glasgow will not be awarded but continued study towards PG Dip AP award is possible. In the case where the equivalence of a previous qualification is unclear (e.g. example 1.2) then this process is appropriate.

  2. An applicant has completed 40 credits of a PGCAP at another university but importantly, the applicant has not completed the qualification, nor have they obtained professional recognition. The applicant is required to complete PGCAP as part of the ECDP.

    In this case, the applicant can apply to have a maximum of 30 credits recognised by the University of Glasgow as this would ensure that their subsequent completion of PGCAP involves at least 50% of credits derived from courses studied at the University of Glasgow (a University of Glasgow regulation). The applicant will map attained learning outcomes against the intended learning outcomes (ILOs) of specific courses within the MEd AP/PGCAP at the University of Glasgow. The applicant will be required to complete some courses as part of PGCAP at Glasgow and the specific set of courses and quantity of credits required will be determined through the mapping of ILOs. NB it may not be possible to recognise the maximum 30 credits due to the specific mapping of ILOs.

  3. An applicant has a PGCE or another similar teaching qualification related to school education (e.g. primary or secondary education). The applicant is required to complete PGCAP as part of their early career development at the University of Glasgow.

    PGCEs or non-Higher Education based teaching qualifications are not considered grounds for APCL or exemption from PGCAP. It may be that some element of experiential learning can be drawn from the applicant’s experience as long as it relates to Higher Education, but automatic exemption through the APCL route would not be granted in this instance.

3. Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning

A potential student who has a substantial track record of a reflective, reasoned and innovative approach to teaching, course design, assessment and evaluation may already have sufficient experience to facilitate an application for accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL). Applicants for APEL are required to demonstrate, through submission of a document, learning gained through experience, and not simply evidence of the experience itself.

There are two independent processes for recognition of experiential learning; using experience to gain professional recognition (RET Experience Route) or using experience to gain academic credit to facilitate further study within ADD taught programmes (APEL). Any applicant who wishes to use their experience to gain exemption from the requirement to complete PGCAP as part of ECDP is required to gain Fellowship of RET (RET F). Any applicant who wishes to claim APEL as academic credit in order to pursue a qualification (PGCAP, PG Dip AP or MEd AP) is required to complete an APEL claim using Sections 1, 2 and 5a of the APL Form alongside a written APEL claim that outlines learning gained through experience.

Several distinct examples are outlined below:

  1. An applicant has significant experience in teaching and supporting learning, with a variety of roles across a number of institutions. They have never been required, nor had an opportunity to complete a PGCAP nor have they received professional recognition for their experience and practice. They are required, in their new role, to complete PGCAP as part of the ECDP but do not wish to engage with further learning opportunities.

    If appropriate, this applicant can meet their ECDP requirements by gaining RET Fellowship. RET F does not result in the award of academic credit nor the award of PGCAP; it is an alternative, experiential route to professional recognition for experienced staff who perhaps already exceed the grade 8 promotion criteria related to teaching and learning. RET Fellowship applications (around 3000 words in length) are supported by workshops offered by ADD and engagement with such workshops is strongly recommended and, in some instances, required.   

  2. An applicant has significant experience in teaching and supporting learning, with a variety of roles across a number of institutions. They have never been required, nor had an opportunity to complete a PGCAP nor have they received professional recognition for their experience and practice. They are required, in their new role, to complete PGCAP as part of the ECDP but they do wish to engage with further learning opportunities on PGCAP/MEd AP.

    In this instance, RET F is not appropriate. Since the applicant wishes to engage with further study and work towards a qualification then they must gain academic credit. In this instance the applicant would write an APEL claim (limited guidance is provided in the APL Form) mapped against the ILOs of specific courses within the MEd AP/PGCAP. Should the applicant wish to ultimately exit with a PGCAP award then a maximum of 30 credits may be claimed; a maximum of 60 credits can be claimed if PGDip AP or MEd AP are the intended goal. If successful, this APEL claim would ensure that awards of PGCAP, PG Dip AP and MEd AP are a possibility with further study.

  3. An applicant has significant experience in teaching and supporting learning, with a variety of roles across a number of institutions. They have never been required, nor had an opportunity to complete a PGCAP nor have they received professional recognition for their experience and practice. They are required, in their new role, to complete PGCAP and they have some concerns about differences between their experience and the UK/University of Glasgow context.

    In this instance, the applicant may well have sufficient experience to meet their ECDP requirement through a successful RET F application however they would like to learn about supporting teaching and learning in a UK/Glasgow context and gain access to support to overcome their concerns. In this instance, a partial APEL claim for academic credit may be most appropriate. The applicant would write an APEL claim (limited guidance is provided in the APL Form) mapped against the ILOs of specific courses within the MEd AP/PGCAP programme totalling a maximum of 30 credits. This would enable the applicant to complete the necessary additional credits and gain a PGCAP award. RET F would also be awarded on successful completion of PGCAP. Further learning opportunities within our taught programmes are a possibility.

    This route may be relevant for experienced teachers moving from a school setting to Higher Education where an APEL claim for EDUC5981 could be appropriate, provided they have sufficient Higher Education practice experience.

  4. An applicant has some experience in teaching and supporting learning in higher education and has completed the DAT HE course, gaining Associate Fellowship of RET in the process. They now want to progress to complete PGCAP, either as a requirement of ECDP or otherwise.

    In this instance, DAT HE can be recognised as APEL for EDUC5981. The applicant would have to submit evidence of DAT HE completion and Associate Fellowship of RET using the APL Form. The applicant would then normally begin PGCAP by completing courses EDUC5983 and EDUC5984.

 

Maximum APEL/APCL

It is not possible to enter into the MEd AP final dissertation year directly by recognising 120 credits as either APCL of APEL. This is deemed to be too substantial a proportion of the Masters qualification to be able to receive the specific named award from the University of Glasgow. In order to be accepted to study the dissertation year of the programme, participants must have successfully completed at least 60 taught credits from the University of Glasgow PGCAP or MEd AP programmes. Consequently, 60 credits is the maximum credit value for any APL claim.

In addition to this, the maximum credit value that can be recognised through APL and contribute to any University of Glasgow award is 50% of the taught credits for that award. This means that the maximum APCL/APEL credit recognition is 30 credits for the PGCAP award. This is of particular importance to potential MEd AP students who transfer between 30 and 60 credits but then elect to exit with PGCAP, as you may have to study additional courses than initially planned to meet this criteria.

 

Outcomes of APL Claims

All decisions about APL require the exercise of academic judgement. The primary consideration is whether the claimed prior learning is broadly equivalent to the learning that would otherwise have been assessed during the degree programme. This means that, in some instances, an APL claim will be unsuccessful, either in part or in whole, due to prior learning being judged as ‘not equivalent’.

 

All APL claims are judged through a rigorous process that is subject to quality assurance in a similar manner to our taught courses. Claims will be considered by at least two members of LEADS staff including the relevant programme coordinator for which recognition is claimed (or their designate where appropriate). We aim to provide a provisional decision on APL claims within 15 working days of receipt of a claim, however we must prioritise current students of our taught programmes and so it may take considerably longer for a provisional decision at certain times. Incomplete claims will not be processed, and non-standard claims may take longer to assess. Any claim for credit is ultimately subject to approval by the relevant Board of Examiners (who typically meet in May or September). In the case of an unsuccessful claim ADD will contact the applicant to provide advice on the best way forward.

APL and Professional Recognition: The Bridging Course

Where accredited prior learning (i.e. APEL or APCL) is accepted as partial exemption for academic credit on an academic credit-bearing programme then we must ensure that sufficient evidence of effective practice is presented to fully meet the requirements of the relevant category of RET Fellowship by the end of the programme. Evidence presented for the fellowship judgement must include authentication of practice.

 

Accordingly, to ensure that any APL claimant can be awarded RET Fellowship at the appropriate point in their studies, we require all APL claimants to complete a short bridging course. The bridging course ensures that evidence of effective practice is collated and reviewed by a member of the programme team who has current knowledge and understanding of the requirements of the relevant category of RET Fellowship. The bridging course also ensures that your transition into our programme is smooth and supported.

APL and Your Rights

Any person claiming APL is not a student of the University at the point of claiming. Accordingly, there is no right of appeal to any APL decisions. The reviewers’ decision is, in all circumstances, final.

In all cases, and without exception, all successful APL claimants begin the programme at an advanced stage, i.e. the typical ‘induction’ elements of the first courses do not form part of your study plan. In order to support all APL entrants to our programmes, all APL entrants must complete a short, non-credit bearing bridging course within the first semester of study.

This bridging course is equivalent in size to one typical ‘unit’ of learning on our courses and comprises induction information, activities related to higher education pedagogical theory, a short, assessed element and an opportunity for feedback on your initial engagement with learning on our programme. A teaching observation forms part of the assessed element of the bridging course. The observation would normally be completed during the first month of study, but in all instances must be completed during the first semester on the programme to enable ratification of the completion of the bridging course and the award of APL credit on your student record.

Any student who does not complete the assessed unit of the bridging course will not have their APL credit confirmed by the Board of Examiners and they will have to restart the programme without APL at the next opportunity.