This is a new college application tool that recognises learning gained through life and work experiences that enables advanced entry to third level programmes. The Connacht-Ulster Alliance partners (CUA), who are seeking re-designation as Technology University, have also developed an open online course for higher education staff in Ireland to develop their understanding of Recognising Prior Learning (RPL) and assessing applicants.
The toolkit includes an information website and an online RPL application tool for candidates looking for access or advanced entry to a higher education programme. In addition, a free open online course has been developed for Higher Education staff seeking professional development in RPL assessment skills and supporting RPL applicants effectively.
In January 2016, the CU Alliance was awarded 49,000 euro from the National Forum for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching to deliver a 6 month project on RPL development. GMIT is leading this project with partners IT Sligo and Letterkenny IT. This project involved developing the open online educational course, further technical enhancements to the CUA RPL online application tool and sharing the My Experience RPL assessment toolkit with staff in the CUA, Waterford IT and DCU.
Project manager, Dr Carina Ginty, says “The need to develop the My Experience RPL Toolkit arises from a number of factors including the fact that lifelong learning participation rate is just 7.3% in Ireland compared to the EU average of 10.5%. With regards to the employed sector, it is just 6% participation in Ireland, compared to the EU average of 11%. Therefore, there is great potential to promote RPL pathways to higher education among the experienced workforce in Ireland that are seeking to upskill and gain a formal qualification”.
“Further challenges identified, include the lack of awareness that Recognising Prior Learning (RPL) actually exists or candidates are unsure how to build a portfolio of evidence. Our RPL toolkit helps address these issues and it will create more opportunities for mature learners to gain advanced entry to a programme at GMIT, IT Sligo and LyIT.”
As a result of the National Forum funding, DCU and WIT signed up to gain access to the My Experience RPL Toolkit to activate it in their own institute. Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) clinics on the My Experience RPL Toolkit will run in GMIT, IT Sligo, WIT and DCU for staff from March 14th-16th.
Candidates who are interested in applying for advanced entry to a programme at GMIT, IT Sligo and LyIT are encouraged to visit the website at myexperience.ie and seek advice from the institute on making an application through the My Experience online tool. Some recent student success stories who completed the My Experience application tool include Lucy Bracken from GMIT and Alan Lowe from IT Sligo.
IT Sligo Student, Alan Lowe, explains “While I did not meet the standard entry criteria for an online programme at IT Sligo, I was made aware of the www.myexperience.ie website and experiential learning could form part of a successful application. So I reflected on my membership of numerous professional and trade association committees and regular attendance at conferences and seminars and I realised I had developed knowledge and skills associated with a Level 8 Civil Engineering degree. This enabled me to gain advanced entry to the Level 9, Certificate in Road Maintenance Engineering and Network Management programme at IT Sligo.”