Recognition of prior learning and learning through work

Recognition of prior learning (RPL) promotes the smooth progress of studies and students’ motivation. You do not have to study what you already know and can focus on skills that you need to develop. It is also possible to acquire required skills through work experience while you study. Recognition of prior learning is possible in Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes.

Prior learning acquired in different environments is valuable and can be demonstrated through the RPL process. Figure 1 explains concepts related to the recognition of prior learning.

FIGURE 1. Concepts of recognition of prior learning

The RPL (AHOT in Finnish) process is always initiated by the student. Usually this is done during the first PSP (HOPS in Finnish) discussion, but it is also possible to apply for recognition of prior learning at a later stage. Together with the mentor teacher, you draft an RPL plan. The plan becomes more detailed when you perform a self-assessment of your skills and competence in comparison with the learning outcomes of the degree programme and, possibly, individual courses. Recognition of prior learning on the basis of documents and certificates is confirmed by the head of the degree programme.

Recognition of prior learning on the basis of a demonstration of skills requires drafting a demonstration plan with the teacher of the course in question.

Credit transfer

Credit transfer means that students can replace studies in their degree programme with prior studies completed elsewhere. It is also possible to include studies completed elsewhere in the degree programme, providing that they are relevant with regard to the programme’s learning outcomes. These studies may be completed before or during enrolment in the current programme.

Demonstration/ recognition of prior learning

An upper secondary qualification is required for being eligible to apply to a university of applied sciences. Therefore, competence associated with the upper secondary qualification cannot be directly recognised as prior learning. Prior learning must always be demonstrated by the student. In addition to studies, you may have acquired competence and skills at work, during training provided by your employer or in connection with your leisure activities. In these cases, too, you may demonstrate your prior learning.

You and your teacher together decide the demonstration method. Frequently used methods include portfolios, reports, exams, self-assessments and discussions, teaching sessions and oral presentations. The evaluation criteria and grading scale are the same as for other studies. Once you have demonstrated that your prior learning meets the learning outcomes, your teacher or other representative from the degree programme grants recognition of prior learning and it is recorded in the study register. Second attempts to pass or improve the grade are not allowed.

Furthermore, competence acquired through previous work experience can replace practical training. Contact practical training co-ordinators to discuss this option and the demonstration method.

Learning through work

If you are working while you study you may acquire competence that meets the learning outcomes of your degree programme, and you may be able to earn credits for it. Learning through work experience is a process in which practice and theory meet, even though the usual method in higher education is to learn the theory first and then apply it to practice.

At work you gain individual experience in the area being studied. In order to be able to demonstrate the learning through work process, you must thoroughly document your learning and skills. After the evaluation you can be granted recognition of prior learning.

During your studies, if you acquire work experience-related competence that meets the learning outcomes of a course included in your programme, contact your mentor teacher.