Using your experience

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Making your experience count

In some cases adults may be able to gain a place on a higher education level course e.g. Foundation Degree or Honours Degree, using the knowledge and skills gained through experience or previous qualifications.

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There are some courses that help adults prepare for higher level study that do not require formal qualifications on entry e.g. Access to Higher Education courses, Open University Access Modules and other Open University courses and some Foundation Years offered at some univerities.

However, adults may also be able to gain a place on a higher education level course using the knowledge and skills gained through experience or previous qualifications (not necessarily at Level 3). You may be able to use your previous work or learning experience to:

This process is often referred to as Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL).

APL is a formal process that recognises your previous experience and qualifications. Each institution will have a policy about their arrangements for APL and it is worth asking them about this early on if you think this might be a route for you. Find a college or university.

Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) is awarded for the learning that results from the experience and skills you have gained, not the experience itself. So you will have to prove what you have learnt - not just provide a list of your experiences.

You will also need to show that what you have learnt is relevant and at the correct level to the course you are applying for.

You can show your learning from all sorts of experience including:

  • your current job role
  • managing a business
  • running a local community group
  • voluntary work within the community
  • campaign working
  • involvement in sports and hobbies

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