The ALLinHE project, initiated and led by the Inholland University, began the 1st of October 2011 and should finish in May 2014. It gathers eight European countries (the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, France, Slovenia, Romania, Switzerland and UK) and one Asian country, Korea.
In a world where the global economy has become more competitive as the world has "become more flat" (Thomas L. Friedman), education has become more than ever valuable. People are encouraged to invest in their academic potential all throughout their lives, taking into account their prior learning. According to EU policy papers, this should also concern the underrepresented groups and non-traditional learners (migrants, special need learners, elderly, low socio-economic background) with regard to higher education because the European knowledge-economy needs more higher-educated participation from all. The European agenda on ‘The Social Dimension of Education and Training' states that recognizing prior learning and providing individualised support enhances participation of underrepresented groups and non-traditional learners in higher education (HE). This is grounded within the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET2020).
However, HE-institutions are still considering how to offer AND support lifelong learning perspectives and make use of the added value of methods for Validation of Prior Learning (VPL). Some universities develop VPL-practices as an answer to economic and labour market needs; others use VPL as a way to widen access and participation of target groups which are obstructed in getting access to HE. (see: EU University Association: Lifelong Learning Charter (2008), response to ‘Innovation Union’ strategy (2011)).
Reality therefore calls for action on making HE more accessible for underrepresented groups and non-traditional learners by focusing on flexible lifelong learning-strategies, opened up by a tailor-made VPL-approach.
- consortium partners
- target groups = the underrepresented groups and non- traditional learners in higher education (minorities, refugees, elderly people (50+), disabled, etc.)
- professionals working at the development and implementation of VPL in higher education. Professionals work as teachers, trainers, guiders, counsellors, curriculum- and human resource-managers, advisors on learning and working (authorities, social partners), assessors and intakers.
- stakeholders (decision makers at EU on a national, sectoral and local level) that can strengthen the knowledge infrastructure for the purpose of creating a dynamic framework and affordable services for lifelong learning in higher education through facilitating and supporting the usage of the multi-targeted VPL-model.
The outcomes and benefits of the project will be cascaded to these target groups by means of a valorisation strategy, based on concrete and accessible VPL-methodology (web-based and ‘on paper’). They will be supported by a network of professionals linked to this methodology, and empowered by their membership in the learning community.
INHOLLAND University of Applied Sciences engages in professional education and research. It is committed to maintaining close links with industry and therefore closely monitors changes in the global community. This enables Inholland to develop and offer a wide range of Bachelor and a number of Masters degrees. These primarily focus on developing professional competences which equip students for future employment.
JAMK University of Applied Sciences, located in Jyväskylä, is an internationally oriented and dynamic HE institution with 8000 students and about 800 employees. The Teacher Education College (TEC) of JAMK has its history back to 1962 in qualifying teachers for all professional fields in vocational and higher education. Furthermore, TEC has a leading role in providing continuing education for qualified vocational teachers in special needs education and in counseling and career guidance.
National Knowledge Centre for Validation of Prior Learning (NVR) collects, produces and disseminates information and documentation of existing knowledge on VPL. Furthermore, NVR focuses on developing methods for VPL at a national level in cooperation with national authorities and relevant partners within the educational system and in industries, organisations and third sector. The aim is also to provide an updated knowledge-base for VPL in Denmark.
The University of Northampton is a modern institute providing both undergraduate and post graduate education for approximately ten thousand students spread on two campuses. The university has developed a stand-alone business centre, the Sunley Management Centre and a number of research centres, incl. the Centre for Education and Research (CeSNER) within the School of Education. The School of Education provides initial teacher education, specialist training for teachers in the area of special educational needs, a masters degree program and provision for research students undertaking PhD studies.
CPZ-International is a small, private, not-for-profit research and development organization. Its main activities are to support the development and quality of education, employment services and labour market by implementing research, evaluations and analysis, and by developing new systems of education, assessment and certification. The Centre keeps up to date with the latest developments in science and technology in various fields. It is operating in European as well as in non-European countries.
The Institute for Research and Information on Volunteering (iriv) is a non profit and independent, private institution, with the aim to enrich the public debate and inform of volunteering issues by developing and publishing studies for non profit, public or private organisations and improving knowledge on the voluntary sector among the general public, the medias and any non profit, public or private organisation working or willing to work with the non profit sector.
ECAP Foundation is an adult education and research institution in Switzerland, established 1970 and promoted by the Italian trade union CGI. It aims at providing continuous training and development opportunities for the social and professional integration of immigrants living and working in the country. ECAP activities focus on the provision of language courses and vocational training, guidance and support in job search, research in the field of training needs and social impact of training, testing and evaluation of new training models and local development projects.
The National Institute for Lifelong Education (NILE) took its first step in 2008 toward the construction of a creative learning Korea as a national level organization for Lifelong Education. NILE makes its way towards the advent of lifelong learning and the establishment of a creative, reliable and hopeful society. In general, the major responsibilities of NILE are commissioned by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST).
Seoul National University (SNU) continues to set the standard of excellence in teaching, research and public services. It has about 16,000 undergraduate students and about 10,000 graduate students along with about 2,800 full-time faculty members. The mission of Seoul National University is to create a vibrant intellectual community where students and scholars join together in building the future. The graduate program of lifelong education housed in the department of education, college of education is the most competitive program among its kinds in the nation as well as in East Asia.
“The underlying principle of lifelong learning is that initial education is no longer enough for a lifetime social-economic career. It is more important to develop your competencies (skills, knowledge, attitude & ambition) throughout life by realising that 'your glass is already half filled' ” –European Centre for Valuation of Prior Learning
Europe faces big challenges qualitatively (need for updated competences) and quantitatively (shortage of labour,ageing of population, drop-outs, retention). Much research has been done on this, especially on the added value of the learning outcomes approach in EQF (Europe and National Systems) and in the validation of prior learning (VPL). At the end of 2010, the core group met and debated this notion and its problem-solving. This resulted in aiming at linking VPL to a practical focus on social inclusion of underrepresented and non-traditional target groups in HE with the rationale:
- Europe needs competitiveness and investment in especially HE-learning opportunities
- Top-down actions are in place (legislation, regulation, EQF, Guidelines VPL) but practical use (bottom-up methodology) fails
- HE should be the motor for Europe’s knowledge economy but lacks ‘an open door-policy’
- VPL can open up learning opportunities indiscriminately to all citizens but is strongly under-utilised. Linking VPL to HE-access for specific target groups, can be problem-solving by strengthening existing top-down facilities and bottom-up methodology
The project therefore focuses on turning VPL into a practical access point to open the doors of HE regardless of the background of the learner. By turning existing VPL-methodology into a multi-targeted VPL-approach, not only is its effectiveness developped, but the orientation of HE (customer-orientation, lifelong learning culture, professionalising staff) to learning opportunities for all, is stimulated.
Knowledge circulation is the strategy to create a sustainable bridge between the multi-targeted VPL-model and HE. Knowledge circulation implies both knowledge creation as well as using this knowledge. It implies that there is one ‘language’ between the competences described and used in VPL and in HE. The aim is to enlarge the benefits of both systems by closing the gap between VPL and HE, strengthening utilisation in organisations. In this way the output of the key-factor, ‘knowledge’, creates a link and translatability is implicitly and explicitly strengthened.
Korea also has a need for an HE-competent labor force. Korea has an operational LLL-system for accrediting all forms of formal (national qualifications) learning and non-formal (sectoral certificates) education: organized by the Academic Credit Bank System. Therefore, Korea’s participation in the project is to strengthen the European emphasis by incorporating Korea’s expertise to link all education-based learning outcomes into the VPL-model—to be developed and tested during the project. The result and impact will be creating knowledge with a competence-based data bank for all credits accumulated during different processes of learning resulting in a EU-based Credit Bank System.
In the long-term, what will sustain the outcome of the project is the quantity of active users from the underrepresented and non-traditional learners that will effectively use the developed VPL-approach to (re)enter HE and enhance personalized, formative or diploma oriented learning opportunities.
This depends on the success of each partner to recruit an active network, as well as the growth of the number of professionals and stakeholders involved. They are involved through self-generating activities within learning communities, and the relationship between the project-outcomes and the policies of the organizations of the stakeholders, universities/higher education institutions, and target group organizations.
Starting a Raising Awareness Campaign valorizes the project’s products and safeguards their sustainability thanks to the stakeholders themselves, and through the learning communities. The campaign builds on to the number of target groups and addresses them by presenting and debating the project’s findings within the partner countries. Focus is on the ‘worlds’ of learning (education & training), working (HRM, voluntary work and social partners), and guidance.