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Recognition of Prior Learning Policy

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1     PURPOSE

To provide a framework for Macquarie University to apply a consistent, equitable and transparent approach to the Recognition of Prior Learning for the purposes of admission and/or Credit Transfer.

2     BACKGROUND

The University acknowledges that learning can take place outside of the formal education system, and that recognising Formal, Informal and Non-Formal learning supports an individual’s lifelong learning goals.

The overarching principle of this Policy is to preserve the integrity and distinctiveness of Macquarie University awards while facilitating an Applicant’s access to admission and Credit Transfer based on learning already undertaken. 

Within this principle, the University also aims to:

  • support mobility between institutions, and progression through levels of qualifications
  • support an individual’s lifelong learning goals by recognising prior learning and experiences
  • ensure consistency and transparency in the offering of admission and granting of credit transfer, and
  • establish a framework for credit transfer arrangements in formal articulation agreements between the University and other institutions.

This Policy complies with the requirements of the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) and the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA).

3     SCOPE

This Policy applies to all coursework Awards offered by Macquarie University.

This Policy governs all Articulation Agreements of the University.

4     DEFINITIONS

Commonly defined terms are located in the University Glossary. The following definitions apply for the purpose of this Policy:

Applicant: a person who is making an application for RPL under this Policy.

Articulation: a process that enables students to progress from a completed Award to another Award with predetermined admission and/or Credit arrangements. Articulation is formalised by an approved institutional agreement.

Award: the qualification resulting from successful completion of a specific Program of Study.

Block Credit: credit granted towards entire stages or components of a Program of Study (AQF Glossary of Terminology).

Credit: the value assigned for the recognition of equivalence in content and learning outcomes between different types of learning and/or Awards. Credit may reduce the volume of learning required to achieve a qualification.

Credit Transfer: a process that provides students with consistent Credit outcomes for units, components or entire stages of a Program of Study based on identified equivalence in content and learning outcomes.

Formal Learning: learning that takes place through a structured program of learning that leads to the full or partial achievement of an officially accredited qualification (AQF Glossary of Terminology)

Informal Learning: learning gained through work, social, family, hobby or leisure activities and experiences. Unlike Formal or Non-Formal Learning, Informal Learning is not organised or externally structured in terms of objectives, time or learning support. (AQF Glossary of Terminology)

Learning Outcomes: the expression of the set of knowledge, skills and the application of the knowledge and skills a person has acquired and is able to demonstrate as a result of learning (AQF Glossary of Terminology).

Level: the level of an Award reflects the relative complexity and/or depth of its program Learning Outcomes, and is expressed according to the various AQF levels (AQF Glossary of Terminology) The level at which a unit is taught indicates the amount of prior knowledge required to study it successfully.

Nested Award: a set of Macquarie University Awards approved by Academic Senate that forms stages within the highest Award, where each stage may operate as an entry and/or exit point. Nested Awards are designed to allow full Credit Transfer between the Macquarie University awards.

Non-formal Learning: learning that takes place through a structured program of learning but does not lead to an officially accredited qualification (AQF Glossary of Terminology).

Prior Learning: learning that is Formal, Informal and/or Non-Formal and which is evidenced, current and relevant, and has taken place:

  • outside of Macquarie University, and/or
  • within a completed Macquarie University Award.

Program of Study: the combination of units and components that must be satisfactorily completed to qualify for a Macquarie University Award.

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL): a process that involves assessment of an individual’s relevant Prior Learning (including Formal, Informal and Non-Formal learning) to determine eligibility for admission to an Award and/or the granting of Credit.

Specified Credit: Credit granted towards specific units or components of a Program of Study.

Unspecified Credit: Credit granted towards elective components or components at a particular level of a Program of Study (AQF Glossary of Terminology).  Unspecified Credit may be granted with, or without, subject area designation. Unspecified Credit may be granted with, or without, PACE, People or Planet unit classification.

Volume of Learning: a measure which identifies the notional duration of all activities required for the achievement of the Learning Outcomes specified for a Program of Study. Volume of Learning is expressed in equivalent full-time years.

5     POLICY STATEMENT

The University will establish a transparent, equitable and evidence-based process for the assessment and determination of Prior Learning.

The University may, at its discretion, set additional requirements for the Recognition of Prior Learning, including testing, interviews and portfolio submission.

The University reserves the right to charge a service fee.

The assessment of Prior Learning for the purposes of admission and/or Credit Transfer will be evidence-based, equitable and academically defensible (TEQSA Threshold Standards).  The precise nature of the evidence-based assessment may vary from discipline to discipline and assessments will be made on the merit of each individual case.

ADMISSION

The University assesses all applications for admission according to the Admission (Coursework) Policy.

The University will assess Prior Learning to determine eligibility for admission to an Award, provided the Prior Learning is current and relevant to the admission requirements of the Award.

Eligibility for credit towards a course does not guarantee admission to that Award.

Currency
Prior Learning that has been attained within ten years of the year of application for admission will generally be considered current.

Any changes to this timeframe for an Award or group of Awards will be determined by Academic Senate and recorded in the Schedule of Exceptions to Currency.

Relevancy
Prior Learning will be considered relevant where:

  • there is evidence to demonstrate that the Applicant has achieved a standard of learning comparable to the admission requirements of the Award
  • the Applicant can demonstrate competency and readiness for tertiary studies, and
  • there is a direct relationship to the admission requirements of the Award.

CREDIT TRANSFER

The University will assess Prior Learning for the purpose of granting Credit towards an Award, provided the Prior Learning is current and relevant to the Learning Outcomes of the Award.

Types of Credit
Block Credit, where the applicant’s Prior Learning is assessed as meeting the stated Learning Outcomes for a whole stage or component of their Program of Study. Block Credit may be used towards satisfying specific requirements, including entire stages, of a Program of Study. Block Credit would usually reduce the required Volume of Learning for a Program of Study.

Unspecified Credit without designation, where the applicant’s Prior Learning is assessed as being at an appropriate level and standard for an elective component of their Program of Study. Unspecified Credit can be used towards satisfying the elective component and general requirements of a Program of Study.

Unspecified Credit with designation, where the applicant’s Prior Learning is assessed as being at an appropriate level and standard for a component of their Program of Study, and equivalent to a recognised subject area offered by the University. Unspecified Credit may be used towards satisfying the elective component and general requirements of a Program of Study. Designation may be in the form of subject area designation and/or classification as a PACE, People or Planet unit.

Specified Credit, where the applicant’s Prior Learning is assessed as meeting the stated Learning Outcomes for a unit, units or component of their Program of Study. Specified Credit may be used towards satisfying the specific requirements, including required units, of a Program of Study.

Where possible, Specified Credit or Unspecified Credit with designation will be granted.

Currency
Prior Learning that has been attained within ten years of the date of application for credit will generally be considered current.

Any changes to this timeframe for an entire Award or a specific unit will be determined by Academic Senate and recorded in the Schedule of Exceptions to Currency.

Unspecified credit, with or without designation, that is granted for formal learning is not subject to a currency requirement.

Relevancy
Prior Learning will be considered relevant for the granting of:

Block Credit where there is evidence that:

  • the applicant has achieved a quality and standard of learning equivalent to tertiary studies
  • the Prior Learning is of an appropriate Level
  • the applicant can demonstrate the attainment of the Learning Outcomes of a whole stage of the Program of Study, and
  • the Prior Learning is assessed as equivalent in discipline content, depth and breadth.

Unspecified Credit without designation at a particular level where there is evidence to demonstrate that:

  • the applicant has achieved a quality and standard of learning equivalent to tertiary studies, and
  • the Prior Learning is of an appropriate Level.

Unspecified Credit with designation at a particular Level  where there is evidence to demonstrate that:

  • the applicant has achieved a quality and standard of learning equivalent to tertiary studies
  • the Prior Learning is of an appropriate Level, and
    • for subject area designation, the Prior Learning is equivalent to a recognised area of study offered by the University, or
    • for PACE, People or Planet unit designation, the Prior Learning is equivalent to the classification criteria for Macquarie University PACE, People or Planet units.

Specified Credit where there is evidence to demonstrate that:

  • the applicant has achieved a quality and standard of learning equivalent to tertiary studies
  • the Prior Learning is of an appropriate Level
  • the applicant can demonstrate the attainment of the Learning Outcomes of a specific unit or units, and
  • the Prior Learning is assessed as equivalent in discipline content, depth and breadth.

Minimum Requirements at Macquarie University
The maximum Credit Transfer allowed towards Awards will be determined by the requirement that the student complete a minimum amount of the Award at Macquarie University, where:

  • the amount is unique to the Award, having not been used towards the completion of another Award, and
  • the amount is made up of units or components undertaken as part of the student’s enrolment at Macquarie University.

The minimum amounts for various Award types are outlined in the Schedule of Minimum Requirements at Macquarie University which is a schedule to this Policy.

Amendments to the Schedule of Minimum Requirements at Macquarie University are approved by the Academic Standards and Quality Committee (ASQC).

Limits on maximum Credit as set out above do not apply to approved Macquarie University Nested Awards.

QUALITY ASSURANCE

The University will safeguard the quality of its awards by ensuring that:

  • the assessment of Prior Learning for admission to an Award is evidence-based and questions the applicant’s competency and readiness for tertiary study 
  • the assessment of Prior Learning for Credit Transfer is evidence-based, and ensures that the learning outcomes have been met
  • Credit granted on the basis of learning completed outside of Macquarie University is not recorded with a grade, and does not contribute to any grade point average (GPA)
  • Credit on the basis of prior Formal Learning is only granted for completed units where the final grade is a Pass, or equivalent grade, and higher
  • Grades of ‘concessional pass', 'terminating pass' or equivalent, from another higher education institution, will not be deemed to be successful completion for the purpose of credit, unless supported by additional information and approved on a case-by-case basis.
  • Credit granted by another institution on the basis of Prior Learning is not transferable to Macquarie University
  • standards for the assessment of Prior Learning are regularly reviewed and monitored by the Academic Standards and Quality Committee (ASQC), and
  • decisions are reviewed and monitored by the Faculty Standards and Quality Committee (FSQC).

APPEAL
A student may appeal a decision regarding the assessment of Prior Learning for the purpose of admission and/or Credit Transfer.

Grounds for an appeal are limited to procedural error or breach of procedural fairness.

Appeals will be managed through the Academic Appeals Committee, and are to be made in accordance with the Academic Appeals Policy.

6     RELEVANT LEGISLATION

 

7     KEY RELATED DOCUMENTS

Academic Appeals Policy / Website
Admission (Coursework) Policy
Recognition of Prior Learning Assessment Procedure
Development of Articulation and Related Credit Arrangements Procedure / Standard Request Template
Schedule of Exceptions to Currency
Schedule of Minimum Requirements at Macquarie University
Schedule of Equivalencies: Formal Learning for Undergraduate Programs

External:
AQF Pathways Policy
AQF Qualifications Framework Terminology
TEQSA Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards)

8     NOTES

8.1 Contact Officer

Chair, Academic Senate

8.2 Implementation Officer

 

8.3 Approval Authority / Authorities

Academic Senate

8.4 Date Approved

1 October 2013

8.5 Date of Commencement

For teaching sessions that commence after 1 January 2015

8.6 Date for Review

1 December 2017

8.7 Documents Superseded by this Policy

Recognition of Prior Learning (Interim 2014) Policy approved 12 December 2013
Credit for Previous Studies:  All previous policies, practices, booklets and websites.

8.8 Amendment History

6 April 2016 – Included that unspecified credit for formal learning is not subject to a currency requirement, resolved Academic Senate 15 December 2015 (Res 15-132) 
15 December 2015 – added RPL Assessment Procedure, approved Academic Senate 15 December 2015 (Res 15-132)
20 April 2015 – added Schedule of Equivalencies: Formal Learning for Undergraduate Programs, approved Academic Senate March 2015 (Res 15/11); alignment with new University Policy Framework
4 November 2014 – clarified minimum requirements at MQ (AS Res No14/192) and added reference to Schedule of Relative Equivalencies

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