Recognition of Prior Learning - From Peer to Peer



  • Barbara Birke, Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria
  • Grace Edge, Technological Higher Education Association, Ireland
  • Pernilla Hultberg, University of Gothenburg


AQ Austria has been working on the topic of recognition and crediting of non-formally and informally acquired competences since 2014, starting with an inventory of the legal basis, followed by the phase of developing the basis for the design of recognition and crediting procedures together with several higher education institutions. The last major project phase in Austria to date was dedicated to the implementation of procedures at Austrian higher education institutions in a project designed with a focus on counselling, which was completed at the end of 2020. In parallel, AQ Austria was a project partner in the Erasmus+ project Recognition of Prior learning in practice (RPLiP), which was also completed at the end of 2020.

For all project phases and projects, cooperation with higher education institutions, interest groups, ministries and other quality assurance agencies was fundamental to the success of the work and the usability of the results, both nationally and internationally.

At the national level, the RPL Network Austria was founded in June of this year, which is coordinated by AQ Austria and which will also have an external presence at the end of 2021. At the international level, a network of national networks is currently being established, the foundation of which AQ Austria would like to build on the RPLiP project and expand in the course of the next few years. A project proposal for this will be submitted in the current Erasmus+ call.

At the conference, AQ Austria would like to present the basic ideas and structure of our networks and invite already existing national RPL networks from other countries to express their interest in participating in the future international RPL-network.

Barbara Birke

Head of department for analyses and quality enhancement, Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria (AQ Austria)
Barbara Birke has been head of AQ Austria's "Analyses and Quality Enhancement" department since 2018.  She has been in charge of studies and system analyses at AQA (Austrian Quality Assurance Agency) since 2004 and at AQ Austria since 2012. Her current work focuses on the quality development of RPL procedures as well as on studyability at Austrian universities. She studied commerce at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration and worked at the Institute of Industrial Sciences from 1994 to 2004 as head of the "Higher Education Economics" department.

Grace Edge

National RPL in Higher Education Project Manager, Technological Higher Education Association, Ireland
Grace Edge is the Project Manager for the Irish 'National RPL in Higher Education' Project. Working with and on behalf of all 19 publicly-funded higher education institutions, Grace is passionate about the creation of meaningful lifelong-learning opportunities and developing collaborative, human-centred solutions to address higher education's challenges. She has worked in a variety of roles across Irish higher education, including leading a number of multi-institutional change initiatives.

Pernilla Hultberg

Coordinator for Complementary programs and validation, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Over twenty years of experience from work with recognition of prior learning (RPL) and validation at University of Gothenburg. That mission is closely linked to the work with educational programs for foreign academics, where recognition of knowledge, skills, and competence in an important part in the way to obtain a relevant job in the new country.
Over the years there has been local, regional, and national initiatives concerning RPL. Some has involved several sectors, others, like a big national RPL-project that took place in 2017-2018 focused solely on higher education institutions (HEIs). Within that project Pernilla was a project manager for a regional network, consisting of seven HEIs in the west part of Sweden. After the end of the project, the network has continued its joint work. The network has developed a method material, based on the European guidelines for RPL, that describes the point with RPL, the phases in a validation process, roles and responsibility, ethics, assessment methods etc.
The focus for the network is to work more alike, though each HEI is its own autonomous authority unit. There is also an agreement for cooperation, signed by the Vice-Chancellor of the universities, to support a long-term cooperation. This regional network is also part of a National Validation Network within HEIs.

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