Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) is an internationally recognised system of assessment designed to give academic credits to adult learners for learning they attained through work and life experiences.  It is available to persons whose documented work and life experiences provide evidence of knowledge equivalent to that required in a given academic course of study.  The assumptions underpinning PLA are that:

  • Significant learning occurs outside the classroom,
  • Adults acquire important knowledge, skills and abilities through various kinds of formal and informal study.

Knowledge and skills acquired through prior learning can be evaluated for credit by educational institutions. Practices, which require adults to repeat learning, which they have already mastered, are inefficient. What has become important is the development of techniques to assess and give recognition to prior learning. This need has fuelled the development of such techniques such as:

  • Portfolio assessment, which relies on the written documentation that support university level learning gained through life and work experiences
  • Challenge exams
  • Demonstrations, projects, essays or interviews, structured independent learning.

At UTech, the academic credits assigned for prior learning may be used for advanced standing or in undergraduate courses of study. The individual who benefits from advanced standing completes the regular course of study in a shorter time period and he/she is able to use the PLA academic credits to access courses of study to which he/she would not have been admitted. Prior Learning Assessment may also be used in the admissions process to help to broaden the opportunities for individuals who do not meet the traditional matriculation requirements of the University but can demonstrate equivalent knowledge and skills.