Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) is an internationally recognized system which allows for the identification, documentation, assessment and recognition of prior learning experiences.  It allows tertiary institutions to determine whether an applicant, who does not meet the normal matriculation requirements, possesses the competencies required to enter a university course of study.    

It also provides the opportunity for undergraduate students to accelerate through their courses of study without having to pursue selected modules for which they have already mastered the competencies.  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.

What has become important is the development of techniques to assess and give recognition to prior learning. In order to satisfy this need, UTech, Jamaica has developed 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
  •  Interviews.