PEARL - Part time Education for Adults Returning to Learn - Using My Experience Skip to content

Advise me about...... Using my experience

As a mature learner you will no doubt have a range of skills, experience and knowledge achieved through previous learning or through experience gained at work, or in your home or social life. Recognising the value of your previous experience may help you gain entry to programmes for which you would not normally meet the entry requirements. You may also find that your experience allows you exemption from certain elements of a higher education course.

Applying for courses

Don’t be put off if you do not meet all the entrance requirements for a course. You may find that learning providers are often more flexible about the qualifications they accept from mature learners, especially if you bring relevant work experience or can demonstrate that you have undertaken learning that will help you succeed on the course. Find out directly from learning providers as to whether they will consider your application without having to undertake any preparatory learning.

Accreditation of prior learning

If you are interested in a HE course and have previous experience directly relevant to the syllabus you intend to study then you may wish to find out more about Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL). Many universities and colleges recognise that mature learners enter their higher education programme with knowledge and skills developed through a range of professional, vocational and community contexts. As a result, a university may offer you the opportunity to enter a higher education programme at the level appropriate to your previous learning and experience. This means that you may be exempted from certain parts of a course you have applied for. There are two types of APL.

Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning

This allows any previous study which has already been awarded and certificated to count against a higher education award you now wish to pursue. For example, you may have previously been awarded credit for other course such as Open University Modules or as part of HNC/HND or Foundation Degree programmes. You will need access to certificates and you will need to go through a process with your university to ensure the learning you have achieved meets the requirements of your new programme. This is sometimes referred to as credit transfer

Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning

This is where credit can be gained for knowledge, understanding and skills gained through your experiences in a work, voluntary, or leisure environment. You will need to demonstrate what you have learned, for example by submitting something such as a portfolio of evidence or written statement. You will need to show that the learning you are demonstrating is the same level as the you would have been expected to achieve as part of your programme of study.

What’s involved in APL?

If you are interested in APL then you will need to find out from a learning provider what process is in place and get some advice about whether it is right for you. Some institutions have APL advisers you can contact, their details are usually listed on any website or prospectus. It may be helpful to start putting together evidence of any prior learning in a portfolio. This might include any certificates or transcripts from previous awards, examples of your own work activities, such as documents you have written,and information from others about you, such as statements from your employer. This will help you talk to a learning provider about your existing experience and get you started on the APL process if you decide that is suitable.

Useful links

Useful information for mature learners interested in gaining access to HE:
Mature student tips on UCAS

Information about the credit transfer process available at The Open University:
Credit transfer on The Open University website

Useful Links

Useful information for mature learners interested in gaining access to HE:

Mature student
tips on UCAS

Information about the credit transfer process available at The Open University:

Credit transfer on
the OU website