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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Validation of non-formal and informal learning


8.Adult education and training

8.5Validation of non-formal and informal learning

Last update: 27 November 2023

Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning (VNFIL) is practiced, however inconsistently, across different sectors for access, programmatic credits, awards and for professional accreditation.

Ireland has the required technical architecture in place for the implementation of VNFIL in the context of education and training. The National Framework of Qualifications was established in 2003. Subsequently learning outcomes became the basis to both describe knowledge, skill and competence to be achieved within programmes of education and training by providers, and for the learning represented within awards/qualifications on the national framework. Quality assurance systems are in place within education and training. National guidelines for access, transfer and progression enable providers to put in place arrangements for the recognition of non-formal and informal learning. These guidelines directly respond to legislative requirements (Qualifications (Education and Training) Act 2012, Section 56.-3).

The legislation provides for recognition for credit accumulation, credit transfer and identification and formal assessment of the knowledge, skills or competence previously acquired by learners. Technically the legislation also enables QQI to make direct awards to learners, including with the assistance of providers. In practice, through the work of further and higher education and training providers and institutions, learners may achieve complete qualifications at every level of the Framework, partial accreditation in the form of minor awards, credits / exemptions within programmes, credits towards awards, or may obtain access to programmes on the basis of prior certified and/or uncertified learning in almost all fields of learning, with the exception of those precluded by law. However, the capacity to provide identification, documentation support, and assessment locally across all fields of learning and across all sectors is uneven, even within different departments of the same institution. QQI has hosted inaugural meeting of a national RPL Network, which aims to support practitioners and develop a forum whereby best practice may be shared.