Challenges in Higher Education
Recognition of prior learning and ECTS allocation
A round table discussion
On 25 April 2018, the Serbian Higher Education Reform Expert team organized a round table discussion to address some of the most challenging issues for the higher education system: recognition of prior learning and ECTS allocation. The event was attended by 40 representatives of HE community in Serbia, including management and teaching staff of state and private HE institutions (universities, faculties, colleges of applied studies) as well as the representatives of the Serbian Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development.
At the outset, Prof. Siniša Đurašević, HERE team member, opened the discussion by presenting the European inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning as a key pan-European tool, supporting Member States in the process of adopting recognition procedures. He argued that the inventory offered unique evidence on validation procedures used at the national, regional and local levels in Europe. Prof. Đurašević emphasized that EPL was a key element for Lifelong learning in higher education and made connections with the European Qualifications Framework for LLL and the European Credit Transfer System, which allows for the accumulation and transfer of credits with a perspective of lifelong learning. He also presented several cases of more advanced countries when it comes to RPL in Europe and pointed to how their legislative frameworks enable RPL and some practical procedures they have in place. Participants raised the question as to how /whether HEI in Serbia should accept students who wish to enter tertiary education who have not had “the expected formal education”, or - have some previous practical, working experience and knowledge which may render them “eligible” for recognition of LOs that are achieved “normally” after some time spent studying at regular university programmes.
Subsequently, Prof. Marija Kuzmanović, also a HERE team member, presented recent findings about ECTS allocation at HEI in Serbia, showed synergies between RPL and ECTS allocation and gave an overview of practices found in other European countries. She started by presenting findings of a small questionnaire distributed to both students and teachers which indicates that there are still some misconceptions about the purpose and the way of determining the number of ECTS credit points for particular subjects and modules. She mentioned also the latest version of the ECTS User’s Guide for HE (2015) and reminded the audience about some basic principles the ECTS allocation. She formulated several important recommendations for HE in Serbia, such as preparation of a methodological framework in form of a rulebook on ECTS methodology at each of the HEI, regular analysis to see what the current situation is with allocated ECTS at different HEIs, allocating ECTS to student work placements, conducting regular questionnaires of students and correcting the ECTS allocated to modules in order to optimize the workload student have done during their studies.