As the prospect of a regulated animal training and behaviour sector draws nearer many people are examining their qualifications gathered over time and realise that there may be gaps that need filling. Over the last 12 months Compass has received an unprecedented level of registrations for the level 5 and 6 courses it offers, we have even taken on an extra tutor to manage the demand and may still need yet another one.
Every single week we get asked about credit for prior learning based on previous courses undertaken with other course providers, typically people want to go straight onto the level 6 programme based on their completion of a level 5 course elsewhere. Credit for prior learning can be awarded but there are strict requirements that need to be satisfied and many are disappointed that their previous investments cannot be recognised.
Unfortunately it is not as simple as ‘I have done a level 5 course with someone else so your level 6 is the next step’, there are four key conditions that must all be met before that is the case and evidence will be requested.
Firstly the prior learning must be fully accredited by an Ofqual regulated awarding body or be an Ofqual regulated qualification and most are not. Some applicants’ courses are not accredited at all and others are certificated by non-qualifying organisations. Examples of certifying organisations that are not regulated by Ofqual include, CPD UK, UK Rural Skills and Complementary Medical Association but there are more.
Secondly the level of the course must be the same or higher than the one for which credit is sought. The level is determined by the awarding body and is based on a number of criteria including the technical nature of the course, the learning outcomes and the assessment criteria. If it is not fully accredited as above the level cannot be guaranteed.
Thirdly the length of the course or amount of time specified by the awarding body must be equal to the one for which credit is being sought. The length of a course is expressed in hours as Total Qualification Time (TQT), Guided Learning Hours (GLH) or sometimes as Credits where 1 Credit equals 10 hours of study.
Finally, the syllabus or the elements of the subject matter for which credit is sought must closely match the syllabus of the course being applied for. This is not done by simply comparing module titles, it is a case of matching learning outcomes and some providers are not keen to release this information for copyright reasons (some courses do not even have any).
Regrettably we are unable to give credit for courses that do not meet these requirements as being compatible with Compass provision. In the case of level 5 and 6 courses that are delivered by private course providers that fall into this category may be accepted as evidence that the student is able to enter the Compass Level 5 courses. Typically partial credit is granted automatically to qualified vets and some vet nurses or students with relevant degrees.
Some applicants wish to claim credit for experience and in Higher Education it is possible for this to be recognised through a process known as Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) but this is a time consuming process and usually expensive process and we do not have the resources to support such applications.