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Denmark has an arrangement for recognition of skills gained outside the formal education system, including volunteering activities. The arrangement is used in vocational adult education and continuing training. Furthermore, two systems exist where competences gained outside the formal education system may be beneficial for the applicant of admission to higher education. The two systems cannot directly convert the volunteering competences into ECTS points.
The relevant systems are:
- Prior learning assessment (Realkompetencevurdering)
- Dispensation to apply for admission with special permission
- Quota 2
Prior learning assessment (realkompetencevurdering) is used in vocational adult education and continuing training. In Denmark, the validation of prior learning is regulated by:
‘Act on Change of Different Laws within the Area of the Ministry of Education (Lov om ændring af forskellige love på Undervisningsministeriets område (Udbygning af anerkendelse af realkompetence på voksen- og efteruddannelsesområdet, Lov nr. 556 af 06/06/2007).
Act on AVU and recognition of prior learning in AVU and HF (LBK nr 603 af 23/05/2019)
Ministerial order on prior learning assessment in AVU (BEK nr 453 af 10/06/2008)
Ministerial order on AMU (BEK nr 1795 af 27/12/2018)
Act on vocational education and training programmes (LBK nr 1395 af 28/09/2020).
Academy programmes and Diploma programmes within higher VEU:
Act on higher education for adults (LBK nr 1038 af 30/08/2017)
Ministerial order on prior learning assessment in higher education for adults (BEK nr 8 af 10/01/2008)
The Ministry of Children and Education is top-level authority of competence assessment in general adult education (AVU), higher preparatory single subject course (HF), vocational training programme (AMU), and vocational education and training for adults (EUV). The National Agency for Education and Quality is authorised to handle complaints about prior learning assessment as well as to handle quality assurance mechanisms.
The Ministry of Higher Education and Science is top-level authority for competence assessment in Academy and Diploma programmes. The Qualification Board under the authority of the ministry, is responsible for processing complaints regarding prior learning assessment in AVU and Academy and Diploma programmes.
The system of assessing prior learning is highly decentralised, which implies that the education providers establish how PLA is performed and how the applicants are assessed.
The opportunity to dispense from the formal admission requirements in Academy Profession programmes and in the professional bachelor education programme is regulated in the ministerial order on admission to Academy Profession programme and Professional bachelor education programme (Adgangsbekendtgørelsen, BEK nr 152 af 26/02/2020)
The opportunity to dispense from the formal admission requirements in university programmes is regulated in the ministerial order on admission to university education programmes (Adgangsbekendtgørelsen, BEK nr 153 af 26/02/2020)
The Ministry of Higher Education and Science is the top-level authority. The education providers are responsible for assessing the applicants' qualifications.
The legal framework for quota 2 admission in Academy Profession programmes and in the professional bachelor education programme is regulated in the ministerial order on admission to Academy Profession programme and Professional bachelor education programme (Adgangsbekendtgørelsen, BEK nr 17 af 19/01/2020)
The legal framework for quota 2 admission in university programmes is regulated in the ministerial order on admission to university education programmes (Adgangsbekendtgørelsen, BEK nr 23 af 09/01/2020)
Ministry of Higher Education and Science is top-level for Quota 2. The Danish Agency for Science and Higher Education is responsible for establishing the number of study places in each quota. The education providers are responsible for establishing the criteria for assessing the quota 2-applicants' competences.
Prior learning assessment (realkompetencevurdering) is used in vocational adult education and continuing training. The assessment entails assessing and recognising adults’ real competences. Real competences include everything a person can do, whether or not the person has a certificate and regardless of where the person has learned it, be it in the formal education system, the non-formal one or in any other setting.
The legal framework entitles each individual the right to have his/her prior learning experiences validated in relation to specific goals of the following adult education and continuing training programmes:
- General adult education (AVU);
- Higher preparatory single subject course (HF);
- Vocational training programme (AMU);
- Vocational education and training for adults (EUV);
- Short-cycle post-secondary adult education (Academy programmes); and
- Medium-cycle post-secondary adult education (Diploma programme).
Prior learning assessment in AVU and HF
In prior learning assessment in AVU and HF, applicants' skills and competences are assesses in relation to the education objectives of the specific education programme. The assessment is based on documentation provided by the applicants and, when necessary, assignments/tests set by the education providers. The assignments/tests should document the applicants' competences and could be in the form of interviews, observations and tests, and the duration is maximum four days. The assessment process and methods must be published on education providers' website.
When an applicant's skills and competences meet all the established objectives for a specific subject at a specific level of education, the education provider issues a competence certificate for the subject in question. The competence certificate equals a single subject certificate without marks.
When an applicant's skills and competences partially meet the established objectives of a specific subject, the education provider issues a competence certificate for part of the subject in question. The competence certificate can be used to obtain credit in AVU or in HF in the form of a shortened or an adjusted education programme.
Quality assurance: The prior learning assessment must be led by teachers with competences to teach in the specific subject. The education providers must document the assessment process in case of eventual complaints. The education providers’ decisions regarding PLA in AVU and HF must be in writing, and the education providers must state its reasons for rejection or recognition. Furthermore, the decisions must include complaint instructions, and the applicants have the opportunity to file a complaint to the Ministry of Children and Education.
Prior learning assessment in AMU
Prior learning assessment in AMU is individually planned prior to the applicants' eventual admission. However, the education providers may organise PLA in classes as a consecutive or split-up procedure.
The education providers establish which education programme(s), education objectives or single subjects should function as the target and measure for the competence assessment.
The applicants provide relevant documentation for the total of skills and competences, which can include voluntary activities and non-formal learning.
The PLA in AMU may lead to:
- Personal education plans
- Certificate of competences for parts of an AMU education programme (kompetencebevis)
- Shorten AMU programmes
- Certificate of education for a full AMU programme (AMU-bevis)
Quality assurance: According to the ministerial order on AMU (Bekendtgørelse om arbejdsmarkedsuddannelse, BEK nr 1795 af 27/12/2018), the National Agency for Education and Quality is responsible for developing and updating quality assurance measures. The AMU education providers are obliged to perform systematic quality assurance of their activities, including prior learning assessment. The education providers are obliged to initiate evaluations where learners and the companies, where the learners are employed, evaluate the activities. The education providers are obliged to follow up on the evaluations. Learners have the opportunity to file a complaint to the National Agency for Education and Quality.
PLA in Vocational education and training for adults (EUV)
Vocational education and training for people above 24 years of age is organised in the education programme, Vocational Education and Training for Adults (EUV). Prior Learning Assessment is mandatory in EUV. The prior learning assessment consists of both a general, standardised assessment as well as an individual assessment of other competences, for instance gained through non-formal learning or voluntary activities. The objective of the prior learning assessment is to schedule the optimal education programme for the students at the right level and to avoid double education.
The prior learning assessment in EUV is used to establish personal education plans indicating how much school-based training and apprenticeship the personal education plans should consist of in order to fulfill the objectives of the education programme.
The PLA may lead to:
- Certificates of competences for parts of an education programme
- Shortening of an education programme
EUV-students receive documentation for recognised competences. The education providers are obliged to explain their decisions in case of partial recognision or rejection of recognition. The EUV-students are entitled to make a statement in order for the decision of partial recognition or rejection of recognition is valid.
The education providers are obliged to have a system of quality assurance and self-assessment. Based on a yearly self-assessment, the education providers are obliged to develop follow-up procedures, which establish the needed changes, targets, strategies and a time schedule.
Furthermore, EUV-students have the opportunity to file a complaint about the PLA to the education providers. The education providers process the complaints, inform the students about the education providers' positions hereafter the studens have the opportunity to make a further statement before the education providers send the complaint to the National Agency for Education and Quality.
PLA in short-cycle post-secondary adult education (Academy programmes) and Medium-cycle post-secondary adult education (Diploma programme)
Applicants of PLA send documentation of competences to the education providers. The education providers assess whether an individual prior learning assessment is needed. In case of an individual assessment, the education providers must employ methods, which demonstrate relevant competences, for instance interviews, assignments and tests.
PLA may lead to:
- Admission to programmes
- Certificates of education for full programmes
- Certificates of competence for parts of programmes
Quality assurance: The education providers are obliged to:
- Publish on their website methods and procedures used in PLA
- Assure that the person in charge of PLA has the necessary competences
- Inform and guide the applicant before and after the PLA
- Carry out quality assurance and develop methods for PLA
- Evaluate the results of PLA and perform the necessary follow up
- Decisions of PLA must be in writing and must include complaint instructions
In higher education, dispensation to apply for admission with special permission can be used by the education institutions. If an education institution estimates that an applicant’s skills and qualifications meet the formal admission requirements, the application is included in the formal admission process together with all other applications.
In some higher education programmes, the number of qualified applicants exceeds the number of student places, and admission is restricted. Student places are divided in quota 1 and quota 2, and the number of student places in each quota is established by the Danish Agency for Science and Higher Education (Styrelsen for forskning og uddannelse) based on recommendation from the education provider.
Applicants for quota 1 are enrolled based on their average mark, whereas applicants for quota 2 are enrolled based on an individual assessment. Relevant admission requirements for quota 2 depend on the specific education programme and are established by the education providers. Voluntary activity may be relevant.
Applicants for admission in quota 2 or admission with special permission have the possibility to appeal against the education providers' decisions. The applicants must file the complaint to the education providers that comment on the complaints. The applicants are entitled to comment on the statements from the education providers before the complaints are sent to the Danish Agency for Science and Higher Education (Styrelsen for Forskning og Uddannelse).
In all three systems, applicants are responsible for providing the necessary documentation of skills and competences. See section 6.4 for a detailed description of the specific competence files that help young people to put their skills and competences into words. Furthermore, tests and interviews are often used in the assessment of competences gained in non-formal learning.