In Ireland, Validation of Prior Learning (VPL) or Recognition of Prior Learning (VPL) is a process whereby learning that has taken place prior to enrolment on a programme of study is explored, recognised and given value in the context of a destination award. In general terms this includes the recognition, evidencing and valuing of relevant and current formal, non-formal and informal learning. A broad aim of VPL in the Irish context is to encourage people to enter or re-enter formal education and to achieve qualifications through sensitive and accessible pathways. This is very much in keeping with the concept of lifelong learning defined by European Commission (2001), Behringer and Coles (2003), as “learning activity that is undertaken throughout life and improves knowledge, skills and competences within personal, civic, social and /or employment related perspectives. Thus the whole spectrum of learning; formal, non-formal and informal, is included as are active citizenship, personal fulfilment, social inclusions and professional, vocational and employment related aspects.” In considering VPL it is necessary to consider the broader concept of lifelong learning and how it pertains to the development of an individual and society at large.
(Extract from the Article's Introduction)