02 SES 17 A, Pathways to Higher Education
On 20 December 2012, the Council of the European Union issued a “Recommendation on the validation of non-formal and informal learning”, which calls upon the individual member states to introduce relevant regulations by the year 2018. The Recommendation states the main elements of a validation process.
As a result of the promotion of lifelong learning processes over the past two decades, increasing educational policy focus has been placed on non-formal and informal learning as forms of learning that have equal status with formal learning. The impetuses set by the European Union enable a development to be traced in this regard and it is clearly discernible that strategic considerations at the macro level are increasingly leading to specific actions at the micro level. An orientation towards learning outcomes was key to the introduction of the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning in April 2008 and of the German Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning (DQR) in May 2013. Although the DQR’s eight reference levels have thus far “only” been aligned to qualifications acquired within the scope of formal learning processes, there are prospective plans that the outcomes of non-formal and informal learning processes will be included.
The amendment of the Brandenburg Higher Education Act (from April 2014) provides in the Federal State of Brandenburg access for qualified professionals without a higher education degree in special postgraduate courses at universities and universities of applied sciences. These projects focus on promoting lifelong learning and improving the permeability of the German education system.
Brandenburg University of Applied Sciences offers through the MasterPlan project, those without a bachelor's degree, but with a vocational qualification and professional experience the opportunity to obtain a master's degree in the pilot course of Security Management.
The MasterPlan project is conducted and supervised by the Centre for Permeability and Dual Courses at Brandenburg University of Applied Sciences. It is sponsored by the Ministry for Science, Research and Culture from the European Social Fund and the Federal State of Brandenburg between 2016 and 2018.
The research question is defined as following: How can be designed a manageable examination procedure for qualified professionals, without a higher education degree (normally, a first university degree), for access to special postgraduate master programs at universities and universities of applied sciences in the state of Brandenburg? This raises another question: Which valid competence measurement is possible?
In an entrance examination, the professionally qualified persons are to prove knowledge and skills that correspond to a suitable university degree, usually a bachelor's degree.
So, the focus of the project MasterPlan is to design a target-group-oriented procedure for the examination of the suitability for job-qualified applicants without a first university degree for a master's degree course and to test them in a pilot phase.
MasterPlan is a comprehensive pilot study and so, both quantitative and qualitative methods (interviews, questionnaires) are used. Regarding the literature review Work-based Learning (WBL) is a main track in this research project, which focuses on the relation between job and work. This, however, has its origin in higher education aiming at developing employees’ competences in a collaborative setup between companies, employees and higher education institutions. The concept is not unequivocal and explicitly defined, it is often used in different contexts with different meanings and there is a wide variation in the mix of elements included, but David Boud provides an operational attempt to describe the concept. WBL programmes meet the needs of the learners, contribute to the longer–term development of the organisation and are formally accredited as university course (Boud et al. 2001, p. 4). The employees are the focal point, since they are responsible for negotiating agreements with both the superior manager and the university (Boud et al. 2001). Here Boud definition difference from others (e.g. Fink et al, 2006; Thomassen, 2015) who account for a WBL model, which has it’s starting point from a company strategy and the company management identify the overall theme of the WBL course and negotiates the agreement. But most literature agrees that the WBL course is based on the experiences of the individual employees. The goal of a WBL course can be a degree or a national recognised qualification (Burns, 2003) or the evaluation of the WBL course can be an oral presentation, of the learning outcome, for colleagues within the company to establish some in-company knowledge sharing (Fink et al, 2006). Work is the curriculum (Boud et al 2001, p. 4, 7). Another difference is that the university academic staff to different degree are assigned as resource person’ (teachers, coaches, facilitators etc.) to the WBL course and to different extents contributes to the learning process. These theoretical discourses are the connecting framework to the project and where it would make a contribution to relevant topics and best practices.
In 2016 and 2017, within the framework of the project, in the pilot study course "Security Management (M.Sc.)" a procedure was developed to identify the professional and interdisciplinary competences that a bachelor's graduate should have in order to study successful in a master's degree course. Based on the identified competences an entrance examination for target group of qualified professionals without a higher education degree was designed. This is not an examination in the actual sense, but rather the applicants demonstrate their abilities for studying within a bridge semester. Preparatory courses for scientific work, as well as IT and network basics, prepare the students for their studies. The final exam is a subject-specific written work with a supplementary interview and oral examination. Enrolment in the Master's degree course is possible in the following academic semester after passing the entrance examination. The practical phase started in February 2018 with the participation of prospective students at the entrance examination in order to pass and test the theoretically defined procedure in the Summer Semester 2018. First results will be presented at conference and discussed together with participants.
Annen, S. (2012): Anerkennung von Kompetenzen. Kriterienorientierte Analyse ausgewählter Verfahren in Europa (Recognition of competences. Criteria-oriented analysis of selected procedures in Europe), Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung (Editor, Federal Institute for Vocational Training), Bielefeld: W. Bertelsmann Boud, D. and Solomon, N. (2001): Work-based Learning, A New Higher Education? St. Edmundsbury Press Burns, R. and Chisholm, C. (2003): The Role of Work-based Learning Methodologies in the Development of Lifelong Engineering Education in the 21st Century, Global Journal of Engineering Education (179-187) CEDEFOP: Terminology of European education and training policy. A selection of 100 key terms. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union 2008 – URL: www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/Files/4064_EN.PDF (viewed: 29/01/2018) CEDEFOP: European Guidelines on validation of non-formal and informal learning. Luxembourg 2009 – URL: http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/EN/about-cedefop/projects/validation-of-non-formal-and-informal-learning/european-guidelines.aspx (viewed: 29/01/2018) Colardyn, D.; Björnavold, J. (2005): The learning continuity: European inventory on validating non-formal and informal learning: national policies and practices in validating non-formal and informal learning. Luxembourg Erpenbeck, J. (2012): Der Königsweg zur Kompetenz („The royal road“ to competence), Münster: Waxmann Fink, F. and Nørgaard, B. (2006): The Methodology of Facilitated Work Based Learning, 10th IACEE World Conference on Continuing Engineering Education Fischer, M.; Becker, M.; Spöttl, Georg (Editors, 2011): Vocational Education and Training: Research and Practice, Frankfurt: Peter Lang Heyse, V.; Erpenbeck, J.; Ortmann, S. (Editors, 2015): Kompetenz ist viel mehr. Erfassung und Entwicklung von fachlichen und überfachlichen Kompetenzen in der Praxis (Competence is much more. Evaluation and development of technical and interdisciplinary competences in practice), Münster: Waxmann Schäffner, L. (Editor, 2014): Kompetentes Kompetenzmanagement (Competent Competence Management), Münster: Waxmann Thomassen, A. O (2015): Increasing Student Engagement and Retention Using Mobile Applications: Smartphones, Skype and Texting Technologies Facilitated Work Based Learning: A New Method for Continuing Education? Cutting-Edge Technologies in Higher Education, 6, 271–296 German Qualifications Framework Working Group (AK DQR): The German Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning (DQR) (2011) https://www.dqr.de/media/content/The_German_Qualifications_Framework_for_Lifelong_Learning.pdf (viewed: 29/01/2018)
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