Convergence and Diversity, Centres and Peripheries
The Recognition of Prior Learning and Dutch Higher Education – At cross-purposes?
Education (and higher education in particular) is said to empower upward social mobility for people from lower social strata who cannot inherit privilege. However, sociological studies on stratification and mobility emphasise that education can also contribute to persistent inequality in educational opportunities (IEO) between generations because of its unequal distribution across strata (Shavit et al. 2008). Many countries have initiated policies to recognise prior and experiential learning to credit experiences acquired outside the classroom and enable otherwise ineligible individuals to access and complete higher education. Though strongly advocated in European circles, many question RPL’s ability to uphold the quality of the skills it purports to recognise and reward. By examining how a system – the Netherlands – where students are channelled into curricular pathways very early in life manages RPL, the chapter considers how ‘recognising experience’ can contribute to reducing inequality in higher education while upholding its quality and benefits.
Key words: recognition of prior learning (RPL), access, inequality in educational opportunities (IEO), tracking, pathways to higher education, lifelong learning (LLL)
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