Frequently Asked Questions

What is Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)?
PLA is an assessment system primarily used to assess the competencies that the mature applicant has acquired through formal and informal education and the world of work.

Why do we assess the experiential learning of mature applicants to the University?
The assessment of the adult learner’s experiential learning has three major purposes:

  1. The mature applicant who is qualified for admission having met the stipulated matriculation requirement, but is desirous of being awarded advanced standing in his/her course of study or in a module can translate and document in an academic portfolio his or her experiential learning into learning outcomes, and submit it for assessment for academic credit(s).
  2. The mature applicant who does not meet the stipulated matriculation requirements may be required to prepare an academic portfolio which documents his or her experiential learning, which is equivalent to the requisite subject (s) required for matriculation into a specified course of study. 
  3. The mature applicant who does not have the any of the stipulated matriculation requirements may write proficiency and or challenge tests to qualify for entry into course of study.

What is an academic portfolio?
An academic portfolio is a compilation of documentation demonstrating learning gained through prior learning experiences which match the outcomes of university education or matriculation requirements.

How much time is allowed to complete a portfolio?
The mature applicants are encouraged to complete their portfolios within two (2) months after the delivery of the Portfolio Development Module.

Does the University assist the applicants in the preparation of their portfolios?
Yes, the University provides assistance through the PLA Unit. The PLA Unit delivers a Portfolio Development Module over 2-days. Upon completion of the module the applicant is assigned a Portfolio Advisor who will mentor him/her throughout development of the portfolio.

How long is the portfolio assessment process?
The assessment process takes approximately two weeks. This is the members of the Panel enough time to individually assess the portfolio, then meet as a team to finalise the outcome of the assessment.

Are all applicants required to do the Portfolio Development Module?
No, if an applicant believes that the portfolio can be prepared without the benefit of instructions, he/she may do so, and upon completion submit it to the PLA Unit for assessment.

Is portfolio development the only method used to assess prior learning?
No, portfolio development is not the only method used to assess prior learning. The University uses a variety of methods to assess prior learning including the structured interviews, challenge tests, proficiency tests, demonstrations and presentations.

How will applicants/students be notified of the results of the assessment?
The PLA Coordinator will formally notify students/applicants of the outcome of the
assessment prior to their registration for the academic year and or semester.

Can I be awarded a degree based purely on my experiential learning?
No the University policy states that a student who has been awarded credits through PLA must complete at least 50% of his/her course of study credits as a student at UTech, including 60% of the upper division course of study credits, to be eligible for a University award. Therefore, the total PLA credit awarded cannot exceed these limits