Frequently Asked Questions

What is Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)?

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) is an internationally recognized system which allows for the identification, documentation, assessment and recognition of prior learning experiences. It allows tertiary institutions to determine whether an applicant, who does not meet the standard matriculation requirements, possesses the competencies required to enter a university course of study.

Why does UTech, Jamaica assess the experiential learning and/or post-secondary certification of applicants to the University?

UTech, Jamaica values the prior experience that applicants bring to the teaching/learning environment. Furthermore, we recognize that not all applicants meet the standard requirements for matriculation. Therefore, we assess their experiential learning and/or post-secondary certification in order to establish equivalence with the matriculation requirements of the University.

What is an academic portfolio?

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

What provisions are in place to assist applicants for taught graduate courses of study?

Applicants for taught graduate courses of study, who do not meet the standard requirements for matriculation, may enrol for portfolio development if they possess at least one of the following from a recognized/accredited tertiary institution:

  • A Diploma
  • An Associate Degree · Professional Certification[1] (at least 1 year)
  • A Bachelors’ Degree with less than the required GPA


  • At least five (5) years of relevant work experience

If the requirements above are met, they will be invited to enrol for the one-month Graduate Portfolio Development Process to develop a portfolio detailing at least five (5) years of current work experience relevant to the proposed course of study. They are expected to attend the Portfolio Development Seminar, follow the guidelines in the Portfolio Development Manual and submit their portfolios within four (4) weeks. They will also have access to the respective Programme Directors as well as the PLA Unit for additional support as they develop their portfolios.

Is there a cost for the Graduate Portfolio Development Process?

Yes, there is a cost which is determined by the University. The cost covers the one-month course which involves:

  • Portfolio Development Seminar (3-hours)
  • Portfolio Development Manual
  • Access to the Programme Director and the PLA Unit for support
  • Feedback on portfolio drafts
  • Assessment of the finished portfolio

How does an undergraduate student obtain module exemption via PLA?

The student may challenge a module by sitting a challenge examination or developing a portfolio. The student must first contact the PLA Unit for advisement and get approval from his/her Programme Director to challenge the module. Additional instructions will be provided thereafter.

Does the University assist the students in the preparation of their portfolios for module exemption?

Yes, the University provides assistance through the PLA Unit. The PLA Unit delivers a seven (7) hour Portfolio Development Workshop (over two weeks) and provides the student with a Portfolio Development Manual. The student will also be provided with one-to-one guidance as s/he develops the portfolio.

How long will the student have to develop his/her portfolio?

The student will have four (4) weeks following the Portfolio Development Workshop within which to submit his/her portfolio.

Is portfolio development the only method used to assess prior learning for module exemption?

No, portfolio development is not the only method used. The University also uses challenge examinations to assess prior learning.

What is a challenge examination?

The challenge exam is used at UTech, Jamaica to assess students’ competence in a specific module. Challenge exams are available to students who are able to demonstrate proficiency in module learning outcomes obtained through education or experience. A challenge examination is a three-hour paper which is administered during the normal examination period at the end of the semester.

Can I be awarded a degree based purely on my experiential learning?

No. Students are expected to complete at least fifty per cent (50%) of the course of study as registered students of the University, including sixty per cent (60%) of levels 3 and 4 modules, to receive a University award.


[1] Conditions apply