Frequently Asked Questions

What is Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)?

PLA is an assessment system used to assess the competencies that applicants or students have acquired through formal and informal education and the world of work. 

Why do we 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 table.  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

They will then be required 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 for additional support as they develop their portfolios.

Is there a cost for Portfolio Development for graduate matriculation?

Yes, there is a cost which is determined by the University.  The cost covers the:

  • Portfolio Development Seminar
  • Portfolio Development Manual
  • Assessment of the 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.

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.

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