Qualifications Systems

Bridges to Lifelong Learning

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In the quest for more and better lifelong learning, there is a growing awareness that qualifications systems must play a part. Some countries have started to realise that isolated developments in qualifications standards lead to uncoordinated, piecemeal systems. After reviewing the policies and practice in fifteen countries, the authors present nine broad policy responses to the lifelong learning agenda that countries have adopted and that relate directly to their national qualifications system. They also identify twenty mechanisms, or concrete linkages, between national qualifications systems and lifelong learning goals. The overall aim of this book is to provide these mechanisms as a tool for governments to use in reviewing their policy responses to lifelong learning. Evidence suggests that some mechanisms, such as those linked to credit transfer, recognition of prior learning, qualifications frameworks and stakeholder involvement, are especially powerful in promoting lifelong learning.

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Putting Mechanisms to Work Supporting Policy Responses

Having considered countries’ policy responses for developing lifelong learning via qualifications systems (Chapter 2), the discussion moved on to examine the various influences on stakeholder behaviour and identified 20 mechanisms that could improve understanding of how those policy responses work and possibly render them more effective (Chapter 4). While the rationale for policy responses may vary and their effects might not be fully understood, the mechanisms have been identified on the basis of research evidence of their effects on stakeholders in the qualifications system. This chapter looks more closely at the dynamic connection between mechanisms and policy responses. In Section 5.1 the quantitative and qualitative evidence from Chapters 3 and 4 are linked together in an effort to explain discrepancies. Each policy response is then examined by considering the mechanisms that might support it (Section 5.2). An attempt is made to judge the potential strength of influence each mechanism has on relevant policy responses. Short case studies reveal how countries have fared with the practical application of some mechanisms. Section 5.3 offers a kind of “useful” ranking of mechanisms based on the power and versatility of each.

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