Converting RPL into academic capital: lessons from Australian universities
Recognition of prior learning (RPL) requires an assessment of the equivalence and transferability of learning acquired in one context to another. However, this study’s examination of the institutional policies and practices of three Australian universities reveals that RPL can also be understood as a Bourdieuian process of ‘capital conversion’, where an individual’s economic, social and cultural capital are assessed as being equivalent to ‘academic experience’. This approach reveals that, far from being an epistemological assessment of prior learning, universities also consider their organisational identity and status when considering what informal or non-formal learning will be accepted. Ultimately, what counts as prior learning depends as much upon which university is doing the assessment, its motive for doing so and the extent to which it views RPL as a normative threat.
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