APELE Workshop: Access to university studies for people with fewer opportunities (including migrants) through the recognition of experiential and prior learning in European countries. [L’accesso agli studi universitari delle persone con minori opportunità (inclusi i migranti) attraverso il riconoscimento dell’apprendimento esperienziale e pregresso nei paesi europei]
On March 16 2022 an online workshop was organised in the framework of the APELE (Accreditation of prior experiential learning in European Universities) project. The project, funded by the Erasmus+ programme, aims to focus on those students pursuing non-traditional paths to university.
The APELE partners, among whom the University of Bari and Armes Progetti per la Val di Vara in Italy, analysed the legislative situation in different European countries concerning how experiential learning is recognised at national level for access to university. The formalisation of harmonious paths of recognition and validation of experiential learning would in fact allow portions of the population with fewer opportunities (including migrants, people facing geographical obstacles or with educational difficulties) to see reduced school drop-outs in accessing university education, offering young people a possibility of personal development in line with the objectives of the European educational area.
This perspective is made necessary by the freedom of movement of students within the European Union, and today the results of the project appear absolutely relevant in the face of the challenges – in terms of integration in the years to come of a large number of refugees – that the war in Ukraine poses. The freedom of movement of students promoted by the European Union requires it to be accompanied by measures to achieve mutual and automatic recognition of higher education and upper secondary education qualifications and achievements during periods of learning abroad. There is therefore a need to provide adequate pathways for easy access to higher education across borders, and to support students and all those who have followed a different pathway but wish to continue their studies.
The workshop was the opportunity to disseminate the results of the project which is nearing completion. It started with a warm welcome by Chiara Gemma, Member of the European Parliament (Movimento 5 Stelle, Italy) and afterwards by MEP Brando Benifei (Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats), who gave an overall overview regarding the situation and background of the project’s objectives.
Markus Meckl, Coordinator of the project and Professor at the University of Arkhuriri (Iceland), gave a presentation about APELE and then briefly explained the results obtained in Iceland. He highlighted that the purpose of the project has been to find an answer to the challenges of how students who follow a non-traditional learning path, that is, students without a high school diploma, could get into university. The target group of APELE is those people with fewer opportunities, such as people with learning difficulties, early school leavers, students that suffer from geographical obstacles, immigrants and refugees.
The workshop was followed by different presentations on case studies, first in Denmark, by Silvia Adamo, Professor at the University of Copenhagen, who also explained the legislative framework in Europe, and then in Italy, by Rosa Gallelli, Professor at the University of Bari, who talked about the migrant community in Apulia. Pasquale Renna, Ph.D at the University of Bari, gave an example of how to create the individual portfolio of the target group of students to access university.
Approaching the end of the workshop, Monica Amari, President of the ARMES Project, talked about the internal areas of the Italian Apennines; the Vara valley in Liguria. The last intervention was done by Tiberino Schmidin, Education and Culture Coordinator, Permanent Representation of Italy to the EU, who talked about the perspectives of possible legislative interventions in Italy.
The project partners wished to exchange views with stakeholders in order to explore the prospects for the implementation of such pathways in addition to the Erasmus+ funding. The circulation of ideas and the sharing of thoughts in the debate that followed the project presentation was a valuable element of comparison.