Have your say: Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) Opportunities at UFV for Career Practitioners and Clients

Seonaigh MacPherson and Corinne Richardson of the University of the Fraser Valley opened up our 2014 webinar series with a presentation on the topic of Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR).

60% of our webinar participants had not been familiar with the PLAR process so a great deal of information shared by Seonaigh and Corinne in this session was new for many of you. Despite a few audio hiccups near the end of the presentation (which have been removed from the recorded version below), what a great way to kick off 2014!

Do you have any lingering questions or comments for Seonaigh and Corinne? Please feel free to post them below and our guest speakers will be more than happy to respond.

For a PDF copy of the presentation slides, click here and be sure to check out information on UFV’s PLAR and Adult Education programs. For contact information, click here.


  1. Seonaigh and Corinne, here are some questions that we didn’t quite have time to address during the webinar:

    “So if I understand correctly, the idea is to pay a percentage of the course fee even though you can demonstrate that you already have the necessary competency?”

    • Yes, there will be a fee attached to PLAR. Instead of paying full price to take each individual course, students pay 75% of 12 credits. Even if a student earns 45 credits they will only pay 75% of 12 credits which is a substantial savings financially and time spent earning a degree.

    • You pay for the administration of the process to have your experience recognized for credit. In fact, there is a considerable amount of administrative time and effort to process a PLAR application in any context. Also, you are not paying a percentage of the course fee for black credit. You are paying a percentage of the cost for the equivalent of 4 courses (e.g., 75%) but can claim credit for up to 15 courses’ worth. The cost is to cover administration. Assessors with competencies in adult education or the area are found and paid as consultants.

  2. “Could I use 45 credits for an academic block, plus the portfolio competencies for up to ? credits? I have a M.Ed from SFU but an incomplete BA so was thinking of “filling that gap”?”

    • At UFV, you are required to complete 30% of a degree through actual courses completed on campus. I believe right now they do not recognize PLAR credits for such a “residency requirement.” You can claim 45 block credits (so long as you HAVE the associated competencies) through a portfolio assessment, and you can challenge individual course through proving equivalent competencies.

      The trick for you might be that you are trying to use graduate credits towards an undergraduate degree. There are restrictions in place for this (with some exceptions) imposed by BC CAT (BC Council on Admissions and Transfer).

    • We will need to look at your transcripts to assess where credits will be applied so any comments I have are not based on official transcripts. I imagine many of your credits will fill the upper level electives, the English requirements and instructional design. What may remain are the 30 credit residency requirements which will be focused on adult learning. PLAR credits are for unrecognized (not transferrable credits). If you wish, you can contact me directly and we can discuss how your educational background and other experiences can fit in the BA in ADED and if this degree meets your needs.

    • Competencies and skills are used interchangeably. Competencies can incorporate a skill but have more in-depth knowledge which is fundamental to the use of the skill and which includes abilities and behaviours.

    • Good question. A skill, I would say, is a discrete component of an activity that is learned or acquired and produces specific results. With respect to employment, skills are often organized into categories such as communication skills, technology skills, leadership skills, interpersonal skills, and accounting skills, for example. A communication skill might be as simple as speaking or more specific forms of speaking, such as public speaking or facilitating.

      A competency, I would say, refers to underlying components of skills that involve specific knowledge, behaviour, and abilities as well as a sense of proficiency (i.e., degree of mastery). For example, in the case of facilitating a meeting, it could be the ability to listen to others, to hold a meeting to order and to an agenda, to bring a discussion to a collaborative decision. While a SKILL is visible and recognized, a competency is not necessarily recognized as it is a component of a skill.

      Activity theory understands competencies as “unconscious” components of skills or activities. For this reason, in a learning context, students or participants might understand that themselves to be learning or acquiring skills, but a teacher or trainer breaks down the skills into component competencies and supports and assesses these competencies so that students or participants can learn and improve performance.

  3. Thanks very much for an informative session. Perhaps you answered this already but I missed it when the audio failed. My question is around the length of time one has to complete the BA once accepted. You mentioned people take 1 or 2 courses per semester, so it sounds like there is quite a bit of flexibility built in.

    • Hi Kim,

      Yes, the length of time it takes to complete depends on how much transfer and PLAR credits you have applied. Assuming that is maximal, it could be completed in two years part-time (at 5 courses a year).