R472, Credit for Prior Learning

R472-1 Purpose: To establish the process and standards by which students attending USHE institutions may earn academic credit through assessment of their prior learning.

R-472-2 References

2.1. Utah Code §53B-16-105, Common Course Numbering—Credit by Examination Transferability of Credits—Agreement with Competency-Based General Education Provider

2.2. Utah Code §53B-16-107, Credit for Military Service and Training – Transferability – Reporting

2.3. Utah Code §53B-16-110, Credit for prior learning—Board plan and policies—Reporting

2.4. Board Policy R470, General Education, Common Course Numbering, Lower Division, Pre-Major Requirements

2.5. Board Policy R471, Transfer and Articulation of Credit (pending approval)

2.6. Board Policy R473, Standards for Granting Academic Credit for CTE Course Work Completed in Non-Credit Instructional Formats

R472-3 Definitions

3.1. “Prior Learning” Knowledge, competencies, and skills acquired through formal or informal education outside a traditional academic environment or at the initiative of the individual learner, including through participation in employer training programs, military service, and independent study.

3.2. “Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)” A proven, validated process through which faculty subject matter experts evaluate a student’s previously learned competencies in a particular field and grant college credit when appropriate.

3.3. “System Transfer Guide” A USHE-licensed, online tool that enables students to easily and accurately assess credit transferability between USHE institutions.

R472-3 System Responsibilities

4.1. Prior Learning Committee: The Commissioner of Higher Education shall appoint a Prior Learning Committee to establish and maintain a quality standards and best practices guidebook for USHE institutions. The committee will review methods of PLA through which institutions provide credit and the total amount of credit for prior learning the institution provides to determine trends, student academic outcomes, and policy efficacy.  The committee will also ensure information technology systems will consistently record and track data collected related to prior learning, as well as enable accurate reports.

4.2. All prior learning assessment policies, services, and procedures will comply with the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) standards, as well as any specialized or program accreditation guidelines.

4.3. The System Transfer Guide will provide system-wide and institutional information on prior learning assessments and credit for prior learning.

R472-5 Institution Responsibilities

5.1. Institution PLA Policy: Institutions shall establish policies on credits earned in extra-institutional settings (structured and non-structured) through prior learning assessment that expand the range of educational opportunities, incorporate them into the credit award system, and remove restrictions to access.

5.2. Implementation: USHE institutions are responsible to implement credit for prior learning within the context of their missions, roles, student needs, and academic programs. Each institution’s chief academic officer or designee is responsible to oversee of credit earned through prior learning. Institutions shall comply with this policy and provide students with prior learning assessment opportunities as deemed appropriate by its faculty. Institutions will work with the Board to support all prior learning assessment efforts.

5.3. Communication to students: Institutions shall inform students of opportunities to earn college credit through PLA through advising, institutional websites, and the Utah Transfer Guide. Institutions shall provide students at minimum the following information:

5.3.1. Accepted forms of prior learning assessments;

5.3.2. How credit is awarded for prior learning;

5.3.3. Potential impacts on financial aid;

5.3.4. Transferability of credit for prior learning among institutions;

5.3.5. How prior learning is transcripted; and

5.3.6. Costs associated with PLA and earned credit.

5.4. Communication to faculty and staff: Institutions’ chief academic officers shall communicate to faculty and advisors PLA methods, standards and all related costs.

5.5. Training: Institutions shall train faculty and advisors on PLA and processes as well as portfolio-specific prior learning assessments.

R472-6 Reporting

6.1. Institutions shall annually report to the Board each form of prior learning assessment through which they provide credit, and the total amount of PLA credit the institution awarded students.

R472-7 Accepted Forms of PLA Institutions shall grant credit for prior learning from the following sources:

7.1. Credits earned through extra-institutional settings., including military service.

7.2. Nationally recognized, standardized exams, including:

                7.2.1. Advanced Placement (AP);

                7.2.2. College-Level Examination Program (CLEP);

                7.2.3. DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST); and

                7.2.4. International Baccalaureate (IB)

7.3. Nationally recognized organizations, including:

7.3.1. American Council of Education (ACE);

7.3.2. National College Credit Recommendation Service (NCCRS); and

7.3.3. Board-approved postsecondary associations.

7.4. Faculty-determined assessments for each institution, including:

7.4.1. Challenge Exams;

7.4.2. Portfolio Assessments;

7.4.3. Individual Performance Assessments; and

7.4.4. Program evaluations, completed by an institution, of non-collegiate programs or training courses to recognize proficiencies; and

7.4.5. Locally evaluated industry and workplace Credit.

7.4.6. To earn credit from the forms of prior learning listed in this subsection, students must demonstrate college-level learning and competence as determined by faculty/subject matter experts.

R472-8 Awarding Credit

8.1. If a student successfully demonstrates college-level learning, institutions shall award credit and transcript the credit as credit for prior learning. Institutions are not obligated to assess prior learning that would likely articulate with courses they do not offer.

8.2. Credit earned through prior learning will apply toward appropriate general education, degree, or certificate requirements.

8.3. Credit earned by passing a standardized examination shall be awarded credit unless the award of credit duplicates credit already awarded.

8.4. Institutions shall establish a process for students to appeal PLA credit determinations.

8.5. Credit for Current and Former Military Personnel: Pursuant to Utah Code 53B-16-107, all USHE institutions shall provide written notification to each student applying for admission that the student is required to meet with a college advisor in order to receive credit for military service and training. Upon student request, USHE institutions will provide credit based on a review of recommendations from a Board-approved postsecondary association to include the American Council on Education and other sources as may be deemed appropriate by the institution. To receive credit under this provision, current and former military personnel must meet with an academic advisor to discuss applicability of credit to program requirements, possible financial aid implications, and other factors that may impact attainment of the student’s educational goals, such as competencies that are transferable to a course of study. Upon transfer within the USHE, a student may present a transcript from a USHE institution to a receiving USHE institution to determine the applicability of credit to the student’s chosen major. The receiving institution shall evaluate the credit to be transferred pursuant to this policy. To receive credit under this provision, current and former military personnel must meet with an academic advisor to discuss chosen major. The receiving institution shall evaluate the credit to be transferred pursuant to this policy.

8.5.1. Processes for Evaluation of Credit for Current and Former Military Personnel: Representatives from USHE institutions who have responsibility for veterans’ services shall meet at least annually to review institutional policies and practices relative to awarding credit for current and former military personnel with the goal of maintaining consistent system-wide practices for evaluating and awarding credit pursuant to Section 8.5.

8.5.2. Reporting Credits Awarded to Current and Former Military Personnel: USHE Institutions shall report annually to the Board of Higher Education the number of credits awarded under Section 8.5.

R472-9 Eligibility

9.1. Undergraduate students must be admitted and enrolled at a USHE institution to be eligible to earn PLA credits.

9.2. The number of credits earned through prior learning awarded by institutions may be limited.  Some limitations may be imposed by the residency requirements of the regional and other accrediting bodies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the student degree plan.

R472-10 Transferability

10.1. Once recorded on a Utah System of Higher Education transcript, credit earned for prior learning is transferable on the same basis as if the credit had been earned through regular study at the awarding institution.

R472-11 Cost

11.1. Prior learning assessment fees must be transparent and reflect only the operational cost of administering a PLA program. Fees may not be based on the number of credits awarded.

Adopted November 15, 2019