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Final focus: VAE and PhD

The recognition of prior learning throughout Europe : Part 5


To complete this series of articles, I will return to an item concerning a unique French degree: a PhD conferred by the validation of acquired experience.

Launched by the Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris, a few years ago, the PhD is accessible from the VAE. Without going back on the principle and the operability of this device, it plays a significant part leading to greater legibility of the skills developed within doctoral training for the trainees themselves, as well as for those in charge of recruitment and skills management in professional organisations.

Making a qualification accessible by the VAE requires terms of reference of the skills developed in the training concerned, which led to the qualification. It also means formalising the skills arising from doctoral training, and thus enabling better identification for each player involved in this training. Through this device, we can clearly see the need for shared responsibility in order to improve the systems, and to respond to the major strategic issues.

The VAE process put in place in French universities for PhD degrees raises a great number of issues, among other things on the organisation of this training and the identification of the transverse skills and expertise which are developed through it.

In addition:

-    the group / individual relationship, in the sense where a large number of skills or expertise is the responsibility of the individual rather than the collective field: not everyone develops the same skills during doctoral training;

-    the activities of research, innovation and project management carried out during the professional career, without having given rise to training in and through research, in the first instance become 'qualifiable' by their implementation: what is the  impact/effect on business of the enhancement of these innovations and research activities? 

-    institutional texts, especially European, encourage the opening of an efficient European research area. Perhaps this extension of the VAE to PhD level can contribute?

The PhD is the highest degree of further education. But first and foremost, it is training in research techniques, and through that research develops a number of expert and transverse skills in PhDstudents.

The orchestration of their training shows that PhD students do not always know how to recognise their skills, contributing to a level of professional career development which is sometimes low, in the light of the level of training and the individuals' skills.

The European Leonardo da Vinci project REGIO-LLL, led by FREREF (European Regions Foundation for Research in Education and Training) between 2007 and 2010,  devoted part of its activities to the enhancement of the profile of the PhD in Europe. Ten years on, to understand how the VAE can be put to use by European and French policies in the development of research and innovation, the strength of the players' network is paramount. It must continue with better support for the professional development of young researchers in Europe.  This joint effort must be maintained, enriched, extended. For collective recognition. 

Roseline Le Squère is an expert for EPALE France. She leads the development of projects at "Bretagne Sud" University. She works in the area of adult learning studies the relations between education-training-employment-economy.


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