Career & Education

Years of work experience but no certification? UTech, Jamaica can help

Sunday, October 08, 2017

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The University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech, Jamaica), has recently announced its foray into prior learning assessment, joining other universities on the island that grant individuals matriculation based on their previous learning and work experience.

Headed by coordinator Sandy Lawrence, the Prior Learning Assessment Unit (PLAU) evaluates prospective students who do not meet the required entry level criteria of five Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) subjects for undergraduate courses, or a GPA of 2.7 and above for graduate studies, based on their work experience in the interested field of study, or other qualifications such as City and Guilds or National Vocational Qualification of Jamaica (NVQ-J).

Lawrence explained that while each applicant's request is dealt with on a case-by-case basis, there are certain standards that are applied across the board. For example, only a minimum of three years' working experience will be acceptable and it must be relevant to the intended course of study.

'If you are interested in a course in entrepreneurship, having owned a company of your own for a minimum of three years may perhaps assist you in getting entry into the programme if you do not have the required five CSECs,” she said.

There are exemptions to the rule, however, as courses that are professionally certified such as nursing or pharmacy have specific entry requirements and cannot be substituted with working experience.

For graduate programmes, holders of undergraduate ceritifications who do not have the required 2.7 GPA or higher, or individuals with either an associate degree, a diploma, or a professional qualification such as Project Management Professional, can matriculate into master's degree programmes pending the unit's assessment.

For the applicant to be successful, he/she will be required to have a minimum of five years' relevant working experience and will be required to develop and submit an academic portfolio for review.

“[The PLA] is an alternative entry requirement, or an alternative route for higher education as CSEC is not the only governing qualification on the island. There are other means to establish a person's competence, so UTech, Jamaica is broadening its entry requirements to facilitate the wide cross-section of qualifications,” Lawrence said.

She added that undergraduate students may receive module exemptions should they have competencies in modules within their courses of study.

The PLA is an international assessment body, but UTech, Jamaica has tailored its assessments for its students and the growing number of qualifications in Jamaica.

The university's academic board approved the policies governing PLA in December 2016.

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