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While 4 phased validation arrangements are in place in many European countries, holistic quality assurance factors for measuring the outcomes of the services provided are not as frequently in place. 

In the European guidelines on validation of non-formal and informal learning (2015), the overall quality of validation depends on a range of factors reflecting the character and complexity of the process. Ensuring and improving quality is complex but needs to be applied following the principles of the quality circle: plan, do, check and change. While the specific form of the quality process will vary between countries and contexts, the following issues have to be considered when developing a quality strategy for validation (according to section 3,5 in the EU guidelines):  

  • Fitness for purpose is of critical importance. There are many methods for judging evidence of learning: the choice of method (or combination of methods) must be sensitive to the learning form and context; 

  • The safety, security, confidentiality and consistency of the process must be ensured and continuously improved. The candidate’s initial and continuing engagement with the process, from identification to certification, must not be compromised by lack of trust, which can result in reduced motivation to proceed;  

  • The process must be reliable, and lead to trusted results. The evidence documented for an individual must be valid and be directly related to the standards used for validation. The candidate must feel confident that interpretation of evidence and standards is thorough and not based on arbitrary judgements;  

  • Standards are the basis of measuring learning outcomes and validation. They must exist in a clear and unambiguous form that the key stakeholders support. Systematic quality assurance of standards, and how these are defined and reviewed, is crucial to generate reliability, validity, consistency and trust;  

  • Quality assurance arrangements should support the long-term implementation of validation.Sustainability is a must for processes to be trusted. Going through validation is often expensive for individuals and it is important to put in place permanent arrangements which are known to, and valued in, society at large and/or in the particular sector. 



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