A decade ago many educational institutions and especially higher education institutions (HEIs) were strongly of the opinion that validation of non-formal and informal learning (VNIL) is not an option for them. VNIL was considered labour and cost intensive, time consuming and there was an intrinsic fear that VNIL will undermine the quality and validity of qualifications gained in education. The fear stemmed from the notion of not being able
to control the learning process as experiential learning often times is much wider in scope than e.g. learning gained by reading a particular book or attending lectures. Assessing experiential learning requires more extensive assessment methods to verify the appropriate level of learning than traditional, school based learning. Also, claims were made that indivi duals with experience still lacked the theoretical framework, which often times was considered more important than the ability to apply experiential learning in practice. As the HEIs have relative
autonomy it was relatively easy to hide behind the fortress of tradition and status at first.
The Bologna process and the Copenhagen process made a significant change in the ways HEIs and vocational education and training (VET) organizations perceived VNIL. Also, much of the EU and national funding was directed towards developing VNIL procedures. It became evident to the world of education that VNIL is something to be seriously looked at. There was international and political pressure, pressure from working life, more and more competition of the number of students. This led the educational institutions to ask themselves, whether VNIL could provide them the edge to be more appealing both in the eyes of working life, public funding mechanisms and the potential students.