I do not have a formal undergraduate degree. Can I still pursue a Masters course?Chen Wan Lim
Education should not be limited to anyone based on the person’s background. Perhaps out of unavoidable circumstances, some people did not get the opportunity to pursue a formal education during their younger adult days or perhaps some people had to enter the workforce right after school – These should not be a deterrent against pursuing one’s desire to obtain a further tertiary education. The good news is that, in Malaysia, the opportunity to pursue a Master’s degree without formal tertiary education is made possible via the Malaysian Qualifications Agency’s (MQA) initiative to promote lifelong learning. The programme which enables one to pursue further higher education is called the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).
What is APEL?
According to the Malaysian Qualifications Agency, Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning or APEL is a systematic process that involves the identification, documentation and assessment of prior experiential learning to determine the extent to which an individual has achieved the desired learning outcomes, for access to a programme of study and/or award of credits.
APEL provides an opportunity for the individual with working experience but a lack of formal academic qualifications to pursue their studies in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). In general, knowledge obtained through formal education and working experience will be both assessed in APEL’s assessment.
Benefits of APEL
APEL provides the platform for candidates with prior experiential learning to apply for a place at higher institutions of education. These prior experiential learnings include: work experience: full-time, part-time or casual, voluntary and community work, family duties, hobbies or leisure activities, coaching and mentoring others, attending and participating in seminars, conferences and workshops, attending short courses, fluency in other languages, private study and research and any other life experiences.
With APEL, interested candidates are able to increase their self-confidence and motivation for learning, get access and recognition to higher qualifications, document knowledge, skills and experience better through the preparation of portfolio of evidence, plan for further learning and personal career development, map prior learning onto the MQF to identify a national level, develop analytical and learning skills through the process of undertaking APEL itself, increase mobility and employability and reduce time and cost.
As a baseline, according to guidelines set out by APEL, candidates seeking admission into Master’s programme should at least be more than 30 years of age in the year of application and possess at least STPM/Diploma or an equivalent foundation with relevant work experience.
The concept of enabling candidates to pursue Master’s degree education without prior formal tertiary education is not something new in Malaysia. Before the APEL initiative was mooted, the Ministry of Higher Education had approved the establishment of three open universities namely Open University Malaysia (OUM), Universiti Tun Abdul Razak (UniRAZAK) and Wawasan Open University (WOU) to practise the open entry system.
The Ministry noted that such system allows for a more flexible admission practice by institutions in providing higher education to adult learners who would otherwise be denied such opportunities via the conventional route. These universities serve as pioneer practitioners in open learning in the country and mark a significant development in the democratisation and massification of higher education.
In a nutshell, if you are considering pursuing a Master’s degree but having doubts on whether you are qualified, do not hesitate further and contact STUDYMASTERS.MY for proper consultation on the options available for you. Keep in mind that learning is a lifelong process and should not be limited by your background.