Grading and credit for experience
Assessing student performance
Student performance is assessed in two ways in French higher education:
- Continuous assessment. Learning is measured continously through tests and quizzes administered throughout the year in every subject.
- Final examinations. Final exams measure student learning in all subjects over a period of several days. Final exams are given twice a year at the close of each semester.
In France's universities, courses are usually grouped into modules (sets of related subjects) that are cumulative. A degree consists of a certain number of modules, some required, others optional or elective. Once a student completes a module it can never be lost. It can be carried over and counted toward the degree requirements of another program.
Awarding credit for experience
A series of regulations has enabled France's educational institutions to grant academic credit toward a degree, certificate, or other credential (such as a professional qualification) in recognition of a candidate's experience on the job or in another setting.
Candidate's seeking credit must complete an application in which they describe their professional experience and the skills they acquired. The application is submitted to a jury that decides how much academic credit the candidate should receive for the experience and skills described. If the jury decides to award less than the full amount of credit sought, the candidate is offered suggestions on how to make up the difference.
French universities frequently use this process to place foreign applicants at an appropriate level in the curriculum.
Two distinct procedures are used. One, known as VAP 85, allows candidates to transfer directly into a program at the level determined by the validation process. The other (VAE) enables the candidate to receive a degree or credit toward a degree based on the jury's assessment of the candidate's prior learning and accomplishments.