APEL.A: Your Alternative Access to Higher Education

When it comes to personal and professional advancement, having formal academic qualifications can make a real difference. Academic qualifications can open doors to new opportunities more easily, spurring your career forward in a way that might not have been viable without having these credentials on your resume.

However, the traditional academic route might not be suitable or accessible for everyone. Recognising this, and as part of the nation’s initiatives to promote lifelong learning, the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA), under the Malaysian Qualifications Framework, offers an innovative approach to higher education through APEL.A.

In this article, you will gain a deeper understanding of APEL.A and its framework, benefits, and application process. Read on to find out the differences between the various types of APEL.A available and whether this is the right pathway for you.

What is APEL.A?

APEL.A stands for Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning for Access, a process that recognises the value of experiential learning. It enables individuals who do not have traditional academic qualifications, but possess the relevant work experience, to gain entry into a tertiary-level programme of study.

This initiative is not simply an alternative pathway to higher education, but a testament to the belief and principle that learning occurs in various contexts, beyond the conventional classroom.

There are different levels for APEL.A, depending on your academic goals and experience level, with each having their own eligibility requirements.

Benefits of APEL.A

If you're a working adult with relevant work experience but lacking traditional academic credentials to pursue higher education, APEL.A offers a path forward. Its many benefits include:

✔ Accessibility

APEL.A empowers individuals to embrace lifelong learning by making access to tertiary-level programmes possible even if you don’t have traditional academic qualifications. You get to enhance your knowledge and skills, adapt to evolving industry demands, and stay competitive in the job market.

✔ Recognition of Experience

Gain official recognition for the skills and knowledge honed throughout your professional journey. Your work experience will be officially certified, helping you smoothly transition to an academic programme.

✔ Career Advancement

Getting a tertiary-level academic qualification can lead to advancement opportunities within your current field or industry – or even create brand new career paths. Whether you aspire to a leadership role, a career switch, or simply personal growth, APEL.A can be your stepping stone.

✔ Flexibility

With APEL.A, you can pursue your academic goals without compromising your existing work and personal commitments. There are multiple intakes throughout the year, letting you choose the timing that fits your schedule.

PRO TIP: At Sunway University, the entire APEL.A process can be done entirely online, providing much-needed flexibility for the modern workforce.

Who Should Apply for APEL.A?

APEL.A is a great choice for working professionals who wish to upgrade their academic qualifications more quickly.

If any of the following scenarios resonate with you, an APEL.A certification could be the key to your academic success.

  • You possess relevant work experience but lack formal qualifications to pursue a tertiary-level programme
  • You have completed vocational training or professional development courses not formally recognised for university entry
  • You possess specialised skills and knowledge acquired through on-the-job experience
  • You are a mature student seeking to resume your academic journey after a break

APEL.A vs APEL.C vs APEL.Q vs APEL.M: What’s the Difference?

Other than APEL.A, MQA also offers the following APEL types:

APEL.A provides those with work experience the opportunity to attain admission or access to a programme of study. Through an assessment of your formal education, as well as your past work and learning experiences, you can access 6 levels of qualifications, namely:

  • Certificate
  • Diploma
  • Advanced Diploma
  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Master’s Degree
  • Doctoral Degree

APEL.C, meanwhile, recognises and awards you with credits for learning you have done by  assessing your prior experience. You can earn up to 30% of your graduating credits for all levels of education if your work or learning experiences match the learning outcomes of your selected course. This could help you complete a programme of study faster. 

There is also APEL.Q, which allows you to get an academic qualification using your extensive experience. Your experiential learning can be transformed into credits for an entire study programme via a series of assessment tasks, and you will only need to complete a capstone course from the programme curriculum.

Finally, APEL.M enables candidates who lack formal academic qualifications to enter a tertiary-level programme, but have attained the equivalent of at least 50% of graduating credits via unbundled micro-credentials, to gain admission into the programme. Upon admission, they need only complete the remaining credits not obtained via micro-credentials.

Complete APEL.A Fully Online at Sunway University

A champion of lifelong learning, Sunway University provides an opportunity for learners of different age groups and from different study/work backgrounds to grow personally and professionally.

It is recognised by MQA as an APEL assessment centre with “internal” status (PPA Dalaman), meaning students who complete the APEL.A pathway through the institution will get to pursue their chosen academic programme exclusively at Sunway University.

The Sunway University APEL.A assessment programme is currently open to Malaysian citizens and can be done fully online, making it an ideal choice for:

  • Busy working professionals
  • Those who do not live near campus
  • Individuals generally seeking time, travel, and overall cost savings

How to Apply for APEL.A at Sunway University?

Here is what the APEL.A process at Sunway University looks like:

1. APEL.A Application

Start by registering on the MQA portal. Then, complete the Sunway University APEL.A Self-Assessment Form. Once you pass the entry requirement screening and successfully enrol in the APEL.A programme, you will undergo orientation and have a session with an expert advisor. Discuss your eligibility and desired university programme with Sunway's dedicated APEL.A team.

2. Assessment

You will be required to take an aptitude test. Upon passing the test, you will need to submit your portfolio for an evaluation. For APEL.A T-7 (Master’s Level), you will also go through an interview process

3. Results and University Application

Successfully obtained your APEL.A certificate? Congratulations! You can proceed with your application for admission to a Sunway University programme.

Enrol for Online Master’s Degree Study via APEL.A

Sunway University Online offers 100% online master’s programmes designed by leading academics and industry experts in partnership with online learning specialists with international experience.

These programmes can be taken up on a part-time basis, ensuring that working professionals get to enjoy a healthy work-life-study balance while equipping themselves with the latest skills and knowledge needed to take their career to the next level.

Our online master’s programmes can be accessed via direct entry, prerequisite pathway, and APEL.A (T-7).   

Schedule a 15-minute call with our Education Counsellors to learn more about qualifying for an online master’s programme via APEL.A.

APEL.A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can I apply for APEL.A at Sunway University?
To apply for APEL.A, go to the MQA portal and select Sunway University as your APEL assessment centre (PPA). You will receive an email containing a link to register at a Sunway University URL. Click on the link and fill in the required fields. Once you have submitted your application, the APEL Unit of Sunway University will contact you.

Alternatively, you can visit or call the Sunway University Marketing Department for guidance on the application process.

What type of work experience qualifies for APEL.A?
Relevant work experience in any field can be considered, provided that it demonstrably aligns with the learning outcomes of your chosen university programme.

How long does the APEL.A process take?
The time frame is generally around 17 weeks from orientation and assessment to release of results. Before the orientation, you might need to spend an estimated period of 4 weeks for registration and self-assessment.

Is there a cost associated with APEL.A?
Yes. The assessment fees are as published by MQA and depend on the level of APEL.A.

  • T-3 (Certificate Level) and T-4 (Diploma Level): RM240
  • T-6 (Bachelor’s Level): RM370 
  • T-7 (Master’s Level): RM580

What am I required to do for the APEL.A assessment?
For all the levels, you must take an aptitude test and submit your work portfolio for an evaluation. Additionally, for APEL T-7 (Master’s Level), you will have to undergo an interview process.

What will be tested in the aptitude test?
You will be tested in Numerical Literacy, English Literacy, Bahasa Melayu Literacy, and General Knowledge, as well as Critical Thinking. 

What do I need to show in my portfolio?
Your portfolio should contain evidence of your formal, informal, and non-formal experiential learning that showcases the following competencies:

  • Knowledge and Understanding
  • Cognitive Skills
  • Functional Work Skills
  • Personal & Entrepreneurial Skills
  • Ethics & Professionalism
  • Practical Work Skills
  • Interpersonal & Communication Skills
  • Digital & Numeracy Skills
  • Leadership, Autonomy & Responsibility

To ensure you have all the necessary information and evidence in your portfolio, an APEL advisor from Sunway University will be assigned to guide you. 

Can I add additional evidence to my portfolio after submitting it?
No. If you wish to add more evidence to your portfolio, you must undergo a fresh submission process. You may do this after a 6-month cooling-off period.

If I fail my assessment, can I re-sit the test?
You may re-sit the aptitude test a maximum of 2 times. However, a 3-month cooling-off period, as well as charges for re-sits and re-submissions, apply.

This ensures candidates have sufficiently prepared for the aptitude test and/or obtained the necessary evidence for their portfolio.

I got my APEL.A certification from another PPA. Can I still apply for a Sunway University programme?
Yes, if you obtained your APEL.A certification from an assessment centre with “open” status (PPA Terbuka).

I have not yet received my APEL certificate even though I have passed the assessments. Can I enrol in a Sunway University programme?
Yes, you can, as long as you have your official result notification letter from MQA. You are still required to provide your certificate within your first semester of study. 

Does the APEL.A certificate have a validity period?
Yes. The APEL.A certificate is valid for 5 years from the release date of your results.