During the 1980s, an adult-driven movement for recognition and accreditation of informal learning was born.
The movement engaged with over 5 million adults and initiated the birth of over 30 distinct organisations: later known as the Open College Network.
The first Network was set up in Manchester in 1981. Less than ten years later, the Network had grown to over 30 organisations.
At the same time, the 'Access to Higher Education' movement was gaining momentum, providing an alternative route into university for adults who lacked formal entry qualifications.
Together, these two movements developed robust mechanisms to recognise learner achievement and facilitate learner progression.
The Open College Network was the first group of accreditation bodies to use credit as the basis of the award system.
In 1986, members of the Open College Network established the National Open College Network. This enabled members to work together, discuss ideas and experiences, and explore areas of development.
In 1989, The Wales Access Forum was formed. It was tasked with establishing and developing Access to Higher Education activity in Wales.
In 1990, The South West Wales Open College and Access Consortium (SWWOCAC) became one of the first Open College Networks to sign the pioneering Credit Accumulation and Transfer agreement (CATA).
This agreement allowed learners to achieve formal recognition for their learning by being awarded credits, and helped to facilitate transferability of credits between institutions.
In 1990, the first credits were awarded to learners in Wales.
By 1994, there were 3 Open College Networks in Wales: South West Wales; South East Wales; and North Wales. These Networks merged in 2005 to form Open College Network Wales, as they wanted to be directly involved in national developments in education and training.
In 1994, the Wales Credit and Modularisation Project (later known as Credis) introduced unitisation to Wales. This meant that further education institutions could use credit to underpin other qualifications.
In 2003, the Welsh Assembly Government’s Department for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning & Skills (DCELLS) in partnership with the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) introduced the Credit and Qualifications Framework Wales.
This Framework provided a unified system of accreditation for courses in higher education, lifelong learning and vocational training.
Open College Network Wales and National Open College Network were original signatories to the Credit and Qualifications Framework Wales Common Accord.
This agreement supported the Credit and Qualifications Framework Wales. It formalised the terminology, design specifications, principles and systems needed to ensure appropriate quality assurance systems for assigning and awarding credit.
Open College Network Wales also assessed the application and development of Credit to Community Development Standards, Offender Learning and 14-19 Formal and Informal Learning /Learning Pathway.
Open College Network Wales played an active role in the vocational reform programme that established the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In August 2009, Open College Network Wales became Agored Cymru, the first new awarding organisation approved to operate in the Qualifications and Credit Framework.
Today, Agored Cymru creates nationally recognised, quality assured qualifications and units across a diverse range of subjects.
The organisation is widely valued and respected nationally by employers for its' innovative and flexible approach to developing qualifications and skills for learners in Wales.