UCI, ULN, PLR, etc., etc., etc.-: What does it all MEAN?


An answer to the question above will follow shortly. But perhaps, before we go into details, we should simply spell it out;

UCI – Unique Candidate Number

ULN – Unique Learning Number

PLR – Personal Learning Record

The LRS – Learning Record Service

People in government and education seem to be obsessed with acronyms. New ones come into use all the time, with seemingly no other purpose but to confuse already bewildered students and Private Candidates.
The UCI, thirteen digits long and entirely unmemorable, has long been a source of confusion and aggravation for Private Candidates and exams officers alike, and now, just to confuse things further, a 10 digit ULN has also come into existence!

So what are they, why do we need them, and where do they come from?

Well, someone, presumably in government, has decided that everyone should have their own verified record of academic achievement held in a central source. As such, it is accessible to the student or anyone / any organisation to which the student allows access. It should also be noted that this record of achievement will be required to be kept for everyone who is now 14 years old or over. It is known as the Personal Learning Record or PLR.

A whole new organisation has been created to administer this project, called the Learning Records Service. This is the link to their website; http://www.learningrecordsservice.org.uk/products/learnerrecord/

The ULN or Unique Learner Number has been set up in order to allow the development of a PLR and access to it for every student. If you are in school you will be given a PLR and ULN and records will be kept without you having to be active.

However, if you are over 14 but not in school you probably will not know anything about either a PLR or a ULN. Indeed, ULN’s are NOT MANDATORY FOR PRIVATE CANDIDATES, or for non state-funded school and college candidates. It should still be noted though, that if you have any exam certificates or results slips and have already been allocated a ULN at any time, then it will be shown on them. It is 10 digits long and not to be confused with your UCI, which has 13 digits and is also shown on the same certificates and results slips! Please see the link to the LRS website for further details; http://www.learningrecordsservice.org.uk/products/uln/

If your exam officer insists that even as a Private Candidate you must have a ULN, then please be aware that only certain bodies can issue this number. Your exam centre will be able to do this via the LRS Organisational Portal but Oxford Open Learning and Oxford Home Schooling cannot do it.

The UCI, or Unique Candidate Number, which was used to log you into exams and aggregate results, is 13 digits long and appears on all results certificates since 1998. It seems to some degree to have been usurped in efficiency by the ULN. According to the LRS, too many people have more than one UCI, and this leads to confusion in keeping records and aggregating results. Therefore, just to help things along as well as a UCI, internal exam candidates will also now need a ULN. Both ULNs and UCIs should be able to be issued by a student’s exam officer at their entering centre. Sadly, this will undoubtedly become yet another complication in the acceptance of Private Candidates.

I hope this little wander through the garden of government bureaucracy and big brother type record keeping has been useful and not too confusing, but we will always do our best to make sure you don’t get tangled up in the bushes!

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