Frequently Asked Questions
Launched in October 2007, GULL now has participants in many countries.
GULL is a network movement that aims to to provide universal access to lifelong learning in the workplace and in the community. In community settings our goal is to provide opportunities for disadvantaged and marginalized groups and in economic terms, the world's poorest people. This is a huge challenge but the fact is that the world's majority would like the same opportunities as the few who enjoy access to personal and professional development. How is this possible to achieve? Our core learning process - action learning - is not dependent on rich resourcing but on the determination of the human spirit. Each and every participant - whether they work in a boardroom or a village must determine what he or she needs to learn and then journey with others to secure practical and professional outcomes. In the words of GULL's motto, we want to enable YOU to make a difference in OUR world.
Why was GULL established?
The world needed a practical, holistic, inclusive global system for recognizing and certifying lifelong learning. Why? Because the majority have few options to enable them to learn and develop. Most do not have the academic qualifications or the money to enter further or higher education. Given the opportunity, GULL believes that each of us has the innate capacity to learn what we need to learn in order to lead a more fulfilling life. GULL’s purpose then is to facilitate human capital development by innovative means – dependent not on technology or standard educational methods, but on the human spirit.
What is GULL’s mission?
GULL is dedicated to enabling YOU (the learner) to make a difference in OUR (shared) world. GULL’s practical approach to personal and professional development uses action learning to help individuals, communities and organizations to sustain learning and apply the outcomes. Lifelong learning is for EVERYONE and all are welcome to participate.
Where is GULL based and how does it operate?
GULL is an American university based in California, USA. GULL’s objective is to operate as cost effectively as possible and it does not use dedicated premises or other costly infrastructure resources.
How does GULL offer a credible alternative?
GULL’s mandate is based on its authority to award recognized professional certificates, diplomas and degrees. Here, the accumulation of credit is entirely linked to practical learning outcomes. This approach ensures that evidence of learning is realistic and valuable to the learner and to employers and the community.
What is GULL doing to develop globally?
To reach the majority (our global objective) and at the same time, to localize the value of our awards, GULL seeks Government level endorsement in the regions and countries in which it works. In this respect, GULL’s approach is forging new ground. For example, the Government of Malaysia has endorsed GULL and its full suite of professional certificates, diplomas and degrees. This exemplifies our approach – Government recognition (once only, Government of Papua New Guinea) and endorsement (many times) by other Governments, Leaders and Institutions. For further details, please see the ‘Statement of Recognition’ and the ‘Endorsements’ section at the GULL website.
Why did GULL seek Government recognition for its awards rather than accreditation?
GULL does not work with accrediting bodies nor offer accredited awards. If we did this, we would exclude most of those we are seeking to serve. This is because prior academic attainment is so often a pre-condition of access to further and higher education. Furthermore, the cost of accredited study is beyond the financial means of the majority. Instead, GULL provides a recognized professional award system with pathways to professional Bachelor, Master and Doctor. These pathways enable people to learn in a natural, holistic and integrated way – at work and in the community – on a lifelong basis.
As GULL is not an academic institution, why is it termed a ‘university’?
The word university is derived from the Latin universitas magistrorum et scholarium, meaning community of teachers and scholars. The oldest universities (like Oxford and Cambridge in the UK) became known as academic institutions because academia or academe and academy is a collective term for the scientific and cultural community engaged in higher education and research. Please note though that the term actually originates from Akademeia, ancient Athens, where the gymnasium was made famous by Plato as a centre for learning in a lifelong quest for wisdom. This is GULL’s purpose too!
How else is GULL different from academic institutions?
GULL provides frameworks and awards in support of lifelong learning. GULL is not itself in the education business and it does not ‘educate’ people as this requires teachers, pre-determined curriculum, standards and accreditation. Second, GULL does not use academic terminology - GULL works through representatives (not professors, faculty or teachers). This is because a contemporary definition of an academic is a person who works as a researcher (and usually a teacher too) at a university or similar institution in post-secondary (or tertiary) education. He or she is nearly always an advanced degree holder. Further, in the United States, the term ‘academic’ has become synonymous with that of the job title professor.
What is the rationale for GULL’s professional qualifications system?
The purpose of GULL’s professional qualification framework is to enable our learners to advance in incremental steps and in so doing, to make a difference in their respective workplaces, communities and beyond. This is an ‘active’ challenge in which each participant must take responsibility for their own learning journey.
Above all, GULL seeks to facilitate the kind of holistic development that mirrors the diversity and richness of activity in the workplace, in the community and in life. It is not sufficient to claim technical competence (e.g. ‘I can do the job’): A true professional in any work or community role should also be an effective role model. Soft skills, good character (as reflected by attitudes and behaviours) and a professional approach to every task and interaction are vitally important. GULL aims to facilitate all of these things and to enable our learners to step themselves up and demonstrate professional excellence in how they think; what they say; what they do and in how they behave.
Why does GULL denote the professional status of its awards on its certificates?
GULL’s awards reflect the outcomes of active, holistic learning with tangible, trackable benefits for the learner and for other stakeholders in the learning process. GULL encourages its learners to customize their own learning journey and this does not require conventional curriculum or formal teacher input. To reflect this and the fact that GULL’s awards are not designed to articulate with academic awarding bodies and institutions, GULL’s certificates clearly state that they are professional awards. The only guaranteed way to advance via an academic route is to follow an academic development route from the outset and so GULL does not issue transcripts of grades or marks. However, we believe that GULL offers a practical, inclusive, powerful, low cost and credible alternative for the majority.
Why did GULL adopt action learning as its core learning process?
To facilitate holistic development, GULL encourages its participants to determine for themselves what they need to learn. Why is this so important? If he/she is to advance and demonstrate true professionalism in their work, each learner must honestly assess their own strengths and weaknesses and determine where and how they might improve and who can assist them (e.g. colleagues, friends, family and others). To enable this level of customization, GULL uses action learning. It is a process that engages the participant and his/her colleagues and community on a collaborative journey. In our view, nothing is more powerful than people working together to better themselves, solve problems and create stronger societies for their families and future generations.
What is action learning?
Action learning occurs when people learn from each other, create their own resources, identify their own problems and form their own solutions. The world over, this process works – in any culture, language and tradition. The process is so enriching that every learner is able to identify personal and life transforming outcomes. These commonly include expressions of enhanced self confidence, self belief, renewal, enthusiasm for learning, a new sense of direction and purpose for career and life – along with news skills, insights and the sense of being equipped for the future.
What form of quality assurance does GULL use?
GULL uses a quarterly review format to help its system users to track their own progress and identify their own variances for corrective action, over an annual cycle concluding each year with an annual report and review meeting. To facilitate this, GULL has developed its own web-based quality assurance (QA) tracking system with reporting formats that are easy to follow and use. This provides a helpful way of identifying potential fail points, appropriate corrective action and a firm basis for incremental improvement.
How does GULL verify attainment?
GULL’s representatives organize local external review meetings with independent professional verifiers and a learning review workshop at GULL certification events. As GULL focuses on outcomes, the learner must provide evidence of learning and application. If the evidence is incomplete, the learner is required to continue until they have met the requirements.
How does GULL recognize learning outcomes?
GULL’s representatives organize local learning review workshop and certification events for those who have met the requirements. Here, learning outcomes are shared and certificates are presented. The recipients of GULL awards can opt to wear GULL’s official cap and gown, providing that all recipients at any given event can afford to purchase a gown from GULL’s Malaysian supplier (GULL is not able to finance a hire service arrangement). Alternatively, GULL recipients can hire or buy the official attire of a GULL partner institution (as applicable). GULL’s policy is to leave the decision about the use of ceremonial attire to its local representatives as this is an important occasion for award recipients and should be conducted in a way that reflects local preferences. In most cases, recipients of GULL awards will wear formal business or community attire to reflect the professional nature of the award.
Does GULL offer subject-specific awards?
GULL’s approach to lifelong action learning (see: Media and Publications for more details) draws on life and work experience to enable participants to become skilled, self-directed lifelong learners. This is GULL’s sole purpose - we do not ‘teach’ subject specialisms and we do not issue subject-specific awards, except in the following carefully documented circumstances.
Bachelor of Management (B Mgt) and Bachelor of Professional Studies (B Prof)
GULL’s professional Bachelor pathway is intended for those with life and work experience and for those who have had limited educational opportunity. To assist participants at this level, GULL often works with affiliated organizations that provide skills and trade-related training in vocational areas like Catering, Bakery and Health and Beauty or expertise in a change process such as Church and Community Mobilization. In these circumstances, a specialism e.g. (Health and Beauty) can be denoted on B Prof pathway certificates (in brackets) providing that:
- A GULL honorary officer (President, Vice President, Network Leader) has approved a skills training-based pathway in conjunction with an affiliated organization.
- The denoted specialism is permissible if each B Prof level is supported by a related curriculum and facilitation provided by professionally qualified technicians, equivalent to 75 percent of the allocated study time for each level and with formal assessment by observation or examination (as appropriate) conducted by professionally qualified technicians.
- Competence in a denoted specialism (B Prof) and generic skills (B Mgt) cannot be certified at professional Bachelor degree (level 5) until candidates have met all pre-specified requirements and successfully completed an oral examination with an independent examiner who is an acknowledged expert in the specialist field.
It is not the role of GULL to verify competence in subject-specific areas, and abuse of this principle is a violation of the GULL code of practice that authorizes GULL’s honorary officers and affiliated organizations to act on its behalf.
GULL graduates may only use the post nominal abbreviations: B Mgt – a generic award (applicable if the candidate holds a junior manager or leader role) or B Prof (Specialism) where the specialism denotes verified competence in practical, trade-related skills.
Master of Management (M Mgt) and Master of Professional Studies (M Prof)
GULL’s professional Master pathway is intended for those with substantial life and work experience and for those in managerial or leadership roles. They must demonstrate that their studies have led to a broad, strategic impact in their organizational setting prior to completion of the pathway. At this level, the most relevant M Prof pathway specialism is ‘Leadership Development’ because GULL’s purpose is to assist participants to become more effective professionals. Alternatively, if an affiliated organization focuses on a cause or change process such as ‘Personal Viability’ the cause or change process can be used to denote M Prof pathway certificates (in brackets).
Exceptionally, a different professional specialism may apply, providing that:
- A GULL honorary officer (President, Vice President, Network Leader) has approved a professional training-based pathway in conjunction with an affiliated organization.
- The denoted specialism is permissible if each M Prof level is supported by a related professional curriculum and facilitation, equivalent to 75 percent of the allocated study time for each level and with formal assessment by observation or examination (as appropriate) conducted by independent professionals.
- Competence in a denoted specialism (M Prof) and generic skills (M Mgt) cannot be certified at professional Master (level 5) until candidates have met all pre-specified requirements and successfully completed an oral examination with an independent examiner who is an acknowledged expert in the specialist field.
Graduates are not permitted to claim competence in subject-specific fields unless the stipulations relating to expert curriculum, facilitation, research (as appropriate) assessment and external examination have been met. However, it is permissible for graduates to mention in their curriculum vitae or on their website that they possess a GULL M Prof (Leadership Development) or M Mgt and that their development pathway included a professional project application in their work-related specialism. It is not the role of GULL to verify competence in subject-specific areas, and abuse of this principle is a violation of the GULL code of practice that authorizes GULL’s honorary officers and affiliated organizations to act on its behalf.
GULL graduates may only use the post nominal abbreviations: M Mgt – a generic award (applicable if the candidate holds a managerial or leadership role) or M Prof (Specialism) where the specialism denotes verified competence in the related professional skills.
Doctor of Management (D Mgt) and Doctor of Professional Studies (D Prof)
GULL’s professional Doctor pathway is intended for GULL M Mgt or M Prof graduates, aged 30 and above with substantial managerial or leadership experience. They must demonstrate that their studies have led to a broad, strategic impact in their organizational setting prior to completion of the pathway. The most relevant D Prof pathway specialism is ‘Leadership Development’ because GULL’s purpose is to assist participants to become more effective professionals. Alternatively, if an affiliated organization focuses on a change process or cause such as ‘Good Governance’ the change process or cause can be used to denote D Prof pathway certificates (in brackets).
GULL has no provision for curriculum-led subject specialisms at this level and graduates are not permitted to claim competence in subject-specific fields. However, it is permissible for graduates to mention in their curriculum vitae or on their website that they possess a GULL D Prof (Leadership Development) or D Mgt and that their development pathway included a professional project application in their work-related specialism. It is not the role of GULL to verify competence in subject-specific areas, and abuse of this principle is a violation of the GULL code of practice that authorizes GULL’s honorary officers and affiliated organizations to act on its behalf.
GULL’s professional doctor pathway always leads to practical action and strategic change with candidate verified return on investment. Please note that GULL does not offer academic research-based pathways. Competence in leadership development, a cause or change process (D Prof) and generic skills (D Mgt) cannot be certified at professional Doctor (level 5) until candidates have met all pre-specified requirements (including evidence of the effectiveness of the change process and quantification of the return on investment) and successfully complete an oral examination with an independent examiner with prior examining experience at this level.
GULL graduates may only use the post nominal abbreviations: D Mgt – a generic award (applicable if the candidate holds a managerial or leadership role) or D Prof (Leadership Development or an approved ‘cause’ or ‘change process’ aligned with the expertise of the affiliated organization).
How can GULL help my organization?
GULL’s approach blends working and learning so that these two activities (so often separated) are integrated. Every user organization (no matter how large or small) is able to take full ownership and utilize the GULL system ‘in-house’ to address its own unique challenges in keeping with its own ethos, culture and priorities. It does not require specialist qualifications, skills or resources to implement the GULL system but it does require a commitment to people, to learning and to enhancing professionalism.
GULL’s systemized learning process is probably the best way to retain and develop people, to help them to sustain their learning and to foster, facilitate and recognize skills development and attainment. It is an approach that virtually guarantees high performance at low cost and enables anyone and everyone to participate in a practical way. GULL is ready to provide you with a practical, systemized approach to lifelong learning that helps people to work more smartly, to feel better about themselves and to sustain their own active learning and development.
For a detailed explanation of GULL’s mission and mandate, please read the GULL Story (Parts 1-3) at www.gullonline.org/about Please see: the ‘About GULL’ section. The first article explains GULL’s mission and mandate, the second outlines GULL’s pathways to professional qualifications and the third article profiles the role of GULL’s network of representatives.