This article contextualises the use of accreditation for prior experiential learning (APEL) in European higher education by analysing the notions of desert and merit. We propose that the credentialising of certain types of knowledge can lead to a narrow definition of education which merely endeavours to serve consumer imperatives so as to market the individual in the work place rather than develop the essence of their being. The article advocates judgement not rules, codes or descriptors in making assessments of the worth of the personal and professional knowledge , experience and practices of claimants. We then argue that without such mechanistic criteria desert rather than merit should hold sway in the making of assessments. Moreover, we propose that desert more fairly represents an individual's achievements for the purposes of the owner of the achievement and for those would wish to make decsions based upon them.