Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

What is RPL?

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is a process by which prior learning is formally valued.  It is a means by which prior learning is identified, assessed, and recognised by an educational institution as part of their programmes, courses and/or modules on the National Framework of Qualifications.  This makes it possible for an individual to build on learning achieved and to be rewarded for it.

Recognition of Prior Learning acknowledges the varied means by which learning happens and provides alternative routes to and through higher education. In so doing, it is a key component of lifelong learning and makes higher education more accessible and flexible. Also, it renders visible and gives formal value to the knowledge, skill, and competence that individuals have obtained.

This matters because learning happens everywhere – and all the time. It occurs in many contexts, including (but not limited to) on-the-job learning, involvement in social and community activities, through caring responsibilities, via sport and other leisure activity, or by means of life experiences more generally. 

‘Prior learning’ is defined as learning that has taken place but has not necessarily been assessed or measured. Prior learning may have been acquired through formal, non-formal, and/or informal routes.

Recognition of Prior Learning can be used for:
•    Entry to a programme
•    Credit towards an award or exemption from programme modules
•    Advanced entry to a programme

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Recognition for Prior Certified Learning (RPCL)

Prior Certified Learning is where an applicant has already been awarded a qualification for a formal programme or module taken at an institution or training organisation. This prior learning can be recognised on the National Framework of Qualifications and may entitle the applicant to:

  • Admission to a programme or course of study.
  • The award of advanced academic standing.
  • The award of exemptions from some parts of a programme.

Where prior certificated learning is the basis for RPL, the applicant is required to provide the relevant syllabus and a transcript of results.

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Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning (RPEL)

This involves the awarding of credit for learning from experience.

In this case, the candidate must demonstrate that the learning outcomes have been achieved by producing a Portfolio of Evidence to support the claim for access, exemption or credit (in some instances the assessor may decide to use an alternative method of assessment, e.g. project or examination).

As a general principle, credit is given for learning, not for experience per se. The portfolio of evidence must be written in such a way ensuring it is clearly demonstrated that prior learning matches the knowledge, skills and competencies of the module learning outcomes and/or relevant award standard for entry.

As part of the assessment the learner may be interviewed by an appointed assessor. Learners can receive support with developing their portfolio from the RPL Coordinator.

For Further Information or to Apply for RPL

If you interested in applying for Recognition of Prior Learning or require further information on the RPL process at ATU contact: