RPL stands for Recognition of Prior Learning, which is an assessment process that uses your already existing skills, knowledge, and experience to achieve a formal qualification or units of competency in place of study. RPL is a method of assessment that makes formal qualifications more accessible to people already in the workforce, building their careers.
The RPL initiative of SR21 aims to equip professionals with academic qualifications which will enable them to succeed in any workplace and further their careers. In addition, RPL through the credit transfer pathway allows anyone interested in obtaining a degree from Zurich, which is a world-renowned center for education and research, to advance their studies and achieve a degree from the prestigious and leading educational capital in Europe.
RPL is an initiative of global interest. The RPL initiative is based on the rules and regulations applied in Switzerland, with the added flexibility that the relevant rules and regulations regarding the RPL procedure in other countries (e.g. United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Scandinavia, and others) can be applied. This process can help individuals acquire a formal qualification that matches their knowledge and skills, and thereby contribute to improving their employability, mobility, lifelong learning, social inclusion, and self-esteem.

What is recognition of prior learning (RPL) ?

“RPL is the process for recognizing learning that has come from experience and/or previous formal, non-formal, and informal learning contexts. This includes knowledge and skills gained within the school, college and university and outside formal learning situations as through life and work experiences” [SCQF definition 2010]
RPL is a concept that enables individuals to have their learning and experiences recognized for a number of purposes that can benefit the individual, employers, and the economy which include:
• RPL for personal or career development;
• RPL to gain entry to an award or qualification;
• RPL for the award of ECTS points to gain exemption from parts of an existing program of study or to gain entry with advanced standing; and
• VNFIL (The Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning) to award vocational qualifications after assessment to specific occupational standards.

How does RPL work ?

RPL takes into account the skills you’ve already acquired in your field of employment, as well as the knowledge you’ve gained via study, school, and life experiences. An RPL evaluation utilizes your existing talents to fulfill the credits needed for a formal qualification.
One of the advantages of RPL is that it recognizes the value of learning in different settings. You can utilize your prior education, domestic and international qualifications, and samples of work experience. RPL also recognizes the skills and knowledge you’ve gained outside of a formal context. This qualification recognizes and values on-the-job learning. By combining all of your past experiences, RPL eliminates unnecessary repetition.
RPL works well because it recognizes the worth of what you’ve learned.

Why RPL ?

The process of looking back on your past experiences and reflecting on what you learned can help you take stock of your skills and abilities and set career and educational goals. In turn, these goals can help you begin to build upon what you already know and can do.
The RPL process makes it possible for educational institutions, workplaces, professional bodies, and other organizations to assess your knowledge and skills for the purpose of awarding credit, granting professional status, or advancing your career.
The RPL process can help you save time and money by filling in the gaps in your learning without having to repeat things you already know and can do.
Being awarded qualifications through RPL means that you don’t have to study what you already know. Instead, you provide evidence that you already have the knowledge and skills that studying the qualification would give you.

Who is eligible for RPL ?

Anyone can apply for RPL. The RPL process takes into account all relevant skills, knowledge, and experience that you have regardless of the way you got them. This includes experience and training you have gained through paid work, volunteer work, or just life in general. Through the RPL process, you may be able to gain a complete qualification or, if you have gaps in your knowledge, parts of a qualification. If you need to, you can complete the rest of the qualifications through training and a formal assessment.

Why should I apply for RPL ?

RPL is generally faster than completing a qualification from scratch and provides you with the opportunity to get:

• a promotion or more money;
• entry into a different career or job;
• entry to or credit in another course; and
• satisfaction from having your skills formally recognized.

The qualification you get is the same that you would get if you completed a full training qualification but with the added bonus that you won’t spend time in the classroom going over things you already know, making it faster.

Types of RPL

RPL is achieved when an individual can have their learning formally assessed and quality assured to successfully be admitted to or gain exemptions to components or parts of a formal qualification or award through the use of learning outcomes.
– Formative RPL is where the candidate is looking to have knowledge, skills and competencies assessed for personal or career development.
– Summative RPL is where formal ECTS credit is awarded and recognised as having the same value as credit gained in formal teaching institutions.
– Credit Transfer is when a candidate has gained a formal award or qualification, has received formal ECTS credit, and is looking to gain entry at an advanced stage or exemption from a component of another programme of study, where the learning outcomes of the first programme of study match the learning outcomes of the new programme of study. The credit can either be subject-specific or general credit if the learning is at the same qualification level.

Types of RPL degree schemes

The types of degree schemes that can be awarded via RPL are:

– Associate Bachelor’s degree (followed by the discipline of expertise, i.e. in Business Administration, Information Technology, etc.)
– Bachelor of Advanced Studies (followed by the discipline of expertise, i.e. in Business Administration, Information Technology, etc.)
– Master of Advanced Studies (followed by the discipline of expertise, i.e. in Business Administration, Information Technology, etc.)

What short of evidence do in need to provide ?

Prior learning can be assessed in a number of ways. One method commonly used is an assessment of a portfolio. The types of evidence required depend on the qualification you are seeking, and there are specific lists for each qualification. Here are some examples of the types of evidence you could provide for RPL:

  • Position descriptions
  • Academic transcripts, qualifications, and statements of attainment
  • Internal training documents
  • Documentation that reflects your role such as budget plans and projections, operational plans, risk management plans, training needs analysis reports
  • Documentation such as staff rosters, policy and procedure documents you have written or contributed to
  • Minutes of meetings you have chaired or participated in
  • Compliance records
  • Task lists
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • Observations from your workplace
  • Performance review/ staff appraisal documents
  • Incident reports
  • Any relevant licenses

The portfolio will document what has been learned, where and how the student learned it, and how the student’s experiences meet the requirements.

What if I can't find my old qualifications, can I still process for RPL ?

Contact the organization where you completed your studies as they may be able to provide you with a copy of your qualification. If you cannot get a copy of your qualification, you can still go through an RPL process, however, you will need to show your competence in some other way.

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