What is Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

What is Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

“Every experience in your life is being orchestrated to teach you something you need to know to move forward.” – Brian Tracy

We’re pretty sure this quote wasn’t written directly about Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), but the sentiment remains. Experience is invaluable, no matter how it’s earned. Be it through formal education, work experience or life skills, once you’ve learned something through experience, it’s moved you forward.

Here, we discuss how RPL allows learners to use their existing experience, skills and knowledge to gain credit and lessen the amount of time required to complete qualifications.

What is RPL?

Recognition of Prior Learning is a method that acknowledges skills acquired through formal, informal or non-formal learning. Learners who receive RPL will earn their qualification without the need to re-learn what they’ve already learnt.

ASQA’s Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015 state that training providers are required to recognise prior learning of individual learners unless the requirements of the training package or licensing requirements prevent this. [Read full]

Recognition of Prior Learning Process

Though the policies remain the same, each training provider will have their own RPL process. The AQF’s policy states that RPL providers must provide a transparent and accessible process that considers every learner fairly. A self-assessment form will be required that details all relevant work experience and qualifications completed. This can be completed online, with all supporting documents being uploaded and submitted to the RPL assessor.

A typical RPL process for training providers includes the following stages:


1. Determine evidence required

Evidence is at the core of RPL. Without evidence, training organisations will be unable to formally recognize any past experience. Depending on the desired qualification of the student, the evidence requirements will vary. A range of documentation may be used to apply for recognition of prior learning and covers formal, informal and non-formal learning.

2. Advice from training provider

Once training providers have identified the required evidence, advice should be given to the students. This will ensure that the evidence they submit is in line with the standards for the prior learning recognition assessment process. 

3. RPL Assessment

Next, training providers should actually assess the skills of the student. This must be done using the appropriate RPL assessment methods for the specific qualification.

RPL assessment methods should allow for reasonable adjustments to be made that consider the literacy level, cultural background and experience of the learner, and should not be used to evaluate skills such as literacy, except when they are essential to the learning outcomes of the qualification.

Next read: Learn about developing quality assessment tools.

4. Record outcome

The results of the assessment process should be recorded for future reference. While the AQF does provide guidance regarding the credit given for RPL, the final decision will be negotiated between the learner and the training provider. It is also important to note that all formal qualifications must be relevant to the course being applied for.

5. Report to stakeholders

The necessary internal and external stakeholders should be informed about the result of the RPL assessment.


RPL Credit Transfer & RTOs

The benefits for learners to apply for recognition of prior learning are many. Not only does it shorten the amount of time required to earn a qualification but it allows learners to become eligible for courses that they may not have the required formal qualifications for. This will be an especially attractive option for those learners who are time poor.

Communicating your RPL application process and making it as clear and straightforward as possible may be enough to set your RTO ahead of the rest. 

Find out how Cloud Assess can assist your RTO with turning work and life experiences into viable qualifications.


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