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Recognition of Prior Learning

21 October 2010


What is Recognition of Prior Learning?   Recognition of Prior Learning  (RPL) is the acknowledgment of a person's current skills and ...

Recognition of Prior Learning

21 October 10

What is Recognition of Prior Learning?


Recognition of Prior Learning  (RPL) is the acknowledgment of a person's current skills and knowledge acquired through previous training, work or life experience. Briefly, RPL is a method, approved under the Australian Qualifications Framework, to establish your competency against a set of national standards using a range of alternative assessment criteria. RPL therefore recognises your life skills and the practical knowledge you have acquired no matter how or where. Most importantly, these skills and knowledge need not have been gained in a formal education setting.


Recognition of prior learning (RPL) may be defined in a number of ways, some more expansive than others. However, all definitions include the key notion that RPL involves the assessment of previously unrecognised skills and knowledge an individual has achieved outside the formal education and training system. RPL assesses this unrecognised learning against the requirements of a qualification, in respect of both entry requirements and outcomes to be achieved. By removing the need for duplication of learning,


RPL encourages an individual to continue upgrading their skills and knowledge through structured education and training towards formal qualifications and improved employment outcomes.


The AQF sets out the qualifications standards upon which RPL ultimately relies for its credibility. Under the AQF, each qualification Guideline provides for an RPL pathway as an ''alternative'' or ''non-institutional'' access point or source of credit. This keeps the system of qualifications open to recognition of the value of learning achieved outside the formal system, as part of everyday living in a continuum of learning throughout one''s life.


How is RPL Used and Assessed?


RPL is a learning pathway that can be used in two ways:

  1. As alternative mechanisms for access to a course or qualification. A student may gain entry to a course or qualification using credit transfer or RPL, as an alternative to having undertaken and completed the prerequisites for entry based on formal education and training. An example of this is a student who obtains a place in a degree in a university using RPL (based on life or work experience) or credit transfer (based on having completed an alternative course at an equivalent level) when they have not completed the senior school certificate; and/or,


  1. For the award of credit in a course or qualification, leading to the partial or full completion of the requirements for that course or qualification.


 In order to recognise prior learning it is necessary to compare the informal or non-formal learning you have achieved against the learning outcomes or performance criteria of the course or qualification for which you are using as a basis for seeking entry or the award of credit, and submit appropriate evidence to support your claim of prior learning.


What Evidence is accepted for the RPL Process?

The processes used to assess RPL applications may take several (not mutually exclusive) forms, for example:

  •          participation in exactly the same or modified versions of the assessment you would be required to complete as part of the full course; 
  •          assessment based on a portfolio of evidence;
  •          direct observation of demonstration of skill or competence; 
  •          reflective papers, journals or portfolios that relate past learning to the learning or competency outcomes of the current course or qualification; 
  •          provision of examples of work drawn from the workplace, social, community or other setting in which you may apply your learning, skill or competence; 
  •          testimonials of learning, skill or competence; and
  •          combinations of any of the above

All evidence submitted must be your own or directly relate to yourself and you will be asked to sign a document to this effect.


Tips for RPL Evidence Submissions:


To ensure you submit relevant and sufficient evidence for the RPL process, simply follow the guideline below:

  1. Read and understand the unit competencies first, before making a decision on applying for RPL
  2. Assess your acquired knowledge and skills for the unit and ensure that your are able to submit sufficient evidence for all the outlined competencies for that particular unit
  3. Gather relevant supporting materials as evidence
  4. Attach evidence for each separate competency for the unit
  5. Ensure evidence is relevant to the competency
  6. Supplying RPL evidence to support unit competencies is based on quality not quantity
  7. Ensure evidence folders are clearly labelled as to the unit competency the evidence is supporting


Who Will Assess the Evidence I Submit?


All submissions will be reviewed and examined by highly trained, qualified and experienced trainer/assessors with expertise in the subject, content or skills area, as well as knowledge of, and expertise in, RPL policies and procedures. RPL evidence submissions will be marked against the given criteria, assessment will be made based on:


  1. How closely you are able meet the given competencies
  2. The depth of evidence you submit
  3. The extent and scope of prior Learning you have acquired
  4. Your ability to provide relevant evidence and ultimately;
  5. Your ability to prove you are competent in the unit you are applying for


Support for Learners


Throughout the RPL process About Training Australia will offer support for those who need help or consideration.


About Training Australia is happy to offer the following support for RPL applicants:


  1. Students will be provided with advice about the assessment processes upon request
  2. Assistance in identifying the evidence required
  3. About Training Australia will attempt to accommodate assessment methods to the literacy levels, cultural background and educational background and experiences of students
  4. About Training Australia assessment methods provide for a range of ways for students to demonstrate that they have met the required outcomes


About Training Australia cannot help you decide which units to apply for RPL as this is a personal assessment based on past acquired skills and experience, although we are happy to help you and offer assistance for the RPL process.


When Should I Apply for RPL?


RPL is offered to students prior to, and at enrolment. It is also available at other times in the student''s enrolment in a qualification. It is recommended that students identify whether they will be applying for RPL before commencing the given course, although About Training Australia understands that this is not always practical. Some students may identify an opportunity for RPL perhaps half-way through the course, in which case we will endeavour to make this possible for you.