Recognised Prior Learning (RPL) an overview

Ever sat through a class or even a whole unit in a course where you already knew the content or skill being taught?  If you have it can be a frustrating experience, especially when you pay good money to attend the course.

RPL is the answer to this problem, simply explained this is where your institution recognizes prior experiences toward the qualification you want to achieve.

There are many different education providers who offer RPL including some specialist RPL providers.  Please ensure that you explore your RPL options with us BEFORE you enroll in a course where you are already partly or fully Qualified and experienced.

The RPL providers will assess what you have previously studied, and any previous paid work in a closely related field against the competencies of the course you want to apply for the RPL.

They may then be able to grant credit toward the completion of the course, which means you don’t have to sit through the material you already know.

The Australian Qualifications Framework has processes in place to recognise existing skills, education and training, and to apply credit towards a new educational qualification.  This is to allow students who can demonstrate that they already have the learning to not have to complete a course unit that is not relevant to them.

Note however that a course requirement often cannot be entirely met by RPL.  Often if a student has RPL for a large percentage of a course, they may be able to compete extra units in other areas related to the course, for example extra electives if core units are satisfied by RPL.

In very specific circumstances a you can be assessed for RPL of an entire vocational qualification.


Recognition of Prior Learning (“RPL”) is an assessment process allowing individuals to achieve all, or part, of a Nationally Recognised Qualification by demonstrating their knowledge, skills and experience around a particular topic. 


Contact us to find out more.  Aussie Education and Training can assist you to get your RPL assessment and save you the hassle of completing courses you already know.

Want to discuss an RPL assessment?

Call us now +61 2 8203 2999


Below is a more detailed explanation taken from the Australian Qualifications Framework.

Recognition of Prior Learning: An Explanation

Recognition of prior learning defined

Recognition of prior learning (RPL) is defined in the AQF as follows:

Recognition of prior learning is an assessment process that involves assessment of an individual’s relevant prior learning (including formal, informal and non-formal learning) to determine the credit outcomes of an individual application for credit.

This is underpinned by the AQF definition of credit as follows:

Credit is the value assigned for the recognition of equivalence in content and learning outcomes between different types of learning and/or qualifications. Credit reduces the amount of learning required to achieve a qualification and may be through credit transfer, articulation, recognition of prior learning or advanced standing.


Recognition of prior learning explained

The AQF facilitates the progression of students through qualifications by giving credit for learning outcomes they already have achieved. Credit outcomes may allow for entry into a qualification and/or provide credit towards the qualification.

Credit given may reduce the time required for a student to achieve the qualification.

RPL is one of a number of processes for establishing credit or advanced standing. RPL broadens access into formal learning by enabling credit to be given for student achievement though other formal, non-formal or informal learning.

RPL involves issuing organisations undertaking an assessment of each individual who applies to determine the extent to which that individual’s previous learning is equivalent to the learning outcomes of the components of the destination qualification.

Recognition of prior learning applied

It is the responsibility of issuing organisations to offer RPL assessment to students. Issuing organisations’ RPL policies and practices must ensure that decisions about granting RPL take into account students’ likelihood of successfully achieving qualification outcomes and ensure that integrity of qualification outcomes is maintained.

To ensure consistency, fairness and transparency, issuing organisations should establish a systematic, organisation-wide approach to RPL including policies and procedures that govern implementation.

The typical RPL process for providers consists of the following stages:

  •      identifying the evidence required
  •      providing advice to students about the process
  • providing students with sufficient information to enable them to prepare their evidence to meet the standard required for the RPL assessment process
  •      assessing using appropriate evidence-gathering methods and tools
  •      recording the outcome, and
  •      reporting to key internal and external stakeholders.

RPL assessment:

  • as with all assessment, should be undertaken by academic or teaching staff with expertise in the subject, content or skills area, as well as knowledge of and expertise in RPL assessment
  •     should be the same standard as other assessment for the qualification
  • should recognise learning regardless of how, when and where it was acquired, provided the learning is relevant to the learning outcomes in the qualification
  • must ensure that evidence provided is valid, authentic, current and sufficient and that the process is fair, flexible reliable and valid.

RPL assessment methods:

  • should include reasonable adjustment for the literacy levels, cultural background and experiences of students, and it should not be a proxy for the assessment of skills such as literacy except where these are intrinsic to the learning outcomes of the qualification component
  • should address the specific evidence required to demonstrate prior achievement of the learning outcomes and assessment requirements of the particular qualification components for which credit is sought
  • should provide a range of ways for individuals to demonstrate that they have met the required outcomes and can be granted credit.

These might include:

  • mapping of learning outcomes from prior formal or non-formal learning to the relevant qualification components – questioning (oral or written)
  • observation of performance in work based and/or simulated environments challenge examinations/assessments
  • consideration of third party reports and/or other documentation such as articles, reports, project material, papers, testimonials or other products prepared by the RPL applicant that relate to the learning outcomes of the relevant qualification component – consideration of a portfolio and review of contents, and
  • participation in structured assessment activities that individuals normally would be required to undertake if they were enrolled in the qualification components.

The assessment outcomes may enable the student to meet the entry requirements and/or components of the qualification. This may reduce the duration of the qualification. The agreed credit outcomes of the assessment of previous learning through RPL are specific to the individual. They may establish a precedent which can be used for other RPL assessments and potentially form the basis for future credit transfer agreements