It is the recognition of learning which has been gained in the past. This could include learning gained through experience, or a more formal learning programme such as a course or qualification.
RPL is an umbrella term to describe the processes used to recognise learning from the past. Depending on who you speak to, and the type of learning involved, you may have also heard RPL called:
• Accreditation of prior learning
• Accreditation for prior informal learning
• Accreditation of prior experiential learning
• Accreditation of prior certificated learning
• VAE (Validation d’aquis experience)
• Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR)
• Validation of prior non-formal and informal learning
• Credit transfer
And the list goes on …
To the average user of RPL this list may appear to be confusing (it is!) but these different terms are sometimes used to explain some of the subtle differences involved with recognising different types of learning, for different purposes. This guide attempts to explain some of the differences in a simple way, relevant to your needs.
Myth busting around RPL
• RPL isn’t just about getting formal credit or advanced entry into a formal programme of study; it could be used to build confidence, work on your CV or for career planning.
• Even though there is strong support for RPL, if you are intending to use it to enter a formal learning programme or gain exemption from part of a formal programme it is the decision of the organisation to which you are applying as to whether they offer an RPL process.
• There is no one way to ‘do RPL’; there are a wide range of approaches which can be used and the approach chosen will depend on what type of learning you would like to have recognised and what you are trying to achieve.
• You don’t need to have a strong academic background, or lots of qualifications, to undertake RPL.
• It isn’t just provided by formal learning institutions like colleges or universities, but can also be provided by training organisations, guidance workers, employers or other qualification or learning providers.
• RPL is not always automatically offered – you may need to request it.
• RPL is a voluntary process on the part of the learner, but may not always be accessible.
Some examples of this type of learning might include:
• Any formal learning, awarded by an awarding body, which has also been credit rated for the SCQF. For example an SCQF credit rated SVQ, or an award certificate or diploma which has been SCQF credit rated.
• Mainstream Scottish Qualifications or Units, such as HNCs, PDAs or Higher Education qualifications such as Certificates of Higher Education, Degrees, or Post-Graduate Certificated, or Diplomas.