Recognition of Prior Learning

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL): An Explanation

RPL is essentially an assessment process. When an applicant applies for RPL,  they are looking to receive credit for their relevant prior learning – formal, informal and non-formal. The RTO reviews the application and determines credit outcomes. RPL broadens access into formal learning.


Credit can be defined as a value assigned to previous learning that is recognised as being equivalent to content and learning outcomes in a qualification.

Credit outcomes may allow for entry into a course or recognise learning outcomes already achieved that will reduce the time required to achieve a qualification.


RTOs must offer RPL to all students and it is their responsibility to provide an opportunity to all RPL applicants to demonstrate or provide evidence of previous learning. RTOs assess to what extent an applicant’s previous learning is equivalent to learning outcomes.

RTOs’ policies and procedures must ensure that any decisions made about RPL applications take into account the possibility of being successful in achieving qualification outcomes. They must also ensure consistency, fairness and transparency so that the integrity of those outcomes is maintained.

RTOs are responsible for establishing a systematic, organisation-wide approach to RPL. Applications should be assessed by staff with an appropriate level of expertise, both in the subject area and in RPL.

The evidence should be valid, authentic, current and sufficient.

The process of evaluation should be fair, flexible reliable and valid.

The RPL process should:

• identify the evidence required

• provide advice to the applicant about the process

•  provide the applicant with the information required to help them prepare to submit evidence

• assess RPL  using appropriate evidence-gathering methods

• record the outcome of an application

• report results to key internal and external stakeholders.

Examples of evidence can include:

– mapping of previous learning outcomes 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

–  consideration of a portfolio

–  participation in structured assessment activities