Recognition of Prior Learning
Sometimes it can be difficult to find the time and effort to fit an entire course into our lives, especially for those already working and juggling other commitments. Despite the convenience of online courses, there can still be an issue with time. This is where Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) comes into play, where your previous skills, experience or qualifications can shorten the time it takes to undergo a course and allow you to become eligible for qualifications you may not otherwise be able to do.
What is Recognition of Prior Learning?
Under the Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) which regulates education in Australia, all students are entitled to have their previous skills, experience and training recognised to enhance their progression into and between qualifications.
Every Registered Training Organisation has different policies and procedures for assessing your eligibility for RPL, but the basis of the procedure stays the same. The experience and skills that you’ve gained throughout your work or school life can fast track you towards completing a qualification earlier, and lessen the time burden of having to undergo a course to get you closer to your dream career.
If you’ve undergone a qualification in a particular area, worked in a position that’s enabled you to undergo industry- relevant tasks, or simply been trained in-house through a company you’ve previously worked for; you may be eligible to apply for Recognition of Prior Learning through a course you’re interested in taking part in.
If the evidence is relevant to the course you’re interested in doing, this information will be assessed by the education provider running the course and they will determine whether you’re a suitable applicant. If they find your experience to suffice, you can gain credits towards your chosen course, and essentially, complete it in next to no time.
Do I need formal qualifications to apply?
If you haven’t done a formal course such as a Certificate or Diploma, then don’t worry, the experiences and skills learnt through a job can also be assessed, as well as any other non- formal learning. The evidence considered will differ slightly between education providers, but as a general rule some of the following documentation and evidence may be considered but it’s worth contacting your chosen provider for more information:
- Work history and a description of responsibilities
- Certificates and training as well as workshops taken part in through a previous employer
- Courses (non-formal) such as first aid etc.
- Performance appraisals
- Licences: working with children etc.
- Membership to Associations and the member criteria
- References from previous employers
- Volunteer work
- Other documents that showcase your skills and experience
What’s the Process?
The process changes between different providers, but they must abide by the AQF’s policy to provide a transparent and accessible process where every student is considered properly. Normally, a self-assessment in the form of a document will need to be filled out including all relevant work experience and qualifications already completed. This is usually done online, as well as an upload of any other documents which can support your case. All of this information will be reviewed by an assessor and if they feel it’s sufficient evidence, then an interview will normally follow.
Some important points to remember for the interview is to be prepared to discuss your previous positions, the work you did and the responsibilities you had. Make sure to keep it relevant to the course you wish to do and show some evidence of your accomplishments in the job.
What are the Benefits?
There are so many reasons to consider undertaking the process and applying for Recognition of Prior Learning. Not only can it significantly reduce your time spent studying a course but it can also allow you to become eligible for courses you may not have the previous formal qualifications needed to meet the criteria. As a general rule, if you’ve undertaken a formal course, the AQF has created a guide that registered training organisations should consider when determining the amount of credit your RPL can have towards a course;
- 50% credit awarded for a previous Advanced Diploma towards a three-year Bachelor Degree
- 37.5% credit for a previous Advanced Diploma or Associate Degree towards a four- year Bachelor Degree
- 33% credit for a previous Diploma towards a three-year Bachelor Degree
- 24% credit awarded for a Diploma towards a four-year Bachelor Degree
It’s important to note that the above is a suggestion from the AQF, however most of the time the credit will be negotiated between the applicant and the organisation. Certificates can also count towards RPL however, the amount will depend on the organisation. All formal qualifications must be relevant to the course you’re wishing to take part in.