Information for Higher Education Institutions

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Atlantic Technological University Campus in Sligo.

RPL adds value to the work of higher education institutions and has a wide range of positive strategic impacts. These impacts align with some of the priorities of higher education, for example:

  • RPL is a critical enabler for lifelong learning. As Cedefop has observed, ‘the urgency of lifelong learning has never been clearer’: the speed of change in the labour market and in wider society means that building skills throughout life is more important than ever.
  • RPL is a driver for workforce development and helps institutions to respond more efficiently and effectively to the learning and development needs of employers. RPL is a key part of institutions’ relationships with industry and employers and is acknowledged as such in Ireland’s National Skills Strategy 2025.
  • RPL supports widening participation in the higher-education sector, including the integration of newcomers, and is identified as an objective in the new National Access Plan, 2022-2028.

RPL can be used by individual applicants for entry to a programme, credit towards an award or module exemption(s) and advanced entry. RPL can also be an important element in the development of customised learning solutions, co-created with employers for cohorts of employees. A number of case studies developed throughout the National Project highlight how workplace competencies, and informal and nonformal learning can be integrated into the content and learning outcomes of new or adapted programmes to support new educational opportunities for employees and organisational development for employers.

It’s also important to note that RPL and micro-credentials complement one another. RPL is relevant to the development of micro-credentials by ensuring that courses are sensitive to learners’ existing skillsets as well as employer/organisational needs. RPL may also be used as an alternative means for suitable applicants to satisfy entry requirements and of course some applicants may be in a position to apply for credit or exemption on a micro-credentials with their relevant prior learning.

Enhancing higher education’s capacity to practice and operate RPL in a manner which is coherent and consistent within and across institutions is a key part of the work of the National RPL in Higher Education Project. Research conducted prior to and during the project indicates a significant appetite across the sector for practical tools, resources and professional development opportunities to support staff to practice quality-assured, learner-centred RPL. The first step in this work was the development and agreement in principle of the Pilot Framework for RPL in Higher Education by our fourteen partner institutions. The majority are currently reviewing and updating their RPL policies to align to the framework (during the 22/23 academic year). The next step is to bring forward the practical tools and training opportunities to support the implementation of the revised policies. Keep an eye on our Resources & Tools and News & Events pages, for more on this work and of course, subscribe to our Newsletter!   

Trinity College Dublin campus
Trinity College Dublin School of Business

Benefits for Higher Education Institutions:

  • RPL candidates possess skills and experience that drive classroom discussion and class performance forward and are often acknowledged as exemplar students.
  • By embedding and enhancing RPL activity, higher education will become more accessible, flexible, and attractive to a wider range of learners.
  • By supporting the development of upskilling and reskilling opportunities, RPL strengthens higher education institutions' relationships with enterprise and enhances regional impact. 
  • The development of customised programmes which recognise the prior learning of employees may create new revenue streams.
  • RPL is a useful resource for supporting newcomers, including refugees, people in refugee-like situations and migrants,  to access and participate in higher education.
Mark Rogers, Acting President of University College Dublin

"UCD is delighted to be part of this sectoral project, to build a consistent and coherent approach to the recognition of prior learning across the higher education sector. Our goal is to firmly embed RPL into the culture of the university."

Professor Mark Rogers, Acting President of University College Dublin
The Benefits of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)
Developments in your Higher Education Institution
Project Network Meeting in TUS Athlone boardroom

To learn more about developments in your institution, visit your institution's RPL webpage.  

Find it here