Information for Learners

Welcome, learner. Here you'll find information on how RPL can help you in your application to higher education institutions.

A lab technician adding a liquid to a container containing pink fluid.

RPL is described as a process by which prior learning is formally valued. It is a means by which formal, non-formal and informal learning can be assessed and recognised by a higher education institution. RPL may be used when applying to programmes and courses (for example, micro-credentials) or for credit/exemption at all levels of the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). 

The application process typically has 5 ‘stages’, these are:

RPL Application process, five stages
  1. Information: This is where applicants find out about what RPL opportunities exist in a higher education institution and how the process works.
  2. Identification: Applicants are asked to explore their experiences and learning to date with a view to making an RPL application.
  3. Documentation: Applicants undertake a reflective process and gather relevant materials to support their application. Some examples of materials may be CV’s and job descriptions.
  4. Assessment: The application is then assessed by a staff member in the higher education institution. A range of assessment mechanisms may be used including portfolios, interviews, essays or examinations.
  5. Certification: If successful, the learner will receive formal recognition or certification which can lead to:

                 I. Credit towards an award or exemption from some programme modules

                II. Advanced entry to a programme

               III. Entry to a programme

In some higher education institutions, RPL may also be used to gain a full academic award. The availability of full awards is at the discretion of each higher education institution.

RPL applications are assessed against the relevant criteria, for example, module learning outcomes or programme entry requirements. As part of the RPL application process, applicants will typically provide evidence that they have attained the learning outcomes or in the case of programme entry, evidence that they are sufficiently prepared for the programme of study. Evidence of attainment is subject to the same quality assurance standards which the institution applies to all its programmes.

If the application is unsuccessful (e.g. if the applicant is not granted an exemption or accepted onto a programme or course of study through RPL), any available options or supports will be outlined to the applicant. As noted above, the applicant may avail of the appeals procedure that is in place, which will be communicated to them.

Majella O'Hagan, a student of DKIT

Benefits for Learners:

  • RPL makes visible the valuable skills that people have acquired through work or other life experiences (for example, critical thinking and interpersonal skills). Valuing and recognising prior learning may significantly improve individuals’ self-esteem and well-being.
  • RPL enables individuals to access and participate in the higher education system. In so doing, it is a valuable tool in widening participation in higher education.
  • RPL may reduce the amount of time and cost required to acquire a qualification or credential and can have a positive impact on student success.
  • RPL supports the participation of learners of all ages in higher education, including older adults who may wish to pursue personal development and/or ‘second careers’.
Simon Hanratty, Chief Information Officer of Irish Life

"RPL helped me gain access to Maynooth University's Masters in Design Innovation. The experience was a very positive one and the advice I'd give to others is to believe in yourself. Don't underestimate the value of your experience and go for it!"

Simon Hanratty, Chief Information Officer, Irish Life
How RPL Helped Learners to Gain Entry to Higher Education
Where to Study
TUS Limerick library

Discover RPL opportunities and where to find them.