Step-by-step Guide to the Accreditation of Prior Learning

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is a relatively new concept in Ireland. Not all training and education providers are familiar with or apply RPL procedures in their institutions. If learners are interested in returning to education, and completing a RPL process, they are encouraged to contact the education provider or centre directly and enquire if they offer RP for learners.

RPL in Ireland is managed in Ireland by ‘Quality and Qualifications Ireland’ (QQI). QQI are the national accreditation body for all education qualifications in Ireland, from EQF level 1 to 8. While QQI have developed guidelines for the implementation of RPL, how RPL processes are adapted and implemented is left to the discretion of the education provider. As such, the procedures for assessment and awarding RPL can vary greatly between education providers in Ireland.

These differences are not divided by regions or areas, but rather they depend on the type of learning being recognised under RPL and the type of education programme that the learner is applying for. These factors will influence the type of RPL assessment that will be developed by the education provider in question; as education providers will often design an RPL process on a case-by-case basis.

For the purpose of completing this step-by-step guide, in the next sections we will provide some examples of how RPL may be assessed in Ireland.

Education providers may have their own specific RPL application form for learners to complete to begin the RPL process – however this is not a requirement according to national guidelines.

Rather than requesting formal documentation, depending on the individual case, education providers may require applicants to complete a short interview, to perform a simulation task to demonstrate their learning, to prepare a portfolio of work or to provider other evidence of learning completed which may include:

  • samples, photographs or videos of your work
  • a practical 'on the job' assessment by a previous supervisor
  • answers to questions in an interview
  • a simulation of a work activity
  • letters from your employers
  • performance management reports
  • copies of documents you have completed at work
  • certificates
  • any other evidence that is valid, sufficient, authentic and current

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