Concepts relating to RPL

Recognition of prior learning is a process by which learning that has already taken place prior to enrolment on a programme of study is given a value. This learning process may have taken place formally through an education provider or informally or non-formally through work/life experiences. The recognition process consists of:

Identification of learning, which refers to measures that enable learning acquired in various situations to be recognised as part of studies and a degree. This learning may have been acquired through formal studies or a variety of non-formal and informal means, including life and work experience. Identification does not always lead to recognition in the form of an official certificate, but forms the foundation for potential accreditation. Identification offers a basis for documenting student achievements.

Recognition (validation/accreditation) of learning, which indicates measures and practices used in making learning achievements transparent, and documenting and evaluating them. Recognition focuses on actual competence and its substantiation. Recognised studies will be transferred to the study register as completed studies.

Formal learning consists of learning that occurs within an organised and structured context in an educational setting, typically a school or other institute of education. This type of learning is systematic, with specified learning outcomes, learning time and learning support, and leads to a diploma or certificate. Formal learning is intentional from the learner’s perspective. Examples: university, university of applied sciences, open university.

Non-formal learning consists of systematic learning with specified learning outcomes, learning time and learning support. From the learner’s point of view, non-formal learning is intentional. Examples: adult education center, folk high school, open college.

Informal learning, also known as experiential learning, is defined as learning resulting from daily life activities related to work, family or leisure activities. It is not structured in terms of learning objectives, learning time or learning support. Informal learning may be intentional but, in most cases, it is incidental or random. As a result, it does not lead to certification.

Concepts relating to RPL decisions:

RPL, or recognition of prior learning, shortens the time necessary to complete a programme by reducing duplication of learning. RPL falls into three categories: credit transfer, substitution and inclusion.

Credit transfer applies to learning acquired through studies, training, work experience, free-time activities or civic activities and the accreditation of this learning towards a degree or a study unit (obligatory and optional studies). This learning may have been acquired either before or during university studies.

Substitution refers to studies conducted elsewhere with equivalent content, level and learning outcomes that can be used to compensate for courses in the curriculum.

Inclusion refers to the process where studies completed elsewhere are integrated into a degree, for example, as optional or elective studies.

Last updated: 1.6.2016