Recognition of Prior Learning

The Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) in South Africa is critical to the development of an equitable higher education system that facilitates access to, mobility and progression within the Higher Education Sub-Framework. The purpose of the CHE policy on RPL is to develop and facilitate the implementation of RPL across the higher education sector and should be based on the principles of equity, access, inclusivity and redress of past unfair discrimination with regard to educational opportunities. The policy provides direction and guidelines for a dynamic and evolving system of RPL that will promote lifelong learning, whilst at the same time protecting the quality and standards of qualifications and higher education institutions. The University of the Western Cape has pioneered as a leader in the policy development and implementation of RPL within South Africa’s higher education landscape. RPL is an integral part of the Admissions Policy at UWC and finds expression in a range of services to support mature students seeking alternative undergraduate or postgraduate access into higher education degree/qualification programmes at UWC.

“Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is the formal acknowledgement of the knowledge, skills, expertise and capabilities that people possess as a result of the prior learning that may have occurred through formal, informal or non-formal means – through self-study, work or other life experiences.”

The domain of RPL is closely aligned to the main elements of the South African national policy discourse since 1994, with a specific focus of achieving transformation, accreditation, lifelong learning and complying with the National qualifications framework (NQF) of South Africa. The main purpose of RPL is to facilitate access to, mobility across and progression within the education, training and career pathways. Upgrading your skills and knowledge on the higher education and training level is a huge decision. Often this journey is exciting and daunting at the same time. One needs to be prepared financially, committed and self-motivated. Key factors in succeeding are hard work, focus, a thirst for knowledge, determination and responsibility. At least 10% of a cohort of students in a higher education programme should be admitted through an RPL process. The implementation of the National RPL policy at UWC is therefore a subset of student administration, student support, student success and throughput.