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About RPL

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Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is a system whereby learning acquired through certified programmes and/or through experience can be acknowledged as a basis for entry onto formal programmes of study, and/or for gaining exemptions from parts of a programme of study.

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RPL is a generic term which incorporates Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL), Accreditation of Prior Certified Learning (APCL) and Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).

The purpose of RPL is to expand access to programmes and formal qualifications, and to reduce the time and cost of programmes for people who already possess some of the knowledge, skill and competence which a programme seeks to develop.

A European Union Policy

In 2004, the EU issued the Common European Principles for Validation of Non Formal and Informal Learning. Following this, the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI) issued its guidelines on RPL in 2005. This Code of Practice is consistent with the Common European Principles and the NQAI guidelines.

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is an important element of European Union (EU) policy for widening access to qualifications, and supporting lifelong learning. The Irish government, together with its European partners, has made a commitment to support RPL (

Ref. Government of Ireland, 1998, 2000; Qualifications (Education and Training) Act 1999).

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