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The RPL project

The RPL project aims to narrow the gap between policy and practice by establishing a peer group concentrated on recognition of prior learning, supporting the implementation of recognition and validation procedures.

Project background

There are signs that there is a gap in policy and prac­tice in many countries concerning recognition of prior learning (RPL). The Bologna Implementation Report of 2018 indicates that alternative entry routes to higher education are rarely used. According to the report, only five higher education systems have nationally established and regularly monitored procedures, guidelines or policy for the assessment and recognition of prior learning.

Validation and lifelong learning are priorities within the European Union. Member states have adopted a recommendation stating that arrangements should be in place to validate individuals’ knowledge, skills and competences acquired through non-formal and informal learning in order to gain access to higher education, for credits or awards. The idea is that nobody should be required to study something they already know.

The RPL project was started to address these gaps in policy and practice and provide peer group based guidance and support in the recognition process.

Project objectives

The project's main objective is to encourage participating countries' use of peer learning to develop quality-assured and consistent working methods for recognising non-formal and informal learning that conform to the conditions of the participating countries. 

The participating Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) will benefit from the exchange of best practices, allowing them to improve their methods for recognising prior learning. Additionally, it should lead to a common understanding of standards and procedures when it comes to RPL and put focus on implementation.

After the project's conclusion, other HEIs will benefit with tested guidelines that will help them  increase access to their study programmes through recognition of prior learning. HEI staff working with student counselling, admissions and recognition as well as academic staff will also benefit from the project.

The main beneficiaries, however, are students and potential students. The largest expected impact is easier access to higher education and credit transfer through recognition of prior learning. This should facilitate alternative ways of entering higher education and promote lifelong learning.

Project partners

Partners in the project are national authorities from five countries: Austria, Croatia, Iceland, Ireland and Sweden, as well as Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), Ireland, and EURASHE. Each country has also appointed higher education institutions to take part in the project. The national authorities will provide the platform for national policy discussion. During the project, participating HEIs will test cases of RPL and support the development of practical guidelines.

Project timeline

The project runs for 24 months starting in April 2019.

Last updated: 16 June 2020