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Recognition of Prior Learning or RPL is the process for recognising learning that has come from experience and/or previous formal, non-formal and informal learning contexts. This includes knowledge and skills gained outside school, college and university, and outside formal learning situations such as through life and work experiences.


In 2014, QAA Scotland worked closely with the higher education sector to develop the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) National Framework for Scottish Higher Education. This RPL Framework was intended to support widening participation and workforce development. Eight years on, the need to promote widening participation and support upskilling and reskilling remains a high priority.


The aim of the current Enhancement Themes project - 'Valuing and Recognising Prior Learning and Experience' - is to review and update the RPL Framework to make it fit for a tertiary sector and provide a range of resources to support tertiary staff and students implementing and using RPL to develop, deliver and recognise more flexible and accessible learning.


Background resources


To support the project, we have undertaken a scan of UK and international RPL practice. The report of this scan, and its executive summary, explore the differing terminology, processes, frameworks and support for RPL across the globe.


Closer to home, QAA Scotland sought college and HEI practitioner views of RPL via a survey which explored the currency and use of the 2014 RPL Framework, terminology in use for RPL, and the benefits of RPL for institutions and students.


An additional survey of professional, statutory and regulatory bodies was undertaken to gauge the value of RPL for these organisations as well as the language in use. The findings of this survey are reported here together with a snapshot of accessibility of RPL information on these professional body websites.


Recognition of Prior Learning in Scotland - Practitioner Perspective Survey

Publication date: 01 Sep 2022

Recognition of Prior Learning and Professional Bodies

Publication date: 01 Sep 2022

review of the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) National Framework in Scotland

To direct the review of the RPL Framework, an Expert Review Group has been convened - bringing together practitioners from across the sector. We are delighted that Professor Ruth Whittaker, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education and Students) at the University of Brighton, has agreed to chair the Group; Ruth previously chaired the group that led on the production of the initial iteration of the Framework and will offer her expertise and experience to steer the process.

Our RPL Framework Expert Review Group comprises a wide range of Institutions and Sector organisations who have volunteered to help review and redevelop this widely used resource:

RPL Institutional Members
Aberdeen University
City of Glasgow College
Edinburgh College
Edinburgh Napier University
Glasgow Caledonian University
Heriot-Watt University
Open University in Scotland
University of Brighton
University of the Highlands and Islands
University of the West of Scotland
RPL Sector Body Members
College Development Network
QAA Scotland and QAA
SCQF Partnership
Scottish Qualifications Authority
Universities Scotland