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Recognition of Prior Learning

Recognition of Prior Learning

Recognition of Prior Learning in Higher Education Initiative

Our rapidly changing world calls for opportunities to learn throughout our entire lifetime to enhance our individual fulfilment, social cohesion and economic prosperity. Increasingly, the national and international community acknowledge that lifelong learning is key to addressing the multiple social and economic challenges faced by humanity. Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) makes visible and gives formal value to learning that has been acquired in a range of contexts, at various stages in a person’s life and is a key enabler of lifelong learning. Valuing and recognising learning can significantly improve an individual’s self-esteem and well-being, opening up new learning opportunities and strengthening employability.

This national initiative, which is a collaboration between the Technological Universities, the eight IUA Universities, and the Institutes of Technology,  is working to streamline and strengthen RPL across our partner institutions, so that larger numbers of learners, particularly those in the workforce, can benefit from higher education. 

Funded under the Irish Government’s Human Capital Initiative (HCI) Pillar 3 (Innovation and agility), this ambitious 5-year (2020-2025) €6.9m project has transformative potential for Ireland’s education system to become an international leader in the field. Our vision is that RPL will be an integral part of the higher education system, widely understood, celebrated and utilised as a flexible pathway to further learning, certification and professional development.

How does RPL in higher education work?

RPL is described as a process whereby evidence of learning (formal, non-formal or informal) that has taken place prior to enrolment in higher education is recognised and given value. A fundamental principle of RPL is that a learner is not required to relearn something they already know. Prior learning can count towards entry, advanced entry, credit or exemptions from modules. In some cases, people with enough prior learning may even obtain full academic awards. RPL is operated by higher education institutions in a variety of ways. For example, it may be available to learners on an individual basis and/or it may be sought by cohorts of employees (for the recognition of non-formal and informal work based learning), and accompanied by customised programmes. Cohort based RPL for employers often takes place within a pre-existing HE-enterprise partnership.

How can I find out more about RPL

Follow this initiative on the social media platforms Twitter @RPL_Irl and LinkedIn @Recognition of Prior Learning for real time updates on the development of RPL initiatives in higher education. The RPL project has links to learner testimonials and interviews with practitioners across higher education at www.priorlearning.ie. For information on RPL in specific higher education institutions, please contact:


HEI Project Leads & Members of AMBITION RPL Team

  • Karina Curley - DCU - karina.curley@dcu.ie
  • Dr. Philip Scanlon - DkIT - philip.scanlon@dkit.ie
  • Olive Kelly - ATU Galway - olive.kelly@atu.ie
  • Dr. Rebecca Roper - IADT - rebecca.roper@iadt.ie
  • Deirdre Harkin - SETU Carlow - deirdre.harkin@setu.ie
  • Sarah Johnston - ATU Sligo - sarah.johnston@atu.ie
  • Christine McCabe - ATU Letterkenny - christine.mccabe@atu.ie
  • Deirdre Goggin - MTU Cork - deirdre.goggin@mtu.ie
  • Margaret Finch - MTU Kerry - margaret.finch@mtu.ie
  • Carol Lynch - MU - carol.lynch@mu.ie
  • Suzanne Golden - NUIG - suzanne.golden@nuigalway.ie
  • Dr. Graham Glanville - TCD - glanvilg@tcd.ie
  • Jan Cairns - TU Dublin - jan.cairns@tudublin.ie
  • Anne Griffin - TUS Midlands Midwest - anne.griffin@tus.ie
  • Lyndsey El Amoud - UCC - l.elamoud@ucc.ie
  • Dr. Ciara Staunton - UCC - c.staunton@ucc.ie
  • Marian O’Connor - UCD - marian.oconnor@ucd.ie
  • Dr. Sandra Joyce - UL - sandra.joyce@ul.ie
  • Aishling O’ Toole - WIT - aisling.otoole@setu.ie

Ms Grace Edge is Project Manager for Recognition of Prior Learning (based at the Technological Higher Education Association, THEA) – grace.edge@thea.ie

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