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The National RPL Project

Recognition of Prior Learning

About The National RPL Project

The National RPL project supports higher education institutions across the country in developing a shared understanding of what RPL is and what it offers while achieving coherence and consistency in policy and practice.  

The different ways people can and do learn — including informal and non-formal learning — are recognised in the provision of additional pathways to and through higher education.  It is a key component of lifelong learning, making higher education accessible and flexible.

It also reflects the needs of society and the economy for a continually skilled, adaptable and well-educated workforce, as well as the desire of people to continue to learn and acquire additional qualifications, change career paths, and adapt to changing circumstances. 

The National RPL in Higher Education Project is aligned with DCU’s commitment to transforming lives and society. DCU is one of 14 higher education institutions across Ireland (including IUA Universities, Technological Universities and Dundalk Institute of Technology) taking part in the Irish Government's Human Capital Initiative (HCI) Pillar 3 (Innovation and Agility) RPL project. This is a five-year national project (2020-2025) with a total budget of €6.9 million and co-sponsored by the Technological Higher Education Association (THEA) and the Irish Universities Association (IUA). The National RPL project works with a diverse range of key national stakeholders, including national education agencies, QQI, the HEA and Solas; the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (NFETL) and the RPL Practitioners Network; as well as employer and enterprise representative bodies, including IBEC and ISME who are also enterprise partners of the project. 

The project has three main aims:

  1. To continue to embed, streamline and promote RPL, particularly the recognition of non-formal and informal learning, across the sector in a manner that is coherent and consistent

  2. To work with employers to increase access and progression opportunities in areas of skill needs and development 

  3. To enhance the sector's capacity to operate RPL by developing useful tools, materials, resources and professional development opportunities for staff.

The project is coordinated by a Project Managment office based in THEA, with 18 Project Leads rolling out the project across 14 institutions.

Strategic guidance is provided by the project Steering Group, which draws its membership from senior sectoral leaders, enterprise, learner representatives, and national and international RPL experts.

Pilot Framework for RPL in Higher Education

The Pilot Framework was developed collaboratively by the 14 higher education institutions and agreed in principle by their Registrars. Its aims are:

  • to support higher education institutions in developing a shared understanding of RPL;

  • to achieve coherency and consistency in policy and practice within and across institutions and

  • to promote the continued mainstreaming of RPL.

The national framework shows that RPL is underpinned by two core values: 

  1. Learner-centred: The learner is central to the RPL process. A wide range of learners may wish to apply for RPL: RPL is for everyone.

  2. Quality assurance: The RPL process is embedded in the quality assurance procedures of each higher education institution and is aligned with the National Framework of Qualifications.

A copy of the Pilot Framework can be downloaded on

Recognition of Prior Learning Technical Definition

The Technical Definition for RPL in higher education was developed collaboratively by the 14 partner institutions and agreed in principle by their Registrars. Its purpose is to assist institutions in developing their capacity to collect RPL data. As a resource, the technical definition supports institutions in achieving consistency in RPL data collection, internally and sectorally.

A copy of the Technical Definition can be downloaded on