Recognition of prior learning (RPL) is the process of assessing someone’s relevant prior learning and existing skills to grant formal recognition.

In the Australian vocational education and training (VET) system, RPL is an important mechanism for people with pre-existing skills to gain formal recognition without having to undergo the traditional training process. In theory the RPL process saves time and money for individuals and business, but in practice it can be costly and lengthy, with training providers often finding it difficult to organise and manage.

This report explores, from a variety of perspectives, the volume and nature of RPL currently granted in the Australian VET system. Of particular interest are the areas where most RPL is taking place, including the qualifications being completed with high rates of RPL. The report also includes an analysis of the factors that most affect the likelihood of RPL being granted to a student.

Key messages:

  • There is limited granting of RPL in the Australian VET system and this has declined between 2015 and 2018.
  • In 2018, less than 5% of all successful subject results were granted through RPL and less than 3% of all students successfully completed any subjects through RPL.
  • A small number of niche qualifications are being predominantly issued solely through RPL, including over 90% of completions in the Diploma of Government Security, Advanced Diploma of Government (Workplace inspection/Investigations/Fraud control) and Diploma of Public Safety (Emergency Management)
  • There appears to be no single student or program characteristic that strongly predicts an individual being granted RPL. In the granting of RPL, many different factors come into play, including those at the student level (such as employment status) and those at the program level (such as field of study or the level of the program).
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