Students’ and Academics’ Experiences of a Recognition of Prior Learning Process for Admission to Postgraduate Studies


RPL has been entrenched in key elements of South African national policies since 1994, along with transformation, equity, redress, lifelong learning and access. In view of the need for to have their previous knowledge, skills and competencies recognise. RPL serves as a tool to enhance access to university studies. National policies for RPL not only provide a strong enabling environment for RPL within an open distance and e-learning (ODeL) context, but also support the transformation agenda within a changing higher education context. The paper is based on research done at the University of South Africa (Unisa) to explore whether the RPL access process for admission to postgraduate qualifications adequately prepares RPL candidates for postgraduate studies. Considering the academic demands of completing a master’s or doctoral degree, it is relevant to monitor the success of students who gain access through the RPL process. In a qualitative constructivist research inquiry the research found that RPL candidates’ prior learning, exposure to different learning contexts and support during all phases of the process influence their motivation to complete their postgraduate qualifications. Aspects of the RPL assessment approach are similar to the key aspects of sustainable assessment, such as self-assessment and reflection, which contribute to an assessment for learning approach. The value of the RPL process is that it serves to bridge the gap between diverse contexts of learning. Following a holistic approach to RPL the process contributes to both the personal and academic preparation for further studies.


RPL, Access to Post Graduate Studies, Sustainable Assessment


Assessment and Evaluation


Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


  • Dr. Maria Snyman
    • Specialist and Acadmic Coordinator, RPL, Unisa
    • I am an RPL academic coordinator at Unisa. I completed my PHD (2013) in Curriculum Studies, with the title, The influence of the learner profile on RPL assessment. My experience in both higher education and in the private sector as lecturer, educational consultant, course designer, facilitator, assessor and moderator stand me in good stead for my current responsibilities. I manage the RPL process on the Unisa Science Campus and train academic staff on RPL matters. I have a background in language teaching and applied linguistics. My interests are the adult learner and the personal empowerment and development of people. I have conducted national and international workshops within Africa on the Implementation and Management of RPL, the RPL practitioner and portfolio development.