UNISA Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

UNISA Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

University of South Africa UNISA Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) – Your experience could translate into subject credits within your qualification or direct access into undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications.

During your lifetime, you will have acquired various skills, competencies and experiences. This learning – which may have taken place outside of formal education and training – is valuable, irrespective of where or when it was obtained. You may have acquired skills or knowledge from a combination of training conducted while at work, experience you gained in the workplace, short courses or from community work in a relevant field.

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RPL permits you to gain credits within formal certificate, diploma and degree qualifications offered by Unisa based on the level and extent of your knowledge. Your prior learning will be measured against specified prescribed learning outcomes.

Who can apply for RPL?

In order to apply for RPL you have to be 23 years of age or older with at least three years’ current, relevant working experience. Prior learning should have been acquired in one or more of the following ways: workplace learning, informal study for recreational/personal interest purposes, company/industry based-training, working with experts, or life experience.

You should apply for RPL if you feel that your prior learning meets the prescribed requirements of the equivalent module offered by Unisa. This could consequently earn you a module credit.

You will also need to comply with all the admission requirements of the qualification for which you wish to apply for an RPL credit.  Please refer to www.unisa.ac.za/apply for the admission requirements. You not may apply for credit in a module that you previously attempted unsuccessfully.

How do I apply for RPL?

Click here for the process.

The difference between RPL and subject exemptions (credit transfer)

If you want to apply for credit for modules completed at other universities, you need to complete and submit the DSAR04 form. The RPL office cannot assist with subject exemptions and credit transfer.


You should apply for RPL if you feel that the learning/experience that you have obtained meets the set requirements of the modules that Unisa offers and could earn you a module credit. This experience could have been gained:

  • in the workplace
  • through on-the-job training
  • in company and industry-based training
  • through relevant training programmes
  • in community work in a relevant field
  • through any relevant personal learning experiences
  • through relevant formal, informal and non-formal training

How long will it take?

You should allow yourself sufficient time before your next registration date. This will enable you to submit the necessary evidence of your prior learning to Unisa and allow the Unisa academic members of staff time to assess your evidence and provide any necessary feedback

Please note the following:  Should there be any module(s) for which you know you will not gain RPL credits, please register for it/them while continuing with the RPL process. In this way, you will not waste academic time while your RPL application is being processed. Once you have received feedback about your RPL credits, you may register for further subjects during Unisa’s registration periods, subject to the Unisa Admissions Policy.

What can you expect from the RPL assessment?

Your knowledge, skills and competencies will be assessed by an RPL panel based on the relevant evidence you submit. This may take the form of a challenge exam, an interview, a work-related project, or a portfolio (which contains records of your experience, knowledge and skills). You will be given further guidelines for each of the assessment options if your RPL application is successful.

If you are found to be ‘competent’, in that you meet the prescribed learning outcomes for the module, you will be notified accordingly by the university.

If you are found to be ‘not yet competent’ in a certain learning outcome, you may either be requested to do additional set work and be assessed at a later date, or you will be advised to follow the traditional route of study and register for the module.

Restrictions on RPL

  • A student may receive a maximum of 50% of credits towards a qualification. You must thereafter register and pass the remaining modules in the traditional manner before the qualification will be awarded.
  • A student may obtain access to a higher qualification via the RPL route, provided that he or she meets the admission requirements of the pre-requisite undergraduate degree. If you were granted access/advanced placement to a higher qualification via RPL, you will not receive a certificate relevant to the lower qualification, but merely be allowed to register for a relevant higher qualification, should you wish to do so.