Survey on Recognition of Prior Learning

17 Mar 2017

In 2015 NZQA undertook a survey on Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) – the purpose of the survey was to help inform the development of future policy and guidance.

RPL is an area of growing relevance for today’s learners. People want their skills and knowledge recognised wherever they go, and RPL is a key part of this.

How people learn and gain qualifications is changing. People are increasingly doing small components of learning that they want recognised. NZQA is working on recognising badging and microcredentialling, and expanding the learner’s Record of Achievement to show smaller components of learning.


Key findings from the RPL survey

There were sixty-six education organisations that undertook the survey, approximately 10 per cent of the sector. There was a good cross-section of the organisation types: private training establishments and institutes of technology and polytechnics, as well as one wānanga, two universities, and an industry training organisation.

Provision of RPL

Many of the respondents offer RPL, usually as credit toward a qualification or for entry to a course, and, more rarely, for an entire qualification.

Barriers to offering RPL

Many respondents observed that RPL was difficult to do well because it could be time consuming and complex. This also meant that RPL could be expensive, for both the organisation and learner.

Respondents said, that for learners, the main barriers were a lack of awareness that they could request RPL, the cost, and the difficulty of the RPL process (for example, because of the kind of evidence required for an RPL assessment).

Training in providing RPL

Staff members who conduct RPL are often academics, administrators, or specialists in the field. They may not have specific RPL assessment experience or expertise.
Some respondents said they provided no training for their RPL assessors.

For more details please see the summary of findings from the survey (PDF, 280KB).

So where do we go from here?

NZQA will continue to work to encourage education organisations to provide RPL, and make learners more aware of their RPL options.

In 2017 NZQA will:

  • raise the profile of RPL with education organisations and learners

  • provide education organisations with guidance on good RPL practice and processes

  • give learners more information on where and how they can get RPL

  • better integrate RPL requirements into NZQA Rules.

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