Teaching & Learning Committee (v1.0)
June 2022 (v1.0)
New policy document.
(1.1) The University recognises that knowledge and skills can be acquired from a wide range of learning experiences, both formal and informal. Students at Abertay should enter a programme at a level appropriate to their prior learning and qualifications. The University encourages Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) as a means of providing entry to, or credit within, all programmes at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Such recognition will take place within the context of the QAA’s National RPL Framework for Higher Education and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). The University will support Schools in the implementation of RPL processes in all subject areas.
(1.2) RPL is an integral component of the University’s commitment to widening participation through supporting the provision of flexible routes into and through programmes at Abertay for all learners with the potential to benefit from higher education regardless of background. RPL supports flexible delivery such as work-based learning and part-time provision. Effective systems for RPL also support the University’s strategies in relation to learning, teaching and assessment; internationalisation; employability and graduate attributes.
(1.3) The SCQF guidelines make a distinction between two forms of recognition:
RPL for personal/career development, or formative recognition, is a process of recognising learning achieved outside formal education or training systems within the context of further learning and development. This form of RPL may take place as part of a guidance process. This process can be linked to confidence-building; identifying individual learning pathways; notional mapping of learning within the context of the SCQF; supporting the transition between formal, non-formal and formal learning; and preparation for the process of RPL for credit.
RPL for credit or summative recognition is a process of assessing learning achieved outside of formal education or training systems which is recognised, if appropriate, for academic purposes. RPCL can enable a learner to gain entry to a programme if the outcomes of their prior informal learning are judged as comparable to the entry requirements of the programme; and to gain credit within a programme if the outcomes of their prior informal learning are judged as comparable to the outcomes of the programme to which they seek credit.
(2.1) The University identifies two forms of RPL:
Recognition of Prior Certificated Learning (RPCL) or credit transfer is a process through which previously assessed and certificated learning is considered and, as appropriate, recognised for academic purposes. It can enable a learner to transfer credit gained within one programme of study to another programme of study at the same time or a different institution. Credit can be used from a previously uncompleted or completed award. The credit that is transferred can be used, where appropriate, as a foundation on which to build towards an award at a higher level or stage.
Recognition of Prior Non-Certified or informal Learning (RPiL) is the process of recognising and, if appropriate, assessing and then credit-rating learning that has its source in some experience which occurred prior to a candidate entering his/her current programme, but where that experience was not previously formally assessed and credit-rated at higher educational level. Informal learning is defined as knowledge and skills gained through life and work experiences as well as through non-formal (non-certificated) learning, development and training activities or programmes.
(2.2) The term entry with advanced standing refers to a student entering a programme later than the normal start point (e.g. directly into the second, or subsequent, level of a programme) thereby shortening the normal period of study.
(2.3) The RPCL system at Abertay supports the awarding of specific credit at an appropriate level towards or within particular programmes and discourages RPCL for general credit with no clear academic goal, i.e. credit that cannot be used towards an award or to permit entry to a programme of study.
(2.4) Prior learning for specific credit against university programmes through the RPCL procedure must be:
At higher education level (i.e. SCQF levels 7 to 12);
Directly relevant to the award sought; and
Supported by evidence.
(3.1) The University allows a student, or potential student, to use RPCL to allow them to gain:
RPCL for Entry to the first level of a taught programme, i.e. as an alternative to normal entry requirements if they can demonstrate appropriate knowledge and skills comparable to the specified entrance requirements. This is managed through the admissions process and enquirers should be encouraged to include evidence of their prior learning in their application to Abertay.
RPCL for Credit within programmes of study at undergraduate and taught postgraduate levels (including credit for elements of the programme, i.e. modules, or parts of a level, or for an entire level).
(3.2) Normally, all RPCL for Credit claims should be made before the module(s) has commenced. Once a student has commenced their study at Abertay RPCL for Credit claims against modules must be made no later than the end of week two teaching in term 1.
(3.3) RPCL as an entry route and a means of gaining credit within formal programmes of study should be embedded within curriculum design and explicitly addressed at the programme approval and review stage. Where possible, learning outcomes should be expressed in a way that enables a variety of different routes for their achievement as well as the use of flexible modes of assessment.
(3.4) The assessment of RPCL for purposes of entry to or credit within a programme must centre on the demonstration by the applicant of the skills, knowledge and understanding required to progress successfully within the programme. Therefore, the focus is on assessing the comparability of the outcomes of informal learning to those of the module or programme level, rather than seeking an exact match.
(3.5) A learner may combine both forms of RPL (RPCL and RPiL) in seeking entry to, or credit within, a programme of study.
(3.6) Articulation from HN qualifications or equivalent to SCQF levels 8 and 9 of degree programmes is a form of credit transfer, but this progression route is managed through the normal admissions process and not through the RPCL process.
(4.1) Normally, credit for a completed award can only be used to seek advanced standing to an award at higher level. Credit for a complete award cannot normally be used towards another award at the same level, as this would constitute double counting of credit. Credit from a complete award can be used towards another award at the same level only if the following criteria are met:
(4.2) The award towards which the student is seeking credit is in a different subject, vocational or professional area to their prior award at undergraduate or postgraduate level; or the award is at SCQF level 11 (Masters level) and enables the student to advance their existing subject, professional or vocational area in a new or specialist direction. The student can only seek credit for an equivalent Masters level research methods module in order to avoid unnecessary duplication.
(4.3) The ‘handing back’ of completed Abertay qualifications by students who exit at a level but subsequently return to register at a higher level of the same programme/pathway using the completed qualification as the basis of a credit transfer claim is implicit in the Academic Regulations.
(5.1) The maximum amount of credit that can be counted towards the award of a Bachelor’s degree or Honours degree is 240, unless the student is admitted under a specific articulation agreement that permits a higher amount. The maximum amount of credit that can be counted towards a Diploma in Higher Education is 120. No credit may be counted towards a Certificate in Higher Education.
The exception is:
For the BSc (Hons) Mental Health Nursing degree, entry to stage 3 is only permissible for those already holding a registered nurse qualification with the NMC in another field of practice and able to evidence experiential learning that aligns with the stage 1 and 2 learning outcomes2. Very exceptionally, a NMC-registered nurse could present a case to Academic Services for entry with higher volumes of RPCL (maximally 300 credits) to gain admission to the BSc (Hons) Mental Health Nursing degree.3
(5.2) The maximum amount of credit that can be counted towards the award of a Master’s degree is 60, unless the student is admitted under a specific agreement that permits a higher amount. The maximum amount of credit that can be counted towards a Postgraduate Diploma is 40. The maximum amount of credit that can be counted towards a Postgraduate Certificate is 20.
(5.3) RPCL is ungraded and does not count as credit undertaken at Abertay which has implications for a student’s eligibility to gain awards with Merit or Distinction for undergraduate and postgraduate level awards. Potential RPCL applicants should be aware that awards with Merit and Distinction at Abertay are considered solely on the basis of achieving all credit points required for consideration of the award with Merit/Distinction through completion of Abertay modules. Applicants can review the University’s Academic Regulations, including the requirements for the award of Merit and Distinction.
(6.1) The maximum amount of credit that can be counted towards the award of a Bachelor’s degree or Honours degree is 240. There are three stages to the RPiL process:
Initial advice and guidance
(6.2) Each stage should be integrated within programme and School quality assurance mechanisms.
(6.3) RPiL will involve the applicant in:
Reflecting on experiences
Identifying the learning within these experiences
Providing evidence of the learning claimed
This is to ensure items 1 to 3 are all aligned to the intended level of study.
(6.4) The key premise of RPiL is that:
Recognition is given for learning, not for experience alone
The learning that is recognised should be transferable and not just context-specific
Credit awarded as a result of RPiL is of the same value as credit gained through formal learning
The applicant is responsible for identifying and demonstrating their prior learning with appropriate guidance and support from staff.
(6.5) The Assessor’s4 assessment decision on RPiL for credit claim is passed to the RPiL Moderator5 and finally, Dean of School for approval, partial approval or rejection. Where appropriate and required for PSRB purposes, External Examiners may be involved in the decision-making process.
(6.6) Prior informal learning which has been successfully credit-rated should be clearly indicated on a student’s academic record.
(6.7) RPiL is ungraded and does not count as credit undertaken at Abertay which has implications for a student’s eligibility to gain awards with Merit or Distinction for undergraduate and postgraduate level awards. Potential RPiL applicants should be aware that awards with Merit and Distinction at Abertay are considered solely on the basis of achieving all credit points required for consideration of the award with Merit/Distinction through completion of Abertay modules. Applicants can review the University’s Academic Regulations, including the requirements for the award of Merit and Distinction.
(7.1) In line with the University’s academic appeals policy appeals cannot be made against the assessment decision on RPL. Appeals can only be based on the grounds of a material administrative error, or other material irregularity.
(7.2) In line with the University’s Complaint Handling Procedure a complaint is defined ‘as any expression of dissatisfaction about our action or lack of action, or about the standard of service provided by us or on our behalf’. Complaints in relation to RPCL decisions will, therefore, only be considered on the basis of the University’s definition. An appeal about an academic decision on assessment or admission is not a complaint.
(8.1) Credit transfer claims and RPL for entry without advanced standing to a programme incurs a fee of 25% of the module fee.
(8.2) Fees are normally charged for the assessment and mapping process that accompanies a RPiL for credit request. The fee is 50% of the cost of a module. A record of all support sessions (meetings, online chat, email, phone, review of documentation, etc.) will be kept. All students who are asked to generate evidence to demonstrate that their learning from experience is comparable to the learning embedded within a specific module(s) are required to pay the fee and this should accompany the submission of the supporting documentation.