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UNISA RPL: An Opportunity to Study

Every person learns new things throughout their life. You may learn in a class, or in a less formal environment. Sometimes informal learning can translate into skills and experience. Your experience can make you an expert in your field, even though you never obtained a formal qualification.

Now, you want to get your qualification, but you wonder if your previous learning can help you. The answer is yes, you may have access to a formal qualification based on recognition of prior learning (RPL) if you meet the criteria for UNISA RPL approval. 

Why RPL is Important

Recognition of prior learning gives you the chance to receive credit towards certain areas of a formal qualification. UNISA RPL acknowledges that the experience, skills, and capabilities you have acquired during your career can be just as valuable as a formal qualification. You may have obtained this expertise through on-the-job training, attending workshops, or informal courses. 

The breadth of your knowledge will determine how much credit you can get for a specific qualification. Credits will be awarded after testing your expertise. Additionally, you must still complete other courses in the programme. However, you can obtain the qualification you dreamed of with the help of RPL. 

Also Read: A Guide on How To Apply At UNISA for 2020

RPL Requirements

You cannot qualify for UNISA RPL automatically. There is a process through which you must go, and you have to meet certain requirements. Applicants must be older than 23 years and have a minimum of three years of work experience. Prior learning must have been achieved through:

  • Workplace learning
  • Company training
  • Industry training
  • Life experience
  • Mentorship by experts
  • Informal studies 

RPL is only applicable to certain modules; you cannot use prior learning to obtain an entire qualification. Check the modules you intend to study and determine if the learning outcomes are similar to your experience. You can proceed with your RPL application if you feel your prior experience is sufficient, but this does not guarantee that you will receive the module credits. Additionally, you must meet the admission requirements for the specific qualification you intend to study. 


Most qualifications have modules that can be awarded through UNISA RPL. You can apply for RPL for undergraduate programmes, Honours, Masters, and Doctoral degrees. The RPL credits can make up a maximum of 50% of the total credits required for the programme. Each programme has its own requirements, which you must adhere to for registration. 

The benefit of RPL is that you may qualify to study a higher qualification. For example, you may want to apply for a Master’s degree but do not have an Honours qualification. Your RPL may be enough to qualify for a Master’s degree as the prior learning is similar in nature to the Honours degree. However, you will not be awarded an Honours certificate, you will only be able to register for a Masters degree. 

UNISA RPL versus Subject Exemption

Recognition of prior learning is not the same thing as a subject exemption. A credit transfer occurs when you have completed subjects at a different tertiary institution and have those credits transferred to your UNISA qualification; you are then exempt from completing the module. RPL stems from personal experience and not studies done at another university. 

Application Process for RPL

There is a set process that you have to follow when applying for recognition of prior learning. The process may differ slightly depending on the level of qualification you wish to study. For example, the Master’s and Doctoral programmes may include different steps than those used for undergraduate or diploma qualifications. 

Before your RPL application

  • Choose a programme you want to study.
  • Check the admission requirements to ensure you qualify for the programme. 
  • Apply for your selected qualification. 
  • Acceptance to UNISA allows you to apply for RPL. However, a rejected admission application cannot continue with the process as you have not qualified for the programme.  

Apply for UNISA RPL

  • Check modules to see which are relevant for RPL credits. 
  • Get further instructions from the RPL academic coordinator for your college. The coordinator will provide you with extra information about RPL, application documents, and banking details. 
  • Complete the required RPL forms and submit them to the RPL academic coordinator. You will need to include supporting documents as evidence of prior learning. Additionally, you must provide proof that you have paid the application fee.
  • The RPL Coordinator checks your documents and provides feedback. The process takes two to three weeks for every module but can take longer during examination and registration times. 

Also Read: Distance Learning: The Advantages and Disadvantages

Process after UNISA RPL feedback

  • The RPL academic coordinator will inform you about your application with one of three answers. 
    • You may require additional RPL assessment,
    • RPL credit has been given – no further actions are required; or, 
    • RPL credits have not been awarded. You will thus need to complete all coursework. 
  • The academic coordinator will inform you if further assessment is required for your RPL application. You have to accept the additional assessment in writing to move onto the next steps. Pay the required fee for the assessment. Academic staff can be contacted regarding the contents of the assessment.  
  • Prepare for the RPL assessment after contacting the college and obtaining more information. You are responsible for checking assessment dates. Submit the required projects and portfolios by the given deadline. 
  • Complete the RPL assessment. A panel will discuss your case after the assessment and decide whether to give you the credits. The panel may decide that you need to do additional projects and re-assess your skills at a later date. Alternatively, you will have to register for the modules and complete them in the traditional manner. 

Getting Ready for RPL

The entire RPL process can take up to three months to complete. It is best to start with the application three months before you have to register for modules. You can get more information about RPL and request application forms by sending an email to Additionally, you should continue with registering modules for which you have not applied for RPL credits since you do not want to delay your study time. 

Not every person can afford to start studying immediately after finishing school, which means they have to work. You may wish to formalize your work experience by obtaining a formal qualification. The UNISA RPL process is a great way to get credit for the learning you have already done throughout your career. 

Last Updated: 24 October 2019

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16 thoughts on “UNISA RPL: An Opportunity to Study”



    I applied for RPL at UNISA for a number of LLB modules, but need guidance on how to properly provide evidence of my competency, skills knowledge and experience to demonstrate what I acquired is equivalent to the module claimed for credit.
    According to the coordinator I have only informed them of what I have done or achieved in the past without demonstrating the outcomes of what I learned. How do I do this, as someone advised that I could provide documentary evidence such as court applications drafted by confirmed by attorneys I worked with in the past. Is there a particular format used to provide outcomes of what I learned. Please advice .

    1. In order to prove that you have learned from your prior work experience, you need to compile the following documentation:

      Portfolio of Evidence
      The following documentation must be contained in your POE:

      • Personal details and contact information
      • Table of contents listing the various sections of the portfolio
      • Full curriculum vitae expanded to include a detailed work history
      • Include a print out of the SAQA qualification you wish to be awarded
      • List of learning outcomes / standards for the award
      • Details of analysis recorded as COMPETENT / NOT YET COMPETENT with identified evidence referenced
      • Referenced / indexed listing of evidence – referenced to learning outcomes. For example, draw up a table, in one column list each specific outcome, in the next the assessment criteria, in the third your evidence, and finally the page number where the evidence is found
      • Copies of correspondence / application forms etc
      • Details of meetings with mentor
      • The POE must also contain a combination of direct and indirect supporting evidence.

      Direct Evidence

      Sometimes candidates must attend training to close specific gaps in knowledge and skill areas. Include your formative and summative evidence in your POE.

      • Project or work based assignments
      • Evidence of work based assessment – on the job assessment for work skills
      • Job specifications
      • Company organisation charts
      • Personnel records of in-house training and development
      • Accounts of personal experiences
      • Employer endorsement and / testimonials
      • Prior qualifications, Certificates of Education & Training etc
      • Training, assessment and test results
      • Curricula /course descriptions / outcomes
      • Staff training records / personal records
      • Products of work, samples of documentation / work undertaken, photographs

      Indirect Evidence

      Not all evidence needs to be created during learning programs. You can use evidence from the past 2 -3 years that shows what you already knew and managed to do before the program. (Check on valid time frames with your mentor. Some qualifications may only accept evidence from the past 12 months.)

      • Membership of related organisations and societies
      • General references
      • Newspaper cuttings
      • Other evidence – accounts of overseas experience, voluntary work etc

  2. Good day I want to study for next year my department will pay if I have acceptance latter from you, I want to study Public management, I have Community Development Worker and Site Tour guide both from Unisa my ID number is 7206025733086

    1. Unfortunately we cannot assist you with regards to an acceptance letter as we are only a provider of online study groups and study resources to Unisa students.


    1. While it is possible to transfer credits from one institution to another, Unisa only offers a Diploma in Corrections Management and then a Honours in Corrections Management, no BA. You can view the moving credits from one university to another here.

  4. Hi. I completed the RPL process and received a latter from Unisa.
    “Your RPL assessment has been finalised by the relevant RPL assessment panel. I have
    pleasure in confirming that in terms of a UNISA Senate decision, you have been granted
    direct access to the following qualification: Bachelor of Arts in Community Development (98618) This means that you have been exempted from all prerequisite admission requirements and can register for this qualification at any UNISA Regional Office during the next official registration cycle. Congratulations on this achievement.”
    However, I am bit confused, does this mean I have to follow the traditional routes to complete the degree or use deferent methods. please help me understand.

    1. You would have to register as per normal in January 2021. You will have to follow the traditional routes i.e registering online or when and if available, register at your nearest Unisa Regional Office.

      1. Good day
        I am currently working as a constable for almost 6 years at saps and I’ve tried to apply with unisa and could not qualify because I didn’t meet the required APS.l would like to start the process of RPL for a course aligning to my current duties.please advice of its possible with 14 of APS score.

        1. APS does not come into play when it comes to RPL. If you are going that route, please make sure that you provide everything needed from Unisa. Make sure that your work and life experiences are relevant to the qualification it is that you want to do.

          RPL would not work if, for example, you want to apply for a BSc if you work in law enforcement. You can try the RPL route but if you do not qualify, then I can suggest that you rewrite your Matric (Adult Matric) so that you can improve your marks and APS, giving you a better chance at applying for the qualification of your choice

  5. Hi,

    I wish to thank you for your advice and guidelines in the process of claiming RPL for law modules.May I send you one or two of the modules claimed which I strongly believe I have acquired the knowledge, skills and extensive practical experience of more than a decade of legal work as owner of a paralegal company.
    I can provide portfolio of evidence, verified by attorneys, advocates, judicial officers as being personally and independently drafted court applications confirmed by all the above. I need to use a proper format according to UNISA requirements to demonstrate and prove learning outcomes being in line with the specific outcomes and assessment criteria of that module, which are largely procedural law, substantive law and the Constitution.

  6. Hi I Sicelo Ndlovu, studied community development at Unisa with 26 Modules passed but not finished my Degree, I am a Community Development Worker for the past 15 years and wish to be considered for RPL

    1. You could either try to study at a TVET college and work your way towards studying a qualification at Unisa or improve your Matric results via doing your Adult Matric

  7. Hi,
    I want to apply for RPL for 2022 for a Post Grad Diploma. I’m currently unemployed and unable to provide the company aspect of the requirements i.e. company motivational, training records, company org charts, job spec etc. I do however have a Bachelor’s degree and over 6 years of experience in my field of study and pending PGDip. I also plan on enrolling for short courses in my field of studies/work later on this year and hopefully use those courses in time to apply in a timely manner for the 2022 RPL.
    Will me not having the company info. impact my application?

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