Document Type

Conference Object

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Accessibility | Adult and Continuing Education | Education | Higher Education | University Extension

Publication Details

This paper was presented on the 4th September 2015, at the 18th Annual Irish Academy of Management Conference, held in the National University of Ireland, Galway.

© The Author(s) 2015.


Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is a process whereby evidence of learning that has taken place prior to enrolment on a programme of study is recognised and given value in the context of a destination award. In general terms, this includes the identification, recognition, evidencing and valuing of formal, non-formal and informal learning. RPL is used as a mechanism to facilitate participation in higher education. RPL is also of relevance to the workplace and those seeking to re-enter work as it supports the inclusion of work based and situated learning in formal academic programmes. In establishing the current landscape relating to Recognition of Prior Learning in Irish Higher Education, this paper will initially consider working definitions of RPL and follow with an exploration of the drivers and benefits of RPL. The literature review will outline RPL policy developments from an international and national perspective and follow with a review of RPL practice with respect to the Irish Higher Education landscape. The paper addresses the national and European contexts as the backdrop within which institutions develop policy and practice for RPL. Social responsibility is considered in terms of access and inclusion as well as provision of information and management of expectations through quality assurance mechanisms. Considerations include the concept of social justice. Following Hamer, the paper will seek to link social justice to Axel Honneth’s theory of recognition, exploring issues as perceived by practitioners within higher education (Hamer, 2013).