Recognition of Prior Learning

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RPL is “the comparison of previous learning and experience of a student, howsoever obtained, against the learning outcomes required for a specific qualification and the acceptance of such learning for purposes of qualification of that which meets the requirements” (SAQA Regulation 452, No. 18787, March 1998:5).

You can apply for RPL if you have developed skills and knowledge through work experience. Learning from experience refers to work experience, in-service training, self-study or life experience, such as voluntary or community work.

RPL is a process to recognise relevant knowledge and skills that can lead to access to an undergraduate or postgraduate programme at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) or to obtain credits based on work experience for a module in a programme offered by UJ.

When applying for RPL, you have to indicate whether you are applying for (i) access to a programme, (ii) credits obtained through work experience, or (iii) advanced standing.

These concepts are defined as follows:

Access means that you want to enrol for a postgraduate programme, but you do not meet the minimum requirements. As part of your RPL application, you have to prove that you have acquired the required skills and knowledge (i.e. competence) through work experience.

Credits refer to the formal credit value of a module(s). In your RPL request, you have to provide evidence that you have, through work experience, acquired the competence as described in the outcomes of that particular module. If your RPL application is successful, the credits may be allocated to you and you do not have to attend lectures or write examinations in this specific module.

Advanced standing means that you have acquired some of the competences described in the outcomes of the programme for which you want to enrol. If your RPL application is successful, you do not have to repeat the particular section of the programme (i.e. attend lectures, write examinations or any other form of assessment).


The following requests do NOT qualify as RPL:

  • Status for a qualification obtained outside South Africa.
  • If you have an existing qualification (from another higher education institution) and would like to continue your studies in the same discipline, you do NOT go through the RPL process. You follow the normal process of application.
  • Credits for a module completed at another university or another UJ department.

The following examples are NOT RPL:

  • You have successfully completed a module as part of another programme at UJ, or as part of a programme offered by another South African university.
  • You may request the recognition of the credits for the specific module as part of a different programme at UJ. Your application for credits follows the prescribed process for exemption as specified by the faculty where the module resides.
  • However, if you have the module outcomes through experience (i.e., not through formal studies) a formal RPL assessment may be conducted to assess your competence in a particular module. It then becomes an RPL application.
  • Obtaining a qualification without registering for it.
    RPL is NOT a process through which you can obtain a qualification without registering and studying for it. You can gain access to a programme through RPL, but a qualification is NOT granted on the basis of RPL alone. RPL is an acknowledgement that status equivalent to the prior qualification has been awarded for the sole purpose to access the qualification applied for.
  • Example: You need an honours degree to gain access to a master’s programme. If you do not have an honours degree, but after an RPL assessment process you are found to possess the knowledge and skills that are required of an honours student, you may then gain access to the master’s programme. You do not receive an honours degree, but the status of an honours degree is allocated on condition that you continue your master’s studies at UJ.


The following principles are applicable to RPL practices at the University:

  • Recognition of prior learning allows access to further (postgraduate) study by granting the status, but not the award of the prerequisite qualification.
  • UJ does not accept any form of RPL assessment undertaken by any other institution.
  • Any RPL granted is valid only for the period specified by the relevant faculty.
  • Admission to UJ, based on RPL, is subject to the academic regulations of UJ and the rules and regulations of the faculty.
  • Recognition is given only for current competence, as determined by the relevant faculty.
  • RPL is programme specific. Recognition is given only for learning that is aligned to the learning outcomes and assessment criteria of a specific programme or module, and not primarily on the content.
  • As an applicant, you will undergo a formal RPL process that usually involves a lengthy process – it is not a single event.
  • You will have to provide evidence (e.g. portfolios, challenge examinations, etc.) that must be assessed as relevant, sufficient, authentic and current.
  • Quality assurance processes guarantee the integrity and credibility of all aspects of the RPL process.
  • Two fees are payable: firstly, an RPL Request Fee (UJ Application Fee), and secondly an RPL Assessment Fee.
  • Once registered for a programme, you become a member of the student body and all UJ academic rules and regulations apply.

Important information

RPL is a lengthy process. Depending on the level of study, it can take months to go through the RPL process.

To go through the whole RPL process will require the payment of different fees, namely an RPL Request Fee of R200.00, and an RPL Assessment Fee payable if the request is submitted to a formal assessment process. This RPL Assessment Fee is the equivalent of the relevant module for which an RPL request has been submitted.

You cannot obtain a qualification through RPL − only through the successful completion of the programme will a student obtain a qualification.

UJ does not accept any previous RPL assessments that may have been done at or by another institution, regardless of why or when such assessments may have been done.

Will I qualify for RPL?

Do you want access/credits to a postgraduate programme (i.e. a postgraduate diploma, bachelor honours degree, master’s degree, professional master’s degree, doctoral degree or a professional doctorate) through work experience?


Is your learning from experience related to the postgraduate programme for which you wish to enrol?


Follow the application process below if you answered YES to both questions above. If you answered NO to any one of the two questions above, then you do not qualify for RPL.

Submit Application

Please take note of the following very important information:

The official closing date for RPL applications is 31 July 2024. This would allow you to register the following year if approved. Applications can be sent after the closing date but there is no guarantee that you, the applicant will be able to register in the following year. This is due to the long process.
Incomplete applications will not be processed.

  • Step 1
    Read through the guidelines above to assist you in determining whether you should apply for RPL or not.
  • Step 2
    Download and complete the UJ Application form – click here
  • Step 3
    Download and complete the RPL Request Form – click here
  • Step 4
    e-mail the following documents to

    • UJ Application form (downloaded and completed from step 2 above)
    • RPL Request Form (downloaded and completed from step 3 above)
    • Certified copy of National Senior Certificate or relevant school leaving certificate
    • Certified copy of academic record of highest qualification obtained
    • Certified copy of Identity Document (South African citizens) or Passport (International applicants)
    • Proof of payment of the R200.00 application fee (banking details on the UJ Application form) – which includes the RPL request fee

Please email the above mentioned documents in the following manner:

Each document must be scanned and attached to the email as a separate document

Use your ID number (South African citizens) or Passport Number (International applicants) as the subject of your e-mail
Ensure that the scanned file is a maximum of 512KB
Documents can be scanned as any of the following types – tiff, pdf, jpg or gif