Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL/RPEL)

The Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) enables people of all ages and backgrounds to receive recognition and formal credit for learning you have acquired in the past through formal study and through work and other life experiences. It is based on the premise that an individual’s learning can be identified and given credit within academic programmes, regardless of the context in which it is acquired.

Recognition of prior learning is available to students at the Northern College of Acupuncture, in order to ensure that students receive credit for any relevant prior learning they may have undertaken.

Applicants for RPL will be considered on an individual basis. You can claim for learning acquired through previous formal study via a process termed Recognition of Prior Certificated Learning (or RPCL) and for learning gained through other life experiences and study which has not been formally assessed via Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning (or RPEL).

Recognition of Prior Certificated Learning (or RPCL) – this is learning acquired from previous formal study. Academic, vocational or professional qualifications at an appropriate level may be admitted for entry on to a programme, for general credit within a work based programme or for specific credit which maps to a programme. Previous certificated learning must be cohesive with the learning outcomes of the programme of study and/or its constituent modules. To apply for this form of RPL you are required to submit a portfolio showing evidence of recent previous relevant study. Recent study is normally taken to mean within the last five years. Certificates and documentation to support the claim should accompany this. To be given specific credit on the programme, it must be possible to establish the level of the prior learning, and this must be at a Higher Education level. If the qualification was within the Further or Higher Education Qualifications Framework, credit is brought in at the mark/grade awarded. Credit transferred from NCA courses is also brought in at the mark/grade awarded. Credit transferred from other courses is not brought in with a mark/grade, Marked/graded credit awarded for prior learning is normally used in the calculation of the classification of the exit point award. Unmarked/ungraded credit is excluded from the calculation and in these cases the classification will be based solely on those assessments or modules which carry a mark/grade.

Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning (or RPEL) – this is learning acquired from other life experiences and study, including work-based learning, learning which is community-based or from a similar setting, and learning from experience and reflection. Note that RPEL is about your learning, it is not simply a reflection of experience alone. Experiential learning must be cohesive with the learning outcomes of the programme of study and/or its constituent modules. Applying for RPEL on the basis of your learning from prior life or work experience normally requires you to produce a portfolio of evidence of the learning gained from experience. You may obtain application forms and guidance notes from the College Registrar. Other ways in which we may assess your learning from experience include a focused interview or viva; completion of a piece of work and a reflective account/diary of the learning achieved, or completion of the usual assessment used to demonstrate learning in the module/programme for which equivalence is being claimed.

Credit awarded may be module-specific or course-specific.

1.1) Making a Claim for RPL

Responsibility rests with you the applicant for making a claim. You must have acquired appropriate knowledge and skill and you must support your claim with appropriate evidence. We will normally help you with the process of preparing an application for the recognition of prior learning. You should discuss this initially with the Registrar, who may suggest a meeting with you, herself and senior academic staff.

When you are making a claim for RPEL:

  • The learning you have derived from experience must be able to be identified in order to be assessed. We will help you to do this.

  • Prior learning is normally identified through systematic reflection on experience, the writing of clear statements about what was actually learned and the collection and collation of evidence to support those statements.

Where you are making a claim for RPCL the methods of assessment must be such that the judgement made can be overseen by the College’s Assessment Boards.

There are limits to how much credit can be brought into the course. The maximum allowed is not more than two thirds of the credit required for the qualification/award.

Following an evaluation of both certificated and experiential learning, exemption may be granted from part of the requirements of a qualification/award. The minimum exemption possible is exemption from the requirements of one module.

The RPL process can also be used to determine your eligibility for admission to a course if you do not satisfy the standard entry requirements. You will be required to provide satisfactory evidence of your ability to pursue successfully the programme of study for which you are applying.

You are advised to contact the College Registrar, Alison Edwards, in the first instance regarding this if you think you have credit which may be appropriate for RPL in your programme. Alison is normally in College every weekday. E-mail: , tel: +44 (01)904 343300.

You should submit your application to the College Registrar as soon as possible after your acceptance of a place on the programme and certainly before 30 November in the year of claim. Late applications will only be considered where appropriate justification is provided.

If you have gained Admission with Credit, you should use the Student Programme Handbook to familiarise yourself with the content, aims and learning outcomes for those modules from which you have been granted recognition. A claim for recognition means that you have achieved these Module and Course aims and that you are familiar with the content of the relevant modules. Later modules will assume this.

1.2) Procedure for deciding a claim for RPL

  1. Your application will be considered by the Registrar in consultation with one or more of the admissions staff.  They may ask you to provide further information and/or evidence before formally submitting your claim.
  2. When the Registrar considers your claim to be sufficiently robust she/he will submit it to the Collaborative Programme Accreditation Board. This is a joint committee with Middlesex University.
  3. The Collaborative Programme Accreditation Board will reach a decision, usually within four weeks, and the Registrar will inform you of the outcome within two weeks of a decision being made.
  4. Appeals against a decision of the Collaborative Programme Accreditation Board follow the Admissions Complaints and Appeals Policy and procedure.
  5. In order to ensure scrutiny of the process by the external examiner, all decisions of the Collaborative Programme Accreditation Board are reported, with the RPL mapping document, to the Module Assessment Board for the programme.

 

1.3) Principles of RPL at the NCA

  • If the College is satisfied that an applicant will be able to fulfil the objectives of a programme and attain the standard required for the award, that student may be admitted without having satisfied the standard entry requirements.
  • If the College is satisfied that an applicant has fulfilled some of the progression and assessment requirements of the programme by means other than attendance on the course, and will be able by completing the remaining requirements to fulfil the objectives of the programme and attain the standard required for the award, that student may be admitted with credit and may be admitted to an appropriate stage of the programme.

  • In exercising its discretion in this way the College will ensure that such admissions accord with good practice throughout higher education in the United Kingdom.

  • Credit may be through certified learning from a relevant institution, but may also include learning achieved through experience. Guidelines on what constitutes evidence of such learning are given below.

  • The maximum amount of credit awarded will be two thirds of the total credits for the programme of study.

  • The minimum exemption possible is exemption from the requirements of one module.

  • In determining a student’s eligibility for the recognition of prior learning, it may in some cases be necessary to require a student to undergo some form of assessment. Academic assessment is the responsibility of academic staff in the College, who may employ any procedure they believe is appropriate to arrive at a professional judgement.

  • Confirmation of eligibility for RPL rests with the Registrar, who will report annually to the Board of Studies on approvals granted.

  • The College reserves the right to charge a fee for the assessment of complex evidence of prior learning.

1.4) Guidelines on the Operation of the Policy:

  • Responsibility rests with the applicant making a claim to have acquired appropriate knowledge and skills and to support the claim with adequate evidence. The knowledge and skills demonstrated must be relevant to the learning outcomes of the programme or module.

  • Evidence for recognition of certified learning is likely to be successful if the applicant has gained those credits:
    • on a programme run at the Northern College of Acupuncture

    • on a programme at a UK University

    • on a programme at a University or similar institution overseas which is recognised by the College and/or its University partner

    • on a programme at a teaching institution which was fully accredited by the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board, European Herbal and Traditional Medicine Practitioners’ Association or Nutritional Therapy Education Commission at the time when they graduated
  • The applicant may need to present further evidence in cases where the applicant:
    • graduated from a teaching institution which was in the process of achieving full accreditation with the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board, European Herbal and Traditional Medicine Practitioners’ Association or Nutritional Therapy Education Commission at the time when they graduated;

    • completed their certified learning more than five years ago;

    • studied overseas, at a stated institution known to the College and/or its partner University.
  • Further evidence of certified learning which may be required of an applicant includes:

    • number of hours of study and length of the programme followed;

    • curriculum information which must demonstrate compliance with the learning outcomes of the programme and/or the core curriculum/education guidelines of the professional accrediting body;

    • for students for whom English is their second language, evidence of English language competence at the level required for entry to the course;

    • Where relevant, other certified evidence of achievement may be drawn from other Universities or the professional bodies of other organisations. Responsibility rests with the candidate to demonstrate relevance to the knowledge and skills described as learning outcomes for the module for which credit is sought.

  • Applicants may put forward a case for recognition of prior experiential learning. The learning derived from experience must be identified in order to be assessed. The identification of prior learning comes through systematic reflection on experience, the writing of clear statements about what was actually learned and the collection and collation of evidence to support those statements. The prior learning is normally identified in relation to the learning outcomes for the programme and/or its constituent modules. The consideration of the evidence should consider the following aspects:
    • Acceptability i.e. the match between the evidence and the learning demonstrated should be valid/reliable;

    • Sufficiency i.e. there should be enough evidence to demonstrate achievement of learning claims;

    • Authenticity i.e. the evidence provided should clearly be the applicant’s achievements;

    • Currency i.e. the evidence should relate to current learning
  • In the case of applicants who are applying for a post-professional registration programme, additional support for an application for recognition of prior learning can be provided by demonstrating membership of the BAcC, RCHM, CNHC, BANT or an equivalent professional body, and a minimum of two years’ experience as a practitioner.
  • Applicants for RPL will be given feedback on the outcome of their application. When the application for RPL is accepted, feedback will include the level and amount of credit awarded. When the application is refused, feedback will include the reasons for failure.
  • The amount and source of credit awarded through the recognition of prior learning will be recorded in the Diploma Supplement provided to students on completion of their award.

Further guidance on RPL processes (from the Quality Assurance Agency) is available at http://www.qaa.ac.uk/publications/information-and-guidance/pages/quality-code-b6.aspx

Approved by Academic Board 24/04/2014. Next review Spring 2018.