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Recognition of Prior Learning

What is Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)?

RPL is a process for entry and /or credits into a qualification offered by Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). The RPL process is lengthy and complex, involving portfolio building, attendance of knowledge enhancement workshops, tests presentations and/or demonstrations. If your application is approved, you are granted an opportunity to complete a qualification to enhance your career.

CPUT offers three options for RPL:

  • Access into first year if you do not meet the entry requirements of your chosen qualification.
  • Exemption – RPL or credits from certain subjects/courses within your chosen qualification.
  • RPL for Advanced Standing into postgraduate studies. An RPL option if you don’t meet the entry requirements of a Post Graduate Diploma, Masters or Doctor degree

When can you apply for RPL?

  • 23 years of age or older.
  • 5 years working experience in a field relevant to the qualification
  • If you have an incomplete qualification or a QCTO qualification less than 360 NQF credits, 3 years relevant working experience will suffice for the RPL application.

The steps in RPL are the following:

Step 1: Decide What to Study

Decide what you would like to study and which qualification you are interested in studying.  Ideally, that should be in line with the work, interests or hobbies you have. 

For RPL, all your learning is taken into account. This can include, but is not limited to, formal and informal work, voluntary work, sports, hobbies, interests and other activities that lead to learning of a substantial nature. 

  • RPL is done against qualifications offered by CPUT.
  • Only a limited number of academic departments accept RPL applications into one or more of the qualifications they offer.
  • To see if the qualification you are interested in is listed, click here. A limited number of qualifications are available for RPL. This list is reviewed by the RPL Unit and the relevant Faculty from time-to-time.


For a limited number of qualifications

RPL Applications for the Academic Year 2025:

Undergraduate applications is closed.
Closing date for Postgradaute Diploma and lectured Master’s Degree studies: 15 July 2024 .
Closing date for thesis based Master's and Doctoral studies: 1 October 2024.

Contact details

Step 2: Type of RPL you want to apply for?

2.1 Gaining access into first-year

If you have considerable work experience – more than five (5) years – that is related to the course you want to study, but you don’t meet the academic requirements for entry into the first year of the programme, you may want to apply for RPL for access. 

Think carefully about the course of study you would like to study; this is your career that you are building for yourself. Select one qualification that you want to pursue.

2.2 Exemption - RPL

You might have gained knowledge in specific areas through informal learning and non-formal learning. If this knowledge is closely related to a subject or more as part of a CPUT qualification that you want to enrol for, you may want to apply for exemption RPL or credits.

In this case, your knowledge will need to be compared to the learning outcomes of a particular subject(s) to be recognised. Once the assessment is done, the University might give exemption from some subjects, but not for the entire qualification.  We can only grant 50% of the qualification through exemptions.

2.2.1 Application for re-admission after 10 years.

If you studied with CPUT (or its feeder institutions) more than 10 years ago and would like to resume your studies, you have to apply for re-admission. You apply for re-admission using the RPL process.

CPUT knows and understands that due to various factors you decided to take a break from your studies. With your incomplete qualification, you might have been able to work in the field of discipline you studied in—the qualification you did originally has been phased out.

The RPL process allows you and the University to evaluate your knowledge against the current qualification. CPUT uses the Exemption – RPL route to determine which subjects in the current qualification you can be granted exemption(s) for and which subjects you will have to complete. RPL can only be for 50% of a qualification.

You apply for RPL for exemptions as in point 2.2. Your original studies will be considered, as will be your work experience. When you apply, please take note that the qualification might be offered on a full-time basis only.

2.2.2 Difference between Exemption RPL and Exemption Credit Transfer

Exemption Credit Transfer: you may have successfully completed subjects at another Higher Education Institution in South Africa (another University of Technology) - that are similar to subjects in a CPUT qualification you want to study, which is referred to as formal learning. In this case, you may apply to be exempted from having to redo the subject(s) and have the credits transferred to your CPUT qualification. Contact the relevant Faculty Office. 

Guidelines govern the maximum number of subjects for which Exemption RPL and Exemption Credit Transfer can be granted. In terms of the residency clause, students must complete at least 50% of the subjects in any programme at the institution awarding the qualification – i.e. at CPUT. Guidelines apply to all higher education institutions in SA.

 2.4 Access into the Advanced Diploma. 

You may apply for access into one of the Advanced Diplomas if you don’t meet the entry requirements of this qualification. The qualification at the lower level, the Diploma, is never awarded to you if you apply for this type of RPL. However, on the successful completion of the higher level qualification, the Advanced Diploma, this qualification will be awarded.  

The RPL assessment takes place against the qualification at the lower level. When applying for RPL for advanced standing into an Advanced Diploma, you complete the screening questionnaire for the Diploma underpinning the Advanced Diploma.

2.5   Advanced Standing into postgraduate studies into Post Graduate,  Masters Degree-level studies and Doctoral-level studies.

If you are interested in postgraduate studies at the Post Graduate level, M-level or D-level, you are required to give an overview of your qualifications and career, reflecting on the knowledge you have developed. In addition, you are required to give an indication of the topic for your thesis.

2.6 International students and International Qualifications.

International applicants should have their qualifications evaluated by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), Unit for Evaluation of Foreign Qualifications, before you submit your RPL application. (Go to www.saqa.org.za.)  

If your qualification has been evaluated but you do not meet the entry requirements of the programme you are interested in, or you want credit for what you already know, you apply as an international student and for RPL as described above. In addition, you also submit your SAQA evaluation of your qualification(s) with all the other documentation required for International students by the end of June the year before you would like to undertake your studies if you are not a South African with a foreign qualification you are required to follow the instructions for International Students as stipulated on this website.

Step 3: Motivating your RPL Application

Once you have decided on one qualification you want to study, you can start with your RPL application. The first step is to write down and explain the reasons for your Application on paper, before you include it on the form. You are required to provide an overview of your working life such as your CV and prepare certified copies of any certificates you have completed. Click here to see the list of qualifications available for RPL. Select the qualification you are interested in and click on the hyperlink. This is the form we would like you to complete.

Step 4: The RPL Process

RPL provides an opportunity for you to identify your learning and have it assessed and formally acknowledged. The process involves identifying, mediating, assessing and acknowledging knowledge and skills obtained through informal and non-formal learning. 

Upon receiving your RPL application, the relevant academic department will determine whether your RPL application is feasible based on the information you have submitted. 

Feasibility depends on the nature of your work, experience and knowledge developed throughout your life in relation to the qualification you are applying for. If the department has determined is not the case, you will be notified, and the University will suggest alternatives you can consider.

If the department is of the opinion that your RPL application is feasible, you will be invited to participate in the rest of the RPL process. The process is qualification specific, and the academic department and/ or the RPL unit will inform you. 

It might involve one or more of the following:

  • Development of a portfolio of evidence, and you will be invited to a portfolio building workshops or given information by the academic department
  • Workshops to upgrade your knowledge in relation to the entry requirements of the qualifications followed by tests
  • When submitting a portfolio, you might be asked to attend an interview and/-or do a presentation
  • You might be asked to submit examples of your work, do a demonstration or participate in an OSCE (in Health Qualifications).

During the workshops either for knowledge enhancement or portfolio building you will be asked to complete an application to CPUT, via the CPUT website. You will be given instructions in June to apply.

PLEASE DO NOT SUBMIT A NORMAL APPLICATION VIA THE WEBSITE. You have to wait for the RPL option to be available in August 2024.

Step 5: Payment for RPL

You are required to pay the RPL fee:

R 350 for advanced standing per subject in a Diploma

R 500 for access into a qualification

The RPL fee is payable once the RPL process starts, not at the application stage. The RPL Unit will inform you of the amount you are required to pay once the RPL process starts in May.

Account Name: CPUT
Bank: ABSA
Account number: 011 625 10521
Branch code: 632005
Reference: RV01/52422 with your student number or ID number

Step 6: Development and Submission of evidence

RPL is a complex and lengthy process, and the timelines within the process are as follows:



Portfolio development/Knowledge enhancement workshops

May - July 2024

Application to CPUT via the CPUT website (SOS or Wizard system)

August 2024

Submission of Portfolio

August 2024

Interviews / Demonstrations

July - August 2024

Feedback on Application

October - November 2024

Step 7: Decisions made by the University

The decision to grant a person RPL is an academic decision made by the University. The decision is primarily made by the academic department and confirmed (or not) by the Senate of the University.  If the University approves your Application, you will receive an email from CPUT informing you of your RPL outcome.

If your RPL is not approved, you will receive a letter from the University informing you. Either the academic department or the RPL Unit will give you reasons and make suggestions regarding your future education.

As an RPL applicant, you have a right to appeal if you are unsatisfied at any stage of the RPL process. You are required to contact the RPL Unit if you want to appeal – send an email to:  rplpostgrad@cput.ac.za@cput.ac.za.   In the email, please explain the grounds and reasoning of your appeal.