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Recognition of Prior Learning

What is Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)? RPL provides an opportunity for you to identify your learning, have it assessed and formally acknowledged. The process involves the identification, mediation, assessment and acknowledgement of knowledge and skills obtained through informal and non-formal learning.

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, interest or hobbies you have. For RPL all you learning is taken into account this can include, but is not limited, to formal and informal work, voluntary work, sport, 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


Contact details   - Business qualifications, or  - all other qualifications, OR for Post Graduate applications







Once the RPL Unit receives your RPL application by the deadline stipulated above and your invited to the RPL process, you will be assisted to apply to CPUT on-line.

Don’t attempt to use the on-line application system without the assistance of the RPL Unit.

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

CPUT offers three options for RPL:

  • Access into first-year for applicants older than 23 years with at least five years relevant working experience
  • Exemption – RPL from certain subjects/courses
  • RPL for advanced standing into postgraduate studies.

2.1 Who can 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.

2.2 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.

2.3 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. 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.

2.3.1 Application for re-admission after 10 years.

If you studied with CPUT (or its feeder institutions) more than 10 years ago, and you would like to resume your studies in, you have to apply for re-admission. You apply for re-admission using the RPL process. CPUT knows and understands that due to a variety of factors you took a decision to take a break in your studies.  With your incomplete qualification, you might have been able to work in the field of discipline you studied in. The RPL process affords you and the University an opportunity 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. Depending on your knowledge and changes to the curriculum you might be required to re-do subjects you did originally. Depending on the registration status of the qualification you did originally vs. the current qualification CPUT might not be able to grant you more than 50% of the credits. You apply for re-admission after 10 years by doing the following:

  • Apply online using your original student number, ticking the RPL when asked for your matric result.
  • If the qualification is listed that you would like to return to, please complete the screening questionnaire as required and upload it as part of your on-line application when promoted to do so.
  • If the qualification you are wanting to return to is not listed - complete a short portfolio of evidence and email it to Guideline for the portfolio can be found here

If you did study at CPUT more than 10 year ago, and you would like to study a different qualification than the one you did originally, you may apply for RPL for exemptions as in point 2.2. Your original studies will be taken into consideration.

2.3.2 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 Diploma if you don’t meet the entry requirements of this qualification. This type of RPL provides for the recognition of knowledge at a higher level than you as an (normal) applicant qualifies for. 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 Post Graduate, M-level or D-level studies, you are required to give an overview of your qualifications and career, reflecting on the knowledge you have developed as a result. In addition, you are required to give an indication of topic for your thesis. Click here for a guideline.

Once you have complied the relevant documentation and the Degree that you are interest in, is available for RPL, apply on-line. If the degree you are interested in is not available, send an email to Post Graduate,, to enquire on the possibility of RPL into the degree.

2.6 International students and International Qualifications. International applicants should have their qualification evaluated by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), Unit for Evaluation of Foreign Qualifications before you submit your RPL application. (Go to If your qualification has been evaluated but you don’t meet the entry requirements of the programme you are interested, 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 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 stud, you can start with your RPL application. The first step is to send us an email, explaining why you want to study this specific qualification. You also need to point out to us why you are applying for RPL. You are required to write an email to the RPL unit, explaining the following:

  • Name,
  • email address,
  • cell phone number,
  • your age,
  • what work do you do – paid or unpaid
  • qualification you are interested in,
  • in 500 words or less explain why you are interested in this qualification,
  • in 300 words or less why you are applying for RPL.

Step 4: The RPL Process

Upon receiving your RPL application, the relevant academic department will determine, based on the information that you have submitted, whether your RPL application is feasible. 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 that this is not the case, you will be notified, and the university will suggest alternatives that 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).

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 to 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 2022
Submission of Portfolio August 2022
Interviews/ Demonstrations July- August 2022
Feedback on application October- November 2022

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 guiding you through the online registration process that commences at the beginning of January, the start of the academic year.
  • 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.

Applicants, have a right to appeal if you are not satisfied at any stage of the RPL process. You are required to contact the RPL Unit if you want to appeal – send an email to:   In the email, please explain the grounds and reasoning of your appeal.