Recognition of Prior Learning /Recognition of Prior Knowledge and Skills – OPBD Procedure

To be read in conjunction with
Approval Date
10 June 2023
Approved By
Te Kāhui Manukura
Executive Director or delegate
Baldrige Criteria
Customer focus

To provide operational procedures that enable ākonga to be assessed and recognised for prior learning (RPL) and/or recognised for prior knowledge and skills (RPKS) and awarded credit a programme of study/course or unit standard at the Otago Polytechnic Business Division (OPBD) of Te Pūkenga.


Advanced Standing (ADV): This is used when, following an APEL or qualifications equivalence, it is evident that ākonga can enter a programme of study at an advanced level.

ADV applies where RPL/RPKS application has been assessed for course/s, qualifications, and/or an APEL process in which the outcomes equate to at least sixty (60) credits towards an OPBD qualification.

ADV may include CC and CT, however, these will be indicated separately on transcripts. Programme of study regulations will clearly identify how ADV is determined and what assessment and evaluation processes are to be used. 

ADV will be annotated on the academic transcript documents.

Advisor/Facilitator: The Advisor/Facilitator is the kaimahi/staff member who gives advice to ākonga on the operation of the APEL process and negotiates with ākonga the particular form of assessment that will be required.

Assessment of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL): Ākonga must provide evidence that the learning outcomes in the Target course/s or Graduate Profile Outcomes in a qualification they have acquired from relevant experience in the workplace, community, or other settings and/or courses that have been completed elsewhere. An APEL assessment would consider the whole of ākonga learning from experience. This may result in a mix of outcomes including CC, CT, Advanced Standing (ADV), or a complete qualification assessment and credit where appropriate. 

Assessor: The Assessor is the kaimahi who makes the assessment judgement on the basis of the evidence provided by ākonga in accordance with the assessments agreed between ākonga and Advisor/Facilitator. In APEL, the Advisor/Facilitator and the Assessor are not to be the same. 

Credit Transfer (CT): Credit for the same course is applicable in situations where the Target and Source course/s are exactly the same entity. The course may be a local course or a unit standard.  Formal evidence must be provided by ākonga to indicate that they hold the relevant result. In the case of Credit Transfer (CT) for a unit standard, no result is sent as ākonga has already had this awarded. The Student Management System (SMS) automatically ensures this, provided the CT option is entered. 

Cross Credit (CC): Cross Crediting is applicable in situations where the Target and Source course/s are not the same entity. However, the material covered is equivalent. For CC to be awarded, the learning outcomes in the Target course/s must all have been adequately covered in the Source course/s. For example, a pass in a university paper may gain CC for a similar degree course at OPBD. 

Sometimes it may require more than one Source course to cover a single Target course, e.g., ākonga may need both Psychology 101 and Anthropology 201 to cover the learning outcomes for a single Target course in an OPBD programme of study.

In the case of CC for a Target course consisting of a New Zealand Qualification Framework (NZQF) unit standard, a result must be sent to New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). SMS automatically ensures this, provided the CC option is entered. This may in some cases require a small piece of further assessment to be undertaken. In such cases, once the assessment is complete, a CC would be entered. 

External Codes: The External Codes to be entered in the case of CC are to be the other business division/institutions course code/s for the Source course/s. This will appear on the other business division/institutions academic transcript. CC applications will not be approved unless the other business divisions/institution’s academic transcript or results notice is provided. 

Student Management System (SMS): The SMS is the electronic system in which ākonga enrolments and academic records are recorded. It is often referred to by the system name currently EBS or EBS4. 

The name of the Source course/s is also to be as per the other business division/institution’s academic transcript or results notice. External stakeholders must be able to identify the Source course/s on this database, so OPBD must use the actual External Codes. The SMS is able to provide reports detailing CC, RPL, and ADV. 

Source Course: The course for which ākonga/learner already holds credit. This may be another OPBD course or one from any other provider. 

Target Course: The course for which credit is sought. 

Verified Documentation: Any record of ākonga achievement presented for use in the RPL/RPKS process must be the original produced by the accredited provider (business division/institution) of the result/qualification e.g., Record of Learning, University Academic Transcript. Any copies of such original documents must be verified by the accredited provider (business division/institution) or a verified copy signed by a Justice of the Peace.

  1. Implementation and use of RPL/RPKS: Applications for RPL/RPKS from ākonga who are intending to or are enrolled in programmes of study are to be made on the generic application form (Appendix A Recognition of Prior Learning Form). 
  2. Information provided to ākonga must include information on the nature of RPL/RPKS and the course/s within the programme of study for which RPL/RPKS applications may be made.
  3. Scope of RPL/RPKS

3.1   Credit may be granted under RPL/RPKS for whole courses only.

3.1.a. Credit will not be granted for parts of a course. Prior completions of unit standards which form part of a course will be recorded for academic purposes, but this will not result in credit for the course itself until the other unit standards in the course are completed according to the completion requirements for that course. In such cases, ākonga will still enrol in the full course and pay full fees.

3.2   Unit standards-based programmes of study must be structured to allow a fair application of the RPL/RPKS policy. If the majority are likely to have already completed a particular unit standard/s, this unit standard/s should be left as a course/s in its own right in the programme schedule of the programme of study. Failure to structure the programme of study in this way would mean ākonga are required to enrol in the full course (and pay the full fee) even if they hold credits for all but one of the unit standards in that course. However, it is recognised that unit standards are assessment tools and should not be the sole driver of the structure of the teaching programme.

  1. Fees – refer to TKM Applying for RPKS, Section 3.2

4.1.  RPL/RPKS Assessment Fee: this fee is calculated on the time and resources required to assess the RPL/RPKS application.

4.2   Any outstanding RPL/RPKS Assessment Fees at year-end will result in the inability of ākonga to graduate and continued non-payment may result in the debt being forwarded to the OPBD debt collection agency.

4.3    The total fee charged cannot be greater than the fee that would be payable if ākonga enrolled in the Target course/s. As a guide, the total assessment fee should be no more than approximately one-third of the cost of the Target course or programme of study.

4.4   The RPL/RPKS assessment fee is not StudyLink loan/Fees Free/Trades Training Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF) approvable.  However, student loans may be available for any course/s that ākonga is required to complete as part of the APEL process subject to meeting StudyLink/Fees Free/TTAF eligibility criteria.

4.5     There is no application fee for RPL/RPKS however an assessment fee may be charged if there is significant evidence to be reviewed such as a portfolio detailing experience.

Type of RPL/RPKS

Assessment Fee

Credit Transfer


Nil for courses awarded within the Te Pūkenga network, Yes for courses awarded outside of the Te Pūkenga network, as determined by the Head of College or delegate


Cross Credit

Nil for courses awarded within the Te Pūkenga network, Yes for courses awarded outside of the Te Pūkenga network, as determined by the Head of College/or delegate

Assessment of Prior Experiential Learning

Yes – as determined by the Head of College, or delegate

Advanced Standing



  • If an RPL/RPKS application is received for more than one (1) course in a programme of study at the same time, it will be treated as a single application.
  • Where the result of an RPL/RPKS application requires withdrawal from a course/s the withdrawal will be enacted (refer to Withdrawal, Transfer, Cancellation and Refund - OPBD Procedure for Year XXXX) at the same time as processing the RPL/RPKS result. This may impact ākonga Equivalent Full-time Learner (EFTL) and financial assistance.
  • When discussing RPL/RPKS with ākonga the school/college kaimahi must clarify the consequence of the result of the RPL/RPKS on the ākonga EFTL status, as it may affect their entitlement to StudyLink loans and/or allowances. For ākonga nō tāwahi/international learners, granting RPL/RPKS with the subsequent path of study change may require a variation to ākonga visa.  
  1. Refunds – refer to the Withdrawal, Transfer, Cancellation and Refund - OPBD Procedure for Year XXXX).

5.1   The amount of any refund of tuition fees will depend on the amount of the assessment fee plus any NZQA fees and the resources consumed and will be determined on recommendation from the Head of College.  

5.1.a. Separate invoices are to be created for any RPL/RPKS assessment fees.

5.2   If RPL/RPKS is awarded for ākonga nō tāwahi they will receive a refund of the international fee for that course/s minus any assessment or equivalence fees that have been calculated in determining the RPL. 

  1. Assessment - refer to TKM Part 6 and the Assessment and Moderation – OPBD Procedure.

6.1. RPL/RPKS assessments will be conducted by Assessors who are experienced in the subject/content areas and are also experienced Assessors.

6.2. All RPL/RPKS Assessors must be trained in RPL/RPKS assessment methods and processes.

  1. Results - refer to TKM Section 3.3. Awarding Credit and Records Section 3.5).
  2. Appeals - refer to TKM Appealing Decisions, Section 3.4
  3. Responsibilities of Heads of College/or equivalent

9.1   Determining which course/s RPL/RPKS will not apply to and ensuring this is included in the approved programme documents. The rationale for not allowing RPL in a programme of study must be clearly articulated in the programme document, for example where an external agency requirement places limits on RPL such as the Nursing Council of New Zealand.

9.2   Ensuring moderation processes are in place and followed.

9.3   Ensuring that sufficient kaiako in the College/programme of study are familiar with RPL/RPKS and can act as assessors and advisors/facilitators for APEL.

9.4   Monitoring, reviewing, and revising College RPL/RPKS processes as necessary and at least annually.

9.5. Ensuring that fair, valid and reliable RPL/RPKS decisions are made regarding determining the equivalence of a course/s supported by evidence from subject matter/subject experts.

9.6   Ensuring the College documents the process and outcomes for RPL/RPKS decisions, informing ākonga of RPL/RPKS processes and the outcome of RPL/RPKS application and maintaining records pertinent to RPL/RPKS.

9.7. Providing Assessors for RPL/RPKS assessments.       

  1. Training for Advisors/Facilitators and Assessors: RPL/RPKS education is to be included in the ongoing Professional Development Programme of OPBD kaiako. 
  2. OtherAuthorities: Where OPBD carries out assessments and/or issues qualifications on behalf of an external authority RPL/RPKS procedures will be carried out only with the approval of that authority. 

12.RPL/RPKS credit at OPBD is available only for course/s in OPBD is accredited programmes of study. 

12.1 Timing of RPL/RPKS application such as CTs and CCs, APEL and ADV applications should be assessed and processed at the time of initial enrolment including the results entered in SMS.

12.2 However, in exceptional circumstances, with Head of College approval, RPL/RPKS applications can be made during the programme of study which are assessed and processed with results entered no later than six (6) weeks before the ākonga graduation date.