Recognition of prior learning and credit transfer


We are committed to widening access to higher education and encourage applications from prospective students who do not have formal entry qualifications. As part of this commitment, the university supports the principle of recognising prior learning wherever it occurs.

Make use of previous qualifications and informal learning

Provided the learning can be assessed, it may be recognised and credit awarded to a formal programme of study allowed. We also encourage prospective students to apply for recognition of previous formal qualifications for credit toward specific qualifications with us. You can also use previous informal learning for personal development and we have prepared a guide which details how to use such learning to prepare for university study, see the downloads section on the right of this page. 

What does this mean for me?

If you have already taken part in learning, either formal for which you have received a certificate, or informal learning (e.g. work or community based) that you did not receive a certificate for (i.e. it was not a formal course of study), then you could use this learning to gain SCQF credit towards a programme with the university. You could claim credit towards certain modules, or an entire year(s) of study.

How do I apply for RPL/Credit Transfer?

The first step is to speak to admissions staff for your new course.  They will consult with academic staff to advise you whether your prior learning would be suitable for RPL, although they cannot give an indication on whether you will be successful.  The application will be considered by the staff.  If successful, the university will inform you of your award of credit.

What is the university looking for in a claim for recognition of prior learning?

Regardless of the method used to present the evidence, it is important to consider how well it relates to your application.  You may also want to assess your own prior learning according to these principles, which are also used by those who will assess your application:

  • Acceptability, i.e. the match between evidence you provide and learning outcomes of the modules of the course you are applying to.  Is the evidence acceptable in terms of being reliable and valid?  Your course leader will be able to advise you on these points at the application stage.
  • Sufficiency, i.e. is the evidence presented sufficient to demonstrate the achievements claimed?  In the case of formal learning, an academic transcript and certificate is usually sufficient evidence to make a claim.  Informal learning is assessed differently, usually by an assessment exercise or portfolio, your course leader will be able to advise on the most appropriate method.
  • Authenticity, i.e. can you demonstrate that the evidence is clearly related to your own efforts?   In the case of formal learning, this is usually demonstrated with a certificate.
  • Currency, i.e. is the learning of current relevance?  Has the learning which is being assessed occurred in the last five years? If not, is a good case made for its continuing relevance?  As a guide if you have been working in a related field and keeping your knowledge up to date, a case can usually be made for the award of credit, even when the qualification was gained a significant time ago.

If you are awarded credit, this is applied in 20 credit multiples as this corresponds to the credit value of UHI course modules.  Prior formal and experiential (i.e. not certificated, or work - based) learning may be considered for RPL. Your claim can include a mix of formal and experiential learning. 

When to apply

Ideally applications should be made in advance of the commencement of studies.  In circumstances where this is not possible, you may enter the chosen programme on the understanding that if your application for RPL / Credit Transfer is unsuccessful you must complete any modules for which accreditation was not granted.