In the midst of confusing terminology surrounding the whole idea of credit exemption in higher education, there is a big secret that few know about, and even fewer are talking about. Let’s demystify the various processes through which it is possible to get an exemption from certain university course modules and clear up the confusion once and for all!
What is ‘Credit’?
The problem is that more than one term exists to describe ‘Credit’, such as Credit Transfer, Advanced Standing, RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning) and RCC (Recognition of Current Competencies), so it’s very easy to get confused between them. But what is credit in its most basic form?
In any accredited course offered within the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), there are a number of essential units and modules which must be completed in order to receive the appropriate qualification. If you’ve already satisfied the required learning outcomes for some or all of these units and modules, there is no need to re-study them. You can be assigned a value of credit instead. This applies to Australian residents and overseas applicants who wish to gain exemptions from a course offered by a registered training organisation (RTO), college or university.
Credit therefore allows you to skip certain aspects of a course and reduce the overall amount of study time. For anyone who is eligible for a credit exemption, it’s a really handy way to fast-track your way through higher education and get qualified faster.
Take the free Skills Review to find out your eligibility to get credit exemptions through RPL.
What’s the difference between ‘Credit Transfer’, ‘RPL’ and ‘RCC’?
Most Australians have already heard of ‘Credit Transfer’, but only a small proportion are aware that there is another fast-track option available called Recognition of Prior Learning, or ‘RPL’.
According to the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), there is a big difference between the two, although they certainly complement one another in their application.
Credit Transfer is an administrative process that enables you to transfer successfully achieved learning outcomes from a previous course of study that will count towards you obtaining a new qualification. There are a few ways in which credit transfer can be used.
For example, Chloe has successfully completed a Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care. She is now eligible to transfer the total value of credit assigned to this course and skip any identical modules that are included within the Bachelor of Early Childhood Education and Care course. This equates to about 1 year of full time study (out of 3) that Chloe can get exempt from. Not a bad deal, right?
In contrast, David is in the middle of completing his Bachelor of Early Childhood Education and Care when he decides to move to another state. If he wants, he could enrol in a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education and Care course at a different university, apply for credit transfer and get an exemption on the course units that he has already covered before.
There is also a possibility to transfer some credit from an incomplete course of study into a new course entirely, as long as similarities in subject matter exist between the two.
Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is not an administrative process. It’s an assessment procedure used to determine what learning outcomes you have successfully achieved within an accredited course without necessarily requiring any previous formal education or study in that area.
Download the complete RPL Guidebook to learn more about the RPL process.
RPL assesses your current competency level in terms of what skills, knowledge and experience you have acquired throughout your life, regardless of how, when or where the learning took place, and allows you to obtain a qualification that is officially recognised within the AQF. It’s a great time and money saver because, like credit transfer, you don’t need to repeat your training in an academic environment if you already satisfy all of the necessary learning outcomes.
For instance, Emily satisfies all of the required learning outcomes necessary to receive a Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care. She has been employed in the child care industry for a number of years and developed most of her skills and knowledge on-the-job. Emily can also provide enough satisfactory evidence to prove that she is competent at diploma-level, by submitting a portfolio of her work, backed up with solid references from her employers and relevant qualifications, such as a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care. She’ll be entitled to get a Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care through RPL at a much cheaper rate than the normal course price.
Emily could then fast-track her way through a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education and Care. With her diploma she can also get a credit exemption for up to 1 year of full-time study out of a 3-year degree course. This could save her thousands of dollars in university course fees and enhance her career prospects sooner than expected.
Discover what fast-track qualifications you can get in just 4 weeks, by taking a Free Skills Review online.
In some cases, however, it might be necessary to get re-assessed on your existing competencies in order to meet specific industry or employer requirements and ensure your skills are still fresh and current. This process of allocating credit is known as Recognition of Current Competencies (RCC) and differs from RPL in that no new skill will be recognised or qualification issued.
What about ‘Advanced Standing’?
When a person is eligible for credit, they are considered to have an advanced standing on a course because they have already covered some of the prescribed units and modules. For this reason, ‘Advanced Standing’ collectively refers to all the processes through which you can earn credit and gain exemptions on a course. These include credit transfer, RPL and RCC.
What are the advantages of applying for credit exemptions?
• Saves time and money spent on unnecessary training or expensive course fees
• No repeat training or additional classroom study
• Faster way to achieve a nationally recognised qualification
• Faster way to re-enter the workforce
• Faster way to get promoted
• Faster way to advance your career