Beyond the Classroom – Strategic Development of Prior Learning

By Dalhousie University- Faculty of Open Learning

2024 RPL Applications are Now Open!

In Canada and abroad, rapidly changing labour markets and skills demands have led to a sharp increase in the number of non-traditional learners seeking additional training and credentials to fulfill career aspirations.

Here at Dalhousie University’s, Faculty of Open Learning and Career Development, we are in full swing to take our Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) program to the next level, across DAL Campus and throughout the province.  

As per James Martin, the RPL Manager at the Faculty, “We are currently experiencing a thrilling era, where people’s intangible yet highly valuable educational  experiences are finally being acknowledged throughout our province.”

Our program’s mission is to establish enduring partnerships with provincial sectors that foster relationship-building and long-term opportunities. We aim to expand our outreach to organizations, thereby maximizing training and upskilling prospects for individuals, through our collaboration and support with The Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration.

Dalhousie University, in conjunction with the province, has created a Community of Practice (CoP) composed of some of the most proficient experts in Recognition of Prior Learning (PLAR). This collaborative community aims to tackle the challenges associated with assessing prior learning and devise innovative solutions to enhance access and support adult learners more efficiently.

Across Dalhousie’s 13 faculties and administrative units, a great deal of prior learning assessment is being completed using an assortment of assessment processes offering students varied benefits from admissions, exemptions, advanced standing and advanced placement.

Moreover, from speaking directly with learners there is significant interest in having prior learning assessed to assist in achieving their academic goals. The central aim is and will always be helping as many students as possible at Dalhousie University and across the province, so we have deliberately developed an RPL process that is accessible to all learners, and easily adaptable by other institutions in the province. Furthermore, RPL can lead to greater self-confidence and opportunities for career advancement.

Martin emphasizes that, “Our RPL program remains a shining epitome of the faculty’s mission to provide a superior learning experience. This program has achieved noteworthy innovations in the assessment process, community of practice involvement, and overall awareness.”

By greater promotion and advancement of prior learning practices and process at Dalhousie

University, we have the opportunity achieve several key priorities outlined in our Third Century Promise pertaining to increasing access to higher education for Nova Scotia’s diverse populations and foster a clearly visible connection between the university and the communities in which we reside. In addition, by increasing access by eliminating some of the key challenges many mature learners face studying at our university, the increased diversity in our student population could greatly enrich our classrooms for both learners and faculty.

Overall, recognizing prior learning is an important aspect of lifelong learning and can benefit both individuals and society as a whole.

For more information about the RPL program or to register,  please visit Dalhousie University’s RPL webpage at Recognition of Prior Learning – Faculty of Open Learning & Career Development – Dalhousie University or contact us at

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