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Accredited Qualifications and the transition from QCF to RQF

The Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) is a credit transfer system which has replaced the National Qualification Framework (NQF). It recognises qualifications and units by awarding credits. And since each unit has a credit value and the credits can be transferred, the system gives the learners the ability to get qualifications at their own pace. The QCF is jointly regulated by the England’s regulator Ofqual, Wales’ DCELLS and Northern Ireland’s CCEA.

The Aim of the change is to offer a simpler way to compare and understand qualifications. The change isn’t anything to worry about and won’t impact learners in any significant way.

First let’s look at the old system: The QCF

How Does the QCF System Work?

The QCF or “Qualifications and Credit Framework” is based on units which have credit value and levels (from Entry Level to Level 8). One credit roughly equals 10 learning hours which allows the learners to evaluate how much time they will need to gain the desired qualification. According to the QCF system, the learners can gain three types of qualifications:

  • awards
  • certificates
  • diplomas

QCF to RQF: What you need to know

There has been much needed progression since the time of that NVQ’s, were introduced in the early 1980’s. And now, QCF has been replaced by the RQF (Regulated Qualification Framework.) Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) is the framework for all of the qualifications that are regulated by Ofqual. A useful PDF outlining these changes can be found here.

When did QCF to RQF happen?

QCF to RQF was introduced on 1st October 2015. All new qualifications will now be regulated through the RQF. Ofqual says that the RQF is “more descriptive and less prescriptive” than its predecessor. RQF’s have been designed to offer you a simpler system for managing qualifications regulated by Ofqual. Similar to a library bookcase, RQFs allow you to index qualifications based on their level and size. The higher the qualification, the greater the complexity and difficulty of the skills and knowledge associated with the qualification.

When will the QCF Qualifications withdrawn from new learner registrations?

Existing Oxbridge QCF qualifications will remain live until 30th November 2017, where we will no longer accept new learner registrations. Any learners already registered on QCF qualifications will have until 30th November 2020 to make successful claims and be certificated. Replacement RQF Qualifications are available and more will be available over the next few months.

Regulated Qualification Framework (RQF)

RQF Levels

There are 8 levels in total which are supported by 3 entry levels, as not all qualifications can be assigned to a single level. In terms of ‘size’, this is based on the estimated amount of time (weeks to years) it is believed it will take you to study, complete and be assessed for the qualification. With RQFs there is no set deadline for completing qualifications. Instead students can finish them at their own pace meaning they are perfect to be completed by distance learning.

Qualification Level

Levels indicate the difficulty and complexity of the knowledge and skills associated with any qualification. There are eight levels supported by three ‘entry’ levels. While most qualifications will be assigned a single level some, such as GCSEs, can span more than one.

Qualification Size

Size refers to the estimated total amount of time it could typically take to study and be assessed for a qualification. This can be anything from a matter of hours to several years of study and different students can take different amounts of time to study for the same qualification. Size is expressed in terms of Total Qualification Time. The part of that time typically spent being taught or supervised, rather than studying alone, is known as Guided Learning Hours. Qualifications can sit at different levels, but require similar amounts of study and assessment time. Equally, qualifications at the same level can take different amounts of study and assessment time.

In summary:

  • The term ‘QCF’ will be removed from all existing qualifications and replaced by ‘RQF’ by December 2017.
  • All new qualifications will now have ‘RQF’ in their title.
  • Guided Learning Hours (GLH) will be replaced with Total Qualification Time (TQT), which includes GLH, assessment and self-directed study time this will indicate the size of the qualification by the total amount of time it is anticipated a learner will take to complete.
  • The terms Award, Certificate and Diploma will remain.
  • Qualifications will now be more flexible and with the responsibility for their qualifications sitting with the Awarding Organisation it will ensure they are of a high quality.

The RQF provides a single, simple system for cataloguing all qualifications regulated by us. It’s like a bookcase in a library, with qualifications indexed by their ‘level’ and ‘size’. Qualifications at any specific level can be very different from one another, for example in their content and purpose. You can find our more by visiting the Ofqual website

Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual)

What is the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual)?

The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) is the regulator of qualifications, examinations and assessments in England and the regulator of vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland. It is responsible for ensuring that all qualifications and assessment meet high quality standards by monitoring awarding organisations, assessments and examinations and taking the necessary action to ensure that the qualifications meet the needs of learners, higher education institutions and employers. The Ofqual is responsible to the Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly.

What Does Ofqual Do?

The main “job” of the Ofqual is to ensure that the learners are provided an access to high quality qualifications which meet appropriate standards. This is achieved by monitoring the awarding bodies and taking action whenever and wherever there is a risk to quality. The Ofqual also makes sure that the qualification by awarding organisations are of comparable quality with other qualifications in the UK and overseas, that the candidates have an equal access to qualifications and assessment, and encouraging a debate about topics such as standards of qualifications.

Ofqual in Northern Ireland

In addition to regulating qualifications, examinations and assessments in England, the Ofqual is also responsible for regulating vocational qualifications such as art in Northern Ireland. The Ofqual staff that is based in Belfast works closely with the Northern Ireland Government departments and organisations in order to make sure that all vocational qualifications meet the needs of the learners and employers.