Ofqual, England’s exams and assessments regulator often change its guidance on how qualifications are assessed and regulated – as was the case when it changed QCF qualifications into RQF. But what does the change mean for your qualification? And what can you expect from the new rules?

We understand that the world of qualifications and assessments can often seem a little confusing. And with lots of abbreviations, acronyms and initialisms to contend with, you’d be forgiven for forgetting what they all mean and how they affect you. To help, we’re taking a look at Ofqual’s switch from QCF to RQF qualifications, including what’s changed and what the new framework means for you.

How did the QCF System Work?

The QCF or "Qualifications and Credit Framework" is based on units with credit value and levels (from Entry Level to Level 8). One credit roughly equals ten 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 and Diplomas.

QCF to RQF: What You Need to Know

There has been a much-needed progression since the time that NVQs, were introduced in the early 1980s, and now, QCF has been replaced by the RQF (Regulated Qualification Framework.) The regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) is the framework for all of the qualifications regulated by Ofqual.

When Did QCF to RQF Happen?

Introduced on 1 October 2015, all new qualifications will now be regulated through the RQF. Ofqual says the RQF is “more descriptive and less prescriptive” than its predecessor. RQF offers a more straightforward system for managing qualifications regulated by Ofqual.

How does the RQF work?

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.

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What are RQF qualifications?

There are eight levels, supported by three entry levels; not all qualifications can be assigned to a single level. In terms of ‘size’, this is based on the estimated time it is anticipated that you will need to study, complete and be assessed for the qualification.

There is no set deadline for completing RQF qualifications. Therefore, students can finish them at their own pace. They are, consequently, perfect to be studied via distance learning. And because home learning is so flexible and convenient, whatever your location or personal circumstances, there’s nothing stopping you from going for that promotion or career change!

RQF 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.

RQF 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 hours to several years of study, and 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 study and assessment time. Equally, qualifications at the same level can take different amounts of study and assessment time.

How do RQF qualification levels work in England?

Levels indicate the difficulty and complexity of the knowledge and skills associated with the qualification. Most qualifications will be assigned a single level, while some, such as GCSEs, will probably span more than one.

For more information about what different qualification levels mean, and their equivalent assessments, we’d recommend visiting Gov.uk’s education and learning portal.

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A Word on Ofqual

 The framework should help people understand all the qualifications regulated by Ofqual. This includes general and vocational qualifications in England, and vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland and how they relate.

The exams, qualifications and assessments regulator works to improve consistency around how awarding organisations describe the size and challenge, or demand, of the qualifications offered. We pay careful attention to Ofqual and the changes to its framework, so be sure to stop by the Oxbridge blog every so often for the latest updates and any changes which might affect you.

Key Takeaways and Things to Remember

  • The term 'QCF' was removed from all existing qualifications and replaced by 'RQF' by December 2017.
  • 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 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 high quality.

Looking for More Help and Advice?

The RQF provides a single, simple system for cataloguing all qualifications regulated by us. Like a bookcase in a library, with qualifications indexed by their ‘level’ and ‘size’. Qualifications at any specific level can be very different, for example, in their content and purpose.

At Oxbridge, you can enrol on our distance learning courses 365 days a year. In line with your current lifestyle, time commitments and aspirations for the future, we’re here to help make your dreams a reality, providing you with all the help and support you require to gain a qualification and take the next step in your career journey.

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Why Choose Oxbridge for an RQF Distance Learning Course?

Why trust us with your future? There are lots of reasons why an RQF distance learning course from Oxbridge could be the perfect next step for you, including:

  • Student-focused. Because everything we do and every decision we make starts with “how will this benefit our learners?”. It is all about you.
  • Total passion. We handpick tutors and staff passionate about distance learning and dedicated to seeing learners achieve.
  • Our unrivalled quality. Ensuring we deliver great quality learning, we obsess over every detail of your learning experience.
  • Oxbridge love success. Call us and tell us you passed your exam. We guarantee there will be a cheer in the office; seeing you #winning is what we thrive on
  • Help, even when the lights have gone off. Because we promise that we will do everything we can to help and support you. It’s that simple.

Oxbridge provides fully accredited, industry-recognised certificates that will add power to your CV and your confidence. Our RQF Qualifications can be found in our online courses section. Most noteworthy of all, our pass rates are comparable and often exceed those of traditional schools and colleges, so you can be assured your future is in good hands.