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QCF to RQF: What you need to know

posted by Carla on Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Ofqual, England’s exams and assessments regulator, often changes 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.


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QCF to RQF: What You Need to Know

 QCF has been replaced by the RQF (Regulated Qualification Framework.) This is the framework for all qualifications regulated by Ofqual. In addition, here is a useful PDF outlining these changes. Continue reading for what you need to know on QCF to RQF.


When Did QCF to RQF Happen?

 Introduced on 1 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 is 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.


man working from home


What Are RQF Levels?

 There are eight levels in total, 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 amount of 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!


How Do 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’s education and learning portal.


What Does Qualification Size Mean?

 Size refers to the estimated total amount of time it could take to study and be assessed for a qualification. This can be anything from a matter of hours to several years of study.

Different students can take a different amount of time to study for the same qualification. Therefore, the overall ‘size’ of a qualification is expressed in terms of Total Qualification Time – an approximation of how long, in hours, the course will take to complete to a suitable standard.

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.


woman working on her laptop


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 to each other.

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 

  • ‘QCF’ term has been removed from all existing qualifications and replaced by ‘RQF’ as of December 2017
  • All new qualifications will now have ‘RQF’ in their title
  • Total Qualification Time (TQT) is replacing Guided Learning Hours (GLH)
  • 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


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 from one another, for example in their content and purpose.


You can find out more by visiting the Ofqual website.


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 on your career journey.


student writing down notes


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 really is all about you.
  • Total passion. We handpick tutors and staff who are 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.

But don’t just take our word for it. Find out what other students had to say about our distance learning courses over on our case studies page.


Oxbridge provides fully accredited, industry-recognised certificates that will add power to your CV and your confidence. Our qualifications include A-Levels, GCSEs and many professional awards. And 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. For more information or to explore our complete course selection, visit the homepage or call our experienced course advisers on 0121 630 3000.