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QCF to RQF: What you need to know

posted by Carla on Tuesday, 22 May 2018

We at Oxbridge Home Learning are often asked what the difference between qualifications abbreviations are. Here we explain one of the most recent changes.

QCF to RQF | What you need to know

QCF have been replaced by the RQF (Regulated Qualification Framework.)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

When did QCF to RQF happen?

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 – 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.

RQF Levels

There are 8 levels in total, supported by 3 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 its anticipated for you 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 for via distance learning. Due to Home Learning being so flexible and convenient, whatever your location or personal circumstances you are now able to study, progress, go for that promotion or change your career!

Qualification Level

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

Qualification Size

Size refers to the estimated total amount of time it could take to study and thus be assessed for a qualification. This can be anything from a matter of hours to several years of study. Different students can take different amounts of time to study for the same qualification. Size is being expressed in terms of Total Qualification Time.

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.


The framework should help people understand all the qualifications regulated by OFQUAL, general and vocational in England, and vocational in Northern Ireland, and how they relate to each other. Its intention is to improve consistency around how awarding organisations describe the size and challenge, or demand, of the qualifications offered.


  • ‘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.

Need more info?

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

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