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The Qualifications and Credit Framework - QCF

The QCF is the new framework for creating and accrediting qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It’s at the heart of a major reform of the vocational qualifications system, which will make it:

  • Simpler to understand and use
  • More accessible to a wider range of learners
  • More relevant to the needs of learners and employers.

The QCF:

  • Recognises and accredits smaller steps of learning, and enables learners to build qualifications incrementally
  • Assesses and recognises non certificated learning, and enables this to contribute to recognised qualifications
  • Allows learners to obtain skills and qualifications that meet industry needs
  • Provides accreditation for qualifications offered by a wide range of awarding organisations, including employers, which means that work-based learning and training can be recognised
  • Recognises certificated achievement outside of the QCF through a process known as exemption

Qualification titles

Each qualification title contains the following:

  • The level of the qualification (from Entry Level to Level 8)
  • The size of the qualification (Award/Certificate/Diploma)
  • Details indicating the content of the qualification.

By ensuring every qualification title describes what subject it covers, how difficult it is, and how much work it involves, we can help learners and employers compare different qualifications.

Qualification sizes

There are three sizes of qualifications in the QCF:

  • Award         -    (1 to 12 credits - 10 to 120 hours of learning)
  • Certificate     -    (13 to 36 credits - 130 to 360 hours of learning)
  • Diploma    -     (37 credits or more - 370 or more hours of learning).

The qualification name - Award, Certificate or Diploma represents the size of a qualification, not how difficult it is. To understand how difficult a unit or qualification is, it might be helpful to know that:

  • GCSEs (grades A* to C) are equivalent in challenge to Level 2
  • A levels are equivalent in challenge to Level 3
  • PhD is equivalent in challenge to Level 8.