About Qualifications Frameworks in England and Wales
National Qualifications frameworks are recognised systems designed to provide an accessible, flexible and simple method for comparing qualifications.
Units and qualifications are allocated a credit and level, corresponding to their national framework. The level indicates the difficulty of the award (ranging from entry levels and then levels 1-8). Total Qualification Time (TQT) and Credit are also allocated to each regulated qualification in England and Wales. TQT and Credit measure the average length of time a learner will take to complete a unit (1 credit = notionally 10 hours).
The framework in England is called the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) and all qualifications contained in this framework are regulated by Ofqual.
In Wales these qualifications exist in the Regulated Qualification pillar of the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales (CQFW) and are regulated by Qualifications Wales.
Qualifications in these frameworks are sometimes given the following terms in their title, so people can quickly see an indication of their size:
- Award - 1-12 credits (10 – 120 TQT hours)
- Certificate - 13-36 credits (121 – 369 TQT hours)
- Diploma - 37+ credits (370 or more TQT hours)
Changes to Qualifications in England and Wales
These frameworks replace the previous Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF), which was removed in September 2015. Qualifications are being transitioned from QCF requirements over a period of time, with transition being completed by the end of December 2017.
While these changes mostly directly affect Awarding Bodies like SQA, you may notice that there are some changes to terminology and information surrounding qualifications delivered in England and Wales. More detail on this is contained in our FAQ document:
Changes to Qualifications in England (124 KB)
Qualifications can Cross Boundaries
Frameworks also help to illustrate the relationships between qualifications in England and Wales and those in the rest of the UK, Europe and beyond, which can clarify opportunities for international progression routes. The QCF (and therefore the RQF) and the CQFW have been referenced to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF), meaning that there is now an easy way to compare the level of qualifications of the countries in Europe who have developed their own National Qualifications Framework. For more information read the Qualifications Can Cross Boundaries Leaflet (804 KB)