The main qualifications framework in England is the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF), which replaced the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) in 2015.
The RQF in England provides a structured framework for recognising and comparing qualifications based on their level of difficulty, content, and skills required, helping learners make informed decisions about their education and career paths. Here are the key features and levels of the RQF:
1. Credit-based System
2. Awards, Certificates and Diplomas
Awards can be studied at any level. They are more concise than certificates and diplomas of the same level. On completion of an award you may have the option to continue studying towards a certificate or a diploma, or to study at a higher level.
Certificates involve more in-depth study of a topic than awards of the same level. They provide a broad base of knowledge and skills. They can also be studied at any level. On completion of a certificate you may have the option to continue studying towards a diploma, or to study at a higher level.
Diplomas are the most comprehensive of the three. They offer an extensive programme of learning, allowing you to learn more about a subject than awards and certificates of the same level. They can also be studied at any level.
All three may be taken as stand-alone courses, alongside other (academic or vocational) qualifications, or as part of a wider programme such as an apprenticeship.
The above is an extract from the Education and Training's downloadable guide to what the FE, skills and training sector is all about.
The levels in the RQF indicate the difficulty and complexity of the knowledge and skills associated with a qualification which is regulated by Ofqual (in England). The RQF has three entry levels: 1,2,3 plus levels 1 to 8. A rough comparison of levels 1 to 8 to existing qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is:
1: GCSEs (grades 3-1: previously D-G)
2: GCSEs (grades 9-4: previously A*-C), CSE grade 1, O level grade A,B or C
3: Advanced level (A level) grade A-E, AS level, Vocational level 3
4: Vocational Qualification level 4, CertHE, HNC
5: Vocational Qualification level 5, Foundation Degree, DipHE, HND
6: Bachelor’s Degree (with or without honours)
7: Master’s Degree, Postgraduate Certificate and Diploma, PGCE
8: Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil or PhD)
Following the RQF, existing Edupro qualifications are organised into different levels, ranging from Level 3 to Level 7, with each level representing a progressively higher level of knowledge, skills, and complexity.