Understanding our qualifications

Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF)

The RQF aims to help people understand regulated qualifications and how they relate to each other. This page will provide you with more information about the framework and explain why it's important.

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Qualification frameworks

Qualification frameworks are designed to help you make informed decisions about the qualifications you've achieved and the qualifications you may need for the future.

The Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) was in operation between 2008 and 2015. Since 2015, the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) replaced the Qualifications and Credit Framework and is in use in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The intention of the RQF framework is to improve consistency around how awarding organisations describe the size and challenge, or demand, of the qualifications they offer.

What are levels in the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF)?

The RQF framework has nine levels from Entry Level through to Level 8, with Level 8 being the highest. The level of a qualification shows how difficult the learning is.

Qualifications that share the same level:

  • are broadly similar in terms of the demand
  • can be very different in terms of content, duration and assessment method.

For example, GCE A levels are at level 3 on the RQF, as are BTEC Level 3 National qualifications and the Level 3 Extended Project qualification. The level of the qualification is stated in the qualification title to ensure it’s really clear for users of the qualification.

How is the size of the qualification determined?

Qualifications on the RQF have their size expressed in terms of Total Qualification Time (TQT) and, where appropriate, Guided Learning (GL) and credit.

TQT is, essentially, the total number of hours a learner is expected to take to complete the qualification to the required standard. It includes:

  • Guided Learning, where a learner is being taught by a tutor or is otherwise participating in training under the immediate guidance or supervision of a tutor. This includes assessment activity undertaken under the immediate guidance or supervision of a tutor/assessor
  • an estimate of the number of hours a learner will reasonably be likely to spend in preparation, study or other form of participation in training, including assessment, that is not under the immediate guidance or supervision of a tutor.

Pearson’s qualifications will each state the expected TQT for learners taking the qualification. You can find this information in the relevant qualification specification and on the Register of Regulated Qualifications.

How do RQF levels compare with other qualification frameworks?

There are other frameworks used in other parts of the UK and other parts of the world. The table below shows a rough comparison of the levels on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF), the European Qualifications Framework (EQF),the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) and the Credit and Qualifications framework for Wales (CQFW).

RQF

EQF

SCQF

CQFW

8

8

12

8

7

7

11

7

6

6

10/9

6

5/4

5

8/7

5/4

3

4

6

3

2

3

5

2

1

2

4

1

Entry Level 3

1

3

Entry Level 3

Entry Level 2

 

2

Entry Level 2

Entry Level 1

 

1

Entry Level 1

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