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RQF replaces QCF: What you need to know

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In October 2015, the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) replaced the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF), to offer a simpler way to compare and understand qualifications.

The change isn’t anything to worry about and won’t impact learners in any significant way. In fact, it’s going to help individuals and employers alike get to grips with what it takes to complete a particular qualification and how different qualifications relate to each other.  

Under the new RQF system, awarding organisations follow a consistent approach in determining the level of demand it takes to complete a qualification and describing the size of all regulated qualifications.

So, what are the key changes?

  • Qualification size must now be expressed in terms of Total Qualification Time (TQT). This is an estimate of how long it takes to study for the qualification, including the number of hours of Guided Learning (time spent being taught), and the number of hours a typical learner will spend on unsupervised study, preparation or assessment throughout the qualification.
  • Framework levels of demand remain the same as the QCF: Entry Levels 1-3 and Levels 1-8, but there are updated qualification descriptors for each level, extended to general and vocational qualifications.
  • Requirements regarding use of credits and units no longer apply. These can remain but are not mandatory. The RQF does not set qualification design rules - it is up to awarding organisations to develop qualifications that meet specific labour market needs; validated and supported directly by employers.

What does this mean for awarding organisations?

For all existing qualifications, a measure of size using TQT should be in place no later than 31 December 2017. All references to ‘QCF’ must also be removed from all qualification titles, marketing materials and websites by this date.

In broader terms, the removal of prescriptive rules regarding credits and units means that qualifications can be designed more directly in line with employer and market needs, creating more relevant qualification requirements.

What does this mean for learners?

It won’t make too much difference. All qualifications regulated by Ofqual are still assessed and quality assured in the same way, just under a new framework that makes it easier to see where a qualification sits in relation to another.

In practical terms, the change simply means that qualification titles and awarding bodies will refer to the ‘RQF’ instead of the ‘QCF’ by the end of 2017 (although some still refer to old titles such as ‘NVQ’ and ‘BTEC’, from the previous National Qualifications Framework).

The RQF has made it easier for qualifications to be designed in direct accordance with market needs, essentially providing more relevant qualifications to learners, which should in turn make them more attractive to employers.

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About the Author

Sophie Austin, Site Manager for findcourses.co.uk moved to Sweden in 2017 from London, England, where she spent 3 years working in the education sector.

Sophie has a First Class Bachelor’s Degree from King’s College London and is currently studying for her Masters in Creative Writing at Stockholm University. A qualified writer, alongside her work Sophie has written two books and is a contributing writer for the 2019 UK L&D Report.

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Last updated: 16 Jul 2019

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