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Guide to Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF)Feedback

Vocational qualifications are changing. A new system called the Qualifcations and Credit Framework (QCF) offers you a more flexible and simpler structure to build the qualification of your choice.

The system allows you to complete qualifications in small chunks of learning. The qualifications are geared towards meeting industry needs, which is essential if you are hoping to progress in your chosen career.

Why change?

In the past, it has been hard to understand all the different types of qualifications learners hold – what level they are, how long they take to complete, what content they cover, and how they compare to other qualifications. The new framework presents qualifications in a way that is easy to understand and measure.

What is happening?

The names of some qualifications, such as NVQs, BTECs or Certificates, are changing under the new system. The new names of the qualifications in the QCF tell you three things – how difficult it is, how long it takes and what it’s about.

The level shows how difficult the qualification is. There are nine levels in the QCF, from entry level to level 8. For example, GCSEs are at levels 1 and 2, A levels are at level 3, and a PhD is at level 8. Next is the size – that’s how long the qualification takes to complete. Every new qualification and unit on the QCF has a credit value, showing how long it takes to complete. One credit is equivalent to 10 hours. This can include time spent learning in a variety of ways – not necessarily being taught by someone.

There are three different sizes of qualification, worth different numbers of credits (certificates, awards and diplomas). Larger qualifications will take longer to complete than smaller ones.


An award is the smallest type of qualification in the QCF. It is worth between 1 and 12 credits. This means it takes between 10 and 120 hours to complete.


A certificate is worth between 13 and 36 credits. It takes between 130 and 360 hours to complete.


A diploma is worth 37 credits or more, so takes 370 hours or more to complete.


This could be any of the subject areas the College offers.

Typical qualifications could include:

  • Level 1 Certificate in Floristry
    Takes between 10 and 120 hours to complete, in the subject of Floristry.
  • Level 2 Certifi cate in Accounting
    More difficult than Level 1, around 130 to 360 hours of study in the subject of Accounting.
  • Level 3 Diploma in Bench Joinery
    More difficult than Level 1 and 2, takes about 370+ hours to complete, in the subject of Construction.

QCF is:


Learning is not lost as you move in and out of education or between jobs. Work-based skills and college training you have already completed can be put towards other recognised qualifications. This also means you don’t have to repeat learning the same things unnecessarily.

Easier to understand

You can now look at a title and see how long and how difficult a qualification is. Employers will also be able to do the same.

It provides:

Online record

All of the credits you collect through your learning are recorded on a centralised online learner record. You will be able to let potential or current employers have access to your record, giving them up-to-the-minute evidence of your achievements.

Better job prospects

Above all, a QCF qualification means you’ll have the skills and qualifications employers are looking for so you will have better job prospects.

Leicester College’s role

Leicester College is embracing the QCF. We have a huge variety of vocational courses which have been tailored to fit the QCF. Our courses give you flexibility when it comes to choosing which units you want to study. We will guide you through your choice of units and the level you will work at. You can be confident you will be making the right decision when you decide to study or train with us.

For more information on the QCF and Leicester College call 0116 224 2240.

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