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United Kingdom - new qualifications framework

ReferNet UK

In October 2015, the new regulated qualifications framework (RQF) replaced the qualifications and credit framework (QCF).

The RQF gives qualification designers more flexibility and includes academic and vocational qualifications in England and also vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland. Matching qualifications with employer needs and increasing employer engagement with education and training are high priorities in the UK. This new framework allows awarding organisations increased freedom and flexibility to develop qualifications that meet specific labour market needs.

Instead of being measured and regulated according to prescriptive rules and structures imposed by government agencies, qualifications are now expected to be validated and supported directly by employers. Validity is described as the degree to which a qualification measures what needs to be measured by means of an assessment procedure. Responsibility for qualifications validity is being placed on awarding organisations who should make sure that the qualifications are valid from the design phase, through to assessment and review.

Framework levels and descriptors remain unchanged. The existing qualifications continue to be offered until they are withdrawn by the awarding organisation. Qualification size must be expressed in terms of total qualification time on the RQF, but requirements regarding use of credits and units no longer apply.

More information:

Ofqual (2015), Regulatory Strategy Statement,

Benson, J (2015), Regulating for valid qualifications,

Benson, J (2015), After the QCF: a new qualifications framework,

Ofqual (2014), Withdrawing the Regulatory Arrangements for the Qualifications and Credit Framework,

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Source: ReferNet UK