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Qualifications Explained


NCFE offers a wide range of regulated qualifications.  Within the United Kingdom (UK) each country has its own regulator of qualifications and assessments.  Each of our qualifications is regulated by one or more of these organisations:

England: Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual)

Ofqual regulates qualifications, examinations and assessments in England. You can find out more about Ofqual and their work here.

Wales: Qualifications Wales

Qualifications Wales is the regulator of non-degree qualifications and the qualifications system in Wales. You can find out more about Qualifications Wales and their work here.

Northern Ireland:Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA)

CCEA ensure that the qualifications and examinations offered by awarding bodies in Northern Ireland are of an appropriate quality and standard. You can find out more about CCEA and their work here.

Scotland: SQA Accreditation

SQA Accreditation quality assures qualifications offered in Scotland by approving awarding bodies and accrediting their qualifications.  You can find out more about SQA Accreditation and their work here.

Qualification sizes

Qualifications are different sizes and each Regulator may use different terms to describe this eg Guided Learning Hours (GLH), Total Qualification Time (TQT) and Credit.

Guided Learning Hours: Generally indicates the time a learner is being taught, instructed or participating in education or training under guidance or supervision of a tutor, lecturer etc (this can also include assessment time).

Total Qualification Time (TQT): The number of notional hours which represents an estimate of the total amount of time that a Learner might take to demonstrate achievement at the required level for the award of a qualification (includes guided learning and non-guided learning hours)

Credit:  Generally 1 credit is equal to 10 hours of learning time (including guided and non-guided learning hours). 

Qualification levels

All regulated qualifications have a level. This indicates how difficult each qualification is and it’s applied based on the knowledge, understanding and skills that need to be evidenced to achieve a qualification. Qualifications are usually made up of units, and each unit also has a level. More information on level descriptors is available from the Ofqual website.

How different qualifications and their levels compare across the UK and Ireland:

The qualification regulators for UK and Ireland jointly produce a guide to illustrate how qualifications of different types, names and levels compare. This document is called Qualifications can Cross Boundaries

Non-regulated programmes

NCFE doesn’t just provide courses that lead to a regulated qualification. We also provide a range of accreditation & employer services for providers who, if they meet our criteria, are able to write and deliver programmes that are approved and certificated by NCFE.