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Qualification Frameworks

QualificationsQualification Frameworks

Qualification Frameworks

What is the QCF?

The Qualification Credit Framework (QCF) is a system for recognising skills and qualifications. It does this by awarding credit for qualifications and units (small steps of learning). Each unit has a credit value. This value specifies the number of credits gained by learners who complete that unit. The flexibility of the system allows learners to gain qualifications at their own pace along routes that suit them best. All nationally recognised qualifications delivered by OCN London are designed for the QCF. Our bespoke accreditation is also designed according to the QCF unit template but is not formally recognised and regulated by Ofqual as a national qualification (see bespoke accreditation for further details).

The QCF system

The QCF aims to provide a simple yet flexible structure that allows for the maintenance and continuing development of a qualifications system that is:

  • inclusive
  • responsive
  • accessible
  • non-bureaucratic

The QCF allows achievements to be recognised and recorded through the award of credits and qualifications. It supports the accumulation and transfer of credits and the easy identification of each achievement’s level and size. In this way, learners have maximum flexibility and range of opportunities and can be reliably recognised for their achievements.

Identifying QCF qualifications

Every unit and qualification has a credit value and a level. One credit represents ten notional hours of learning, showing how much time the average learner would take to complete the unit or qualification. Levels indicate difficulty and vary from Entry 1 to Level 8. There are three types of qualification:

  • Awards (1 to 12 credits)
  • Certificates (13 to 36 credits)
  • Diplomas (37 credits or more)

You can have an Award of any difficulty level from 1 to 8. This is because the type indicates the size of qualification, not its difficulty.

The title of a qualification indicates its difficulty, how long it will take the average learner to complete, and its general content, using the following information:

  • Qualification level (from lowest, Entry level to level 8 at the top)
  • Qualification size (Award/Certificate/Diploma)
  • Content of the qualification

To understand the level of difficulty of the units and qualifications it might be helpful to know that GCSEs (grade A*–C) are level 2, GCE A levels are level 3 and a PhD is a level 8. Knowing this can help to position the difficulty and challenge of each level in the framework.

Qualification Levels and Equivalences

The level of the learning you undertake for an OCNLR qualification is similar to the level of study needed for other courses and nationally recognised qualifications.

The levels of the NQF and QCF can be seen on the Ofqual comparing qualifications page.

The level, given on the certificate for each unit you have achieved, shows the stage you have reached in your learning. The following are summaries of the approximate equivalences between OCNLR levels and the levels of other national qualifications:


 Entry Level One (E1)
Qualifications and units at Entry Level provides a basis for progression to other qualifications
 Entry Level Two (E2)
Qualifications and units at Entry Level provides a basis for progression to other qualifications
 Entry Level Three (E3)
Qualifications and units at Entry Level provides a basis for progression to other qualifications
 Level One
 This is comparable to NVQ Level 1, GCSEs D-G and Foundation Diploma
 Level Two
 This is comparable to NVQ Level 2, GCSE’s A* to C and Higher Diploma
 Level Three
 This is comparable to NVQ Level 3, A and AS Levels, Advanced Diploma
 Level Four
This is comparable to NVQ Level 4, Year one of a university degree