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Qualification Comparisons
How different qualifications compare

You may hear people talking about qualification 'levels'. These levels are contained in three qualification 'frameworks':

National Qualifications Framework
Qualifications and Credit Framework (the new framework for vocational, or work-related qualifications)
Framework for Higher Education Qualifications

The frameworks group together qualifications that place similar demands on you as a learner. However, within any one level, qualifications can cover a wide mix of subjects, and take different amounts of time to complete.

The frameworks can also help you see how one type of qualification can lead on to other, higher levels of qualifications.

National Qualifications Framework

The National Qualifications Framework (NQF) sets out the level at which a qualification can be recognised in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.Only qualifications that have been accredited by the three regulators for England, Wales and Northern Ireland can be included in the NQF. This ensures that all qualifications within the framework are of high quality, and meet the needs of learners and employers.

Qualifications and Credit Framework

The Qualifications and Credit Framework is a new framework. It contains new vocational (or work-related) qualifications, available in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

These qualifications are made up of units that are worth credits. You can study units at your own pace and build these up to full qualifications of different sizes over time.Units and qualifications also range in difficulty, from entry level to level 8 (similar to the levels in the NQF).

There are already lots of these new vocational qualifications available. To find out more about our range of qualifications please follow the link below on the FUTURE website.

Qualifications by level across the NQF and QCF and HE Frameworks

Level
Examples of NQF qualifications
Examples of QCF qualifications
Entry
-
Entry level certificates
-
English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
-
Skills for Life
-
Functional Skills at entry level (English, maths and ICT)
-
Awards, Certificates, and Diplomas at entry level
-
Foundation Learning Tier pathways at entry level
-
Functional Skills at entry level
1
-
GCSEs grades D-G
-
Key Skills at level 1
-
NVQs at level 1
-
Skills for Life
-
Awards, Certificates, and Diplomas at level 2
-
Functional Skills at level 1
-
Foundation Learning Tier pathways
-
NVQs at level 1
2
-
GCSEs grades A*-C
-
Key Skills level 2
-
NVQs at level 2
-
Skills for Life
-
Awards, Certificates, and Diplomas at level 2
-
Functional Skills at level 2
-
OCR Nationals
-
NVQs at level 2
3
-
A levels
-
GCE in applied subjects
-
International Baccalaureate
-
Key Skills level 3
-
NVQs at level 3
-
Awards, Certificates, and Diplomas at level 3
-
NVQs at level 3
4
-
NVQs at level 4
-
Awards, Certificates, and Diplomas at level 4
-
NVQs at level 4
5
-
HNCs and HNDs
-
NVQs at level 5
-
Professional Diplomas, Certificates and Awards
-
Awards, Certificates, and Diplomas at level 5
-
NVQs at level 5
6
-
National Diploma in Professional Production Skills
-
Advanced Professional Diplomas, Certificates & Awards
-
Awards, Certificates, and Diplomas at level 6
7
-
Diploma in Translation
-
Advanced Professional Diplomas, Certificates & Awards
-
Awards, Certificates, and Diplomas at level 7
8
-
specialist awards
-
Awards, Certificates, and Diplomas at level 8
Framework for Higher Education Qualifications

The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ) has been designed by the higher education sector, and describes all the main higher education qualifications. It applies to degrees, diplomas, certificates and other academic awards granted by a university or higher education college (apart from honorary degrees and higher doctorates).

The FHEQ broadly corresponds with levels 4 to 8 of the National Qualifications Framework, in terms of the demands the qualifications place on learners.

FHEQ level
Examples of qualifications
4
-
certificates of higher education
-
higher national certificates
5
-
diplomas of higher education
-
Foundation Degrees
-
higher national diplomas
6
-
bachelors degrees
-
bachelors degrees with honours
-
graduate certificates and diplomas
-
Professional Graduate Certificate in Education
7
-
masters degrees
-
integrated masters degrees
-
postgraduate certificates
-
postgraduate diplomas
8
-
doctoral degrees
© Future™ Awards and Qualifications 2016