The National Qualification Framework (NQF) is the foundation for allmost educational programs and training processes of any institute to apply and adhere to in order to ensure their coherence, homogeneity, and the equivalence of recognition among different education systems as well as the assurance of quality uniformity in the context of a country with many different training models and between different countries.
The National Qualification Framework is applicable across allmost countries and territories. Despite the differences, for degrees to be recognised when studying in one country and working in another, governments have established an equivalent competency framework system.
The Swiss Institute of Management and Innovation (SIMI) is a higher education institute with a comprehensive accreditation system at both institutional and program levels.
At the program level, SIMI’s programs are also recognised by the Regulated Qualification Framework (RQF) awarding bodies. RQF is one of the UK national qualifications systems, a formal education system under the national competency framework.
Since SIMI also has been recognized by the RQF awarding bodies, our programs can meet students’ expectations and allow students to earn dual degrees, that are accredited, and transferable among other educational systems.
Within the scope of this article, we would like to share the basic information regarding the RQF – UK National Qualification Framework with the aim to help students better understand the value of qualifications that SIMI provide and why it helps ensure quality in training.
The history of formation and development of the UK National Qualification Framework
The UK National Qualification Framework system was first known as the UK National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) in 1987. At the mentioned time, NVQ separated vocational degrees and higher education degrees. Later on, NQF was created to recognise vocational education and the correlation of vocational education with higher education and other advanced forms of training. The UK national competency system at that time had five levels.
In 2003, the NVQ system was adjusted and expanded to 9 levels, including the foundation level (Entry) and eight levels of formal training. Simultaneously, NVQ was officially changed its name to NQF (National Qualifications Framework – British national competency framework system) and was applied uniformly throughout the UK, including Wales and Northern Ireland. At the same time, the QCF (Qualifications and Credit Framework) system was also born in parallel with the NQF. The goal of QCF is to recognise the training results of smaller educational institutes compared to traditional higher education providers.
In 2015, after many years of applying QCF, the UK government realised the rigidity of QCF since it did not support many different training models, especially new training models such as OJT training (On job training), Internship, learning at work, etc. Since it didn’t respond well to the explosion of new training models and the development of e-learning, the UK government launched the UK RQF (Regulated Qualifications Framework) as the replacement for the NQF and QCF in October 2015.
Regulated Qualification Framework (RQF)
Like NQF and QCF, all degrees will be converted to “Levels” based on the difficulty and ability training programs provide. But unlike NQF and QCF, RQF does not require learners to combine courses to get credit. Instead, they can accumulate credits from activities like internships, workplace learning, researching, etc. With the RQF system, all degrees will be evaluated based on COMPETENCY instead of KNOWLEDGE. This creates flexibility, agility and efficiency for the UK training system.
For qualification based on the RQF, they will be accredited and recognised in the UK when they recognized by Ofqual. Once recognised by Ofqual, the degree will then be valid, recognised, belonging to the UK national diploma system, and the qualifications will be converted to Level for easy mutual recognition worldwide.
Levels and qualifications of the UK national education system according to RQF
The RQF – UK national qualification framework system is divided into nine levels, the lowest is Entry Level, and the highest is Doctorate level. Each level will have the corresponding number of credits divided into three groups: Awards, Certificate and Diploma.
Levels of the RQF:
As mentioned above, the RQF consists of 9 levels:
- Entry Level – Entry 1, Entry 2, Entry 3
- Level 1 – GCSEs (grades 3-1: previously D-G)
- Level 2 – GCSEs (grades 9-4: previously A*-C), CSE grade 1, O level grade A, B or C
- Level 3 – Advanced level (A level) grade A-E, AS level, Vocational level 3
- Level 4 – Vocational Qualification level 4, CertHE, HNC
- Level 5 – Vocational Qualification level 5, Foundation Degree, DipHE, HND
- Level 6 – Bachelor’s Degree (with or without honours)
- Level 7 – Master’s Degree, Postgraduate Certificate and Diploma, PGCE
- Level 8 – Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil or PhD).
Diploma in the RQF:
Each level is classified into three groups depending on the number of credits of the program:
- Awards: Have UK credits from 1 to 12.
- Certificates: Have a UK credit number of 13 to 36.
- Diplomas: Have more than 37 UK credits
*2 UK credits equal to 1 ECTS credit.
In the British education system, according to RQF, the highest degree is a Diploma, and a Diploma that can reach Level 8 is a Doctorate level, meaning it equals to DBA, PhD, EDD Degree.
The recognition of the UK’s RQF qualifications compared to the European Qualification Framework
Because it is a system that covers the previous training systems in the UK, the UK national education system corresponds to the traditional British higher education system (FHEQ – Framework for Higher Education Qualifications), corresponding to the education system in Wales, Northern Ireland and is fully compatible with the European education system according to the EQF (European Qualification Framework).
Due to compatibility and mutual recognition within the UK, compatible with the traditional higher education system, we know that:
- Level 6 Diploma is equivalent to Bachelor Degree
- Level 7 Diploma is equivalent to Master Degree
- Level 8 Diploma is equivalent to Doctoral Degree
Diplomas, according to the RQF compared to the diploma system of the European countries
The RQF qualification compared to the Australian qualifications framework (AQF)
Australia also uses a national education system called the AQF (Australian Qualifications Framework). Unlike the RQF system with nine levels (Entry Level and Level 1 to Level 8), the AQF has 11 levels (Entry Level and Level 1 to Level 10).
Despite the difference in name, the UK’s RQF qualification is quite similar to the Australian qualifications framework, making UK qualifications equivalent to qualifications in Australia.
Recognition of qualifications under the UK’s RQF compared to the African education system
Africa adopts the ACQF (African Continental Qualifications Framework), and this system is compatible with and corresponds to the European’s EQF and the Australian’s AQF.
Thanks to the correlation between RQF and EQF, the UK national qualification system RQF is also compatible and recognised in Africa’s ACQF.
Recognition of qualifications under the UK’s RQF compared to the ASEAN education system
In ASEAN, the ASEAN Qualifications Reference Framework (AQRF) is applied to form a common competency framework so that qualifications can be easily compared between ASEAN countries (ASEAN Member States (AMS)). The objectives of the formation and application of the ASEAN’s AQRF include:
- Support the recognition of diplomas between countries
- Encourage the development of frameworks and qualifications that support and promote lifelong learning.
- Help countries form mechanisms and legal frameworks to recognise non-traditional and modern training models and forms.
- Support the process of labour mobility.
- Support the learning process in many different countries (learner mobility – students can complete one program, receive one or more degrees at many study locations)
- Increase the recognition of diplomas in the context of a variety of educational systems. (The qualifications will be converted to Level for easy identification).
The ASEAN framework is applied exactly like the European Qualification Framework, consisting of 9 levels: Entry level and Level 1 to Level 8.
Due to their equivalence, qualifications under the European Qualification Framework System and the British’s RQF can be considered for recognition in ASEAN countries.
Although the competency system makes qualifications easily recognised amongst countries, each country can apply its laws. Therefore, students are encouraged to find out all the information before joining SIMI’s programs (either full-time in Switzerland or part-time following the Hybrid model). Please refer to the Liability Disclaimer section for more information.
Source: The Swiss Institute of Management and Innovation