About QCF

The QCF (Qualifications Credit Framework) is a new way of recognising skills and qualifications. It does this by awarding credit for units (small steps of learning) and enables learners to gain qualifications at their own pace along flexible routes.

The QCF has four main aims

  • To ensure a wider range of achievements can be recognised within a more inclusive qualifications framework

  • To establish a qualifications system that is more responsive to individual and employer needs

  • To establish a simpler qualifications framework that is easier for all users to understand

  • To reduce the burden of bureaucracy in the accreditation and assessment of qualifications.

A Credit Framework

Every unit and qualification in the framework will have a credit value (indicating the size of the units or qualification) and a level, which ranges from Entry level to Level 8 (indicating the difficulty).


One credit represents 10 hours of learning time. Learning time is the amount of time a learner at the level of the unit, is expected to take, on average, to complete the learning outcomes of the unit to the standard defined by the assessment criteria.

  • Learning time is different from guided learning hours (GLH). The GLH does not include learning time spent away from the assessor

  • Learning time includes all the time needed to achieve a unit, including, contact time, directed learning, assessment preparation time and assessment time but not learner initiated study

  • The relationship between and learning time changes at different levels. At Entry level and Level 1 most of the learning happens when the tutor is present, but at higher levels such as Level 4 and 5, more independent learning is expected away from the tutor. The learning time cannot be less than the GLH

  • Relating GLH to credit is difficult. The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) is testing approaches to unit funding in 2008/9 and 2009/10. The credit success rate measure will be tested through the trials. Funding will continue to be based on GLH for the time being.

Every unit and qualification in the new framework has a credit value (where one credit represents 10 hours of learning time).There are three different sizes of qualification:

  • Awards (1 to 12 credits)

  • Certificates (13 to 36 credits)

  • Diplomas (37 credits or more)

In addition, each qualification has a level of difficulty from Entry level at the bottom to Level 8 at the top.
The title of each qualification within this framework contains details of the size (award/certificate/diploma), level of difficulty (Entry to Level 8) and general content of the qualification.

The QCF is a national framework referenced to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF). The EQF is a Meta framework intended as a reference so that qualifications in nation frameworks such as the QCF are understood across member states.

The information on this page is adopted from “Accredited Qualification”


Certification Levels & Comparison
Ofqual Level Descriptors
Ofqual level descriptors