Hill Slides - Higher Education Academy

QCF, FHEQ and other credit compared (Dr Steve
Hill, RDI Ltd APL adviser and independent HE
Course/programme/ award design and
Module/unit design
Assessment design
Assessment decisions (marking/moderation)
for both modules and awards
Recognition of prior learning (RPL) including
certificated and experiential learning
FHEQ is primarily qualification driven, with a
‘top-down’ approach where programme
outcomes are derived from subject benchmark
statements and professional body requirements.
QCF is a credit framework, replacing the earlier
NQF, which was qualification driven and didn’t
use credit
QCF is unit (module) based, with programmes
designed around existing or new units, so is a
‘bottom-up’ approach
Rules of Combination (RoC) define how units are
to be used in qualifications.
FHEQ: Module learning outcomes must be met,
but minor module failure can be compensated or
Overall module pass typically for an aggregated
mark in assessment
The 2012 UK Credit Forum Survey found 28%
awarded credit where condonement used, and
52% where compensation used
57% required all learning outcomes to be met for
module credit.
Extensive use of RPL-69% of HND and 81% of FD
allow full use of relevant prior credit.
QCF: unit learning outcomes must be met by
demonstrating all related assessment criteria
Assessment must show that all assessment
criteria have been met.
Compensation/condonement not permitted
Exams not usually seen as fit to ensure
assessment criteria are met
QCF qualifications and units are pass/fail,
although awarding organisations can include
supplementary grading (e.g. merit and distinction
grades in HNDs).
QCF rules require that a minimum of 50% of credit
must be at the level of the programme
This can distort programme design, e.g. 3 year
programmes at level 6 must have 50% of units at level
The no compensation rule means all units must be
Awards are typically pass only
FHEQ programmes typically require less, e.g. honours
degrees typically require only 120 credits (from 360)
at level 6
Compensation is typically allowed
Much more use of grades of pass: degree
classifications etc.
Ofqual is the regulator for the QCF
QAA regulates degree awarding bodies
The QAA Quality Code has ‘expectations’ that all HE
providers are required to meet (not just universities)
QAA reviews HE in private colleges as part of ‘Educational
oversight’, so such colleges offering QCF qualifications are
expected to meet the Quality Code expectations
The Quality Code chapter B6, from August 2014, requires
that ‘HE providers operate equitable, valid and reliable
processes of assessment, including for the recognition of
prior learning, which enable every student to demonstrate
the extent to which they have achieved the intended
learning outcomes for the credit or qualification being
Does this pose problems for RPL, compensation and
Ofqual no longer accredits qualifications prior to use by learners, but
delegates this to recognised awarding organisations (AOs)
A large % of units did not conform to regulatory requirements, but this
did not necessarily affect delivery or assessment
Little use in practice of RPL
Centres unclear about their responsibilities to avoid plagiarism and
Titling requirements (only award, certificate or diploma permitted, and
all qualifications of 37 credits or greater are ‘diplomas’) differ from
pre-QCF titling conventions
The requirement that all learning outcomes and their associated
assessment criteria must be met makes assessment burdensome,
examinations problematic, grading difficult and makes higher level
qualifications difficult to fit into the QCF
Source: http://wales.gov.uk/docs/dcells/publications/111406reporten.pdf
Two-thirds of AOs operating in the sector have
qualifications and assessment that do not meet
expected standards for their level
All AOs included in the sample provided examples of
students’ work that did not meet the standards.
Standards of provision fall below what is required
Actions taken by Ofqual against AOs include
withdrawal of recognition, voluntary withdrawal of
level 7 qualifications by an AO and action plans to
address Ofqual’s concerns
Source: http://ofqual.gov.uk/ofdoc_categories/monitoring/thematicreviews/
NQF: often not credit based, but qualifications madeup of units e.g. HNDs to 2012.
◦ Not always easy to determine credit equivalence where no
credit values used e.g. BCS HE qualifications, the ACCA
Overseas frameworks: similar frameworks can be
found in for example South Africa, Australia,
Malaysia, Mauritius
US-style systems: 4 year degrees, typically requiring
120 credits. So if 30 US credits equate to one year,
then multiply cr value x 4 to get approx. credit value.
NARIC useful for information about the level and
details of overseas qualifications
Qualifications can cross boundaries leaflet 2011:
UK Credit Forum Survey 2012: http://www.seec.org.uk/wpcontent/uploads/2013/seecfiles/UK%20Credit%20Survey%202012%20-%20M.%20Flinn.pdf
Review of credit accumulation and transfer policy and practice in
UK higher education HEA 2013:
Regulatory arrangements for the QCF (2008):
The UK Qualifications and credit framework: a critique. Stan
Lester 2011 http://www.sld.demon.co.uk/qcf.pdf

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