News story

Consulting on a new regulated qualifications framework

Ofqual has published a consultation proposing a new framework describing all of the qualifications we regulate.

Today (25 March) Ofqual has published a consultation proposing a new framework describing all regulated qualifications in England and vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland.

This consultation follows our decision announced last year to withdraw the rules governing the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF), which, the evidence showed, often inhibited good qualification design.

We are proposing that in the future all regulated qualifications should be described by a new ‘Framework of Regulated Qualifications’. Under the proposed new approach, qualifications would no longer have to be unitised or credit-bearing, but could be if that was the best way for the qualification to meet its purpose.

Each qualification would be allocated a level to help students, colleges, employers and others to understand its level of demand. Qualifications would also be allocated a size, providing clear information about the typical time it should take to complete the qualification.

Jeremy Benson, Ofqual’s Executive Director for Vocational Qualifications, said: “We look forward to hearing views on our consultation.

The new descriptive framework we’re proposing should make qualifications easier to understand. It’s not like the QCF, which sought to impose a particular view of what qualifications should look like. Our proposals aim to provide more freedom for awarding organisations to develop qualifications that better meet the needs of employers, universities and others.

Removing the QCF rules and introducing a new framework does not mean an end to all QCF qualifications - they can stay so long as they are sufficiently valid. What will matter in future will be whether qualifications can be shown to be good, not whether they are designed to tick particular boxes.

We know frameworks can be used to support a range of other purposes too, and we would also welcome the views from others who might look to use the Framework of Regulated Qualifications.


  • The consultation ‘After the QCF: A new qualifications framework’ will run 25 March to 17 June 2015.
  • It follows an initial consultation in 2014, where we proposed to withdraw the QCF rules and to introduce a descriptive framework. We announced the decisions following that consultation in December 2014.
  • The proposals on which we are consulting would apply to all awarding organisations and their qualifications that we regulate. This covers general and vocational qualifications taken in England and vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland.
  • The QCF rules were originally developed with the regulator in Wales and the body that regulates general qualifications in Northern Ireland (CCEA). These bodies will decide whether to adopt the same or a similar approach to our proposals.
Published 25 March 2015