There are 4 main frameworks that group all qualifications into the same levels from entry to level 8.

The frameworks in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are:

  • National Qualifications Framework (NQF)
  • Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) in England and Northern Ireland
  • Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales (CQFW) in Wales
  • Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ)

All qualifications in these frameworks are accredited (officially recognised).

NQF and QCF qualifications

Courses in these frameworks range from entry level up to level 8.

QCF courses are vocational (work-related). They use a credit system so that you can study units at your own pace and build these up into qualifications over time.

NQF and QCF qualifications include:

  • English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
  • Skills for Life
  • GCSEs and A Levels
  • International Baccalaureate
  • BTEC courses
  • Foundation Learning
  • National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs)
  • Cambridge Nationals
  • Higher National Certificates (HNC)
  • Higher National Diplomas (HND)

Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ)

This is the framework for higher education courses. It starts at level 4 and goes up to level 8. Qualifications it covers include:

  • Certificate of Higher Education
  • Diploma of Higher Education
  • bachelor’s degrees
  • master’s degrees
  • doctoral degrees

Qualifications in Scotland

Scotland uses the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework.

More help and information

You can search for accredited qualifications.

Find out more about further education or contact the National Careers Service.

National Careers Service
National Careers Service website
Email a careers adviser
Telephone: 0800 100 900
Monday to Sunday, 8am to 10pm
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You can also arrange for a National Careers Service adviser to call you - this won’t cost you anything.

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