What’s in a Qualification Title?

What’s in a Qualification Title?

All qualifications on Ofqual’s Register of Regulated Qualifications include a number of common elements in their title. These are required by Ofqual’s General Conditions of Recognition and can be used to identify the key characteristics of a qualification. For example, all qualifications on the register must include a level in their title (see the previous article in the series, What’s in a Qualification Level for more details).

In addition to the level, all qualification titles must also contain the following:

  • – The name of the Awarding Organisation (e.g. SFJ Awards)
  • – The qualification type
  • – A concise indication of the content of the qualification
  • – Any endorsement known at the time the qualification is submitted to the register

‘Award’, ‘Certificate’ and ‘Diploma’ are key terms used to indicate the size of a qualification. Qualifications on the Ofqual Register must only use the term:

    • ‘Award’ to indicate a small qualification that has a Total Qualification Time (TQT) value of 120 hours or less
    • ‘Certificate’ to indicate a medium qualification that has a TQT of 121-369 hours
    • ‘Diploma’ to indicate a large qualification that has a TQT of 370 hours or more

Ofqual Guidance to the General Conditions of Recognition. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-the-general-conditions-of-recognition

Other frameworks may use these or similar definitions, whereas others may use different definitions. For example, the Higher Education Frameworks use qualification descriptors to define the characteristics of a particular qualification and they use the terms Certificate and Diploma in relation to both size and level of qualifications.

QAA UK Quality Code for Higher Education: Part A: Setting and Maintaining Academic Standards. Available at: http://www.qaa.ac.uk/quality-code

The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework has a similar approach, with qualification types being defined by their title and level (e.g. Doctoral Degrees sit at Level 12, Professional Apprenticeships can be Level 10-12, Diploma of HE sits at Level 8 and a Certificate in HE sits at Level 7).

SCQF Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework. Available at: https://scqf.org.uk/interactive-framework/

Qualification titles can therefore be used to identify the key characteristics of a qualification. They will give an indication of the size and level of a qualification as well as giving an overview of the specific content. However, it is important to understand which framework a qualification sits on. For example, a Diploma which sits on the Ofqual Register will have a TQT of 370 hours or more and could be aligned to any level on the Regulated Qualifications Framework. In contrast, a Diploma of Higher Education will sit on the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications for England, Wales and Northern Ireland (FHEQ) at Level 5 and would be approximately 120 European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) credits which would equate to a notional learning time of 1200 hours.