Regulated Qualifications Framework | Innovate Awarding

Regulated Qualifications Framework

Regulated Qualifications Framework Regulated Qualifications Framework

Qualifications explained

Understanding qualifications on the Regulated Qualifications Framework

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The Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) provides a single, simple system for cataloguing all qualifications regulated by Ofqual. Qualifications at any specific level can be different from one another, for example in their content and purpose. Qualifications are indexed by their ‘level’ and ‘size’; the easiest way to understand the RQF is through the way they are indexed:



The level indicates the difficulty and complexity of the knowledge and skills associated with any qualification. There are eight levels, supported by three ‘entry’ levels. While most qualifications will be assigned a single level some, such as GCSEs, can span more than one. Levels are a standard way of comparing how challenging a qualification is and what learners should be able to do once they have successfully completed it. Previous frameworks, such as the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) set out the levels against which a qualification can be recognised in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The previous NQF and QCF are comprised of a similar format with eight comparable levels, supported by three entry levels.



Size refers to the estimated total amount of time it could typically take to study and be assessed for a qualification. This can be anything from a matter of hours to several years of study. Different students can take different amounts of time to study for the same qualification. Size is expressed in terms of Total Qualification Time (TQT). The part of that time spent being taught or supervised in person by a teacher, trainer or tutor, rather than studying alone, is known as Guided Learning Hours (GLH).

Qualifications can sit at different levels, but require similar amounts of study and assessment time. Equally, qualifications at the same level can take different amounts of study and assessment time.



The content of the qualification is captured by the title of the qualification.

The RQF replaced the Qualifications and Credit Framework, and National Qualifications Framework in October 2015. All Innovate Awarding Ofqual regulated qualifications can be found on the Register of Regulated Qualificationswhere you can also view the level and a basic outline of the content of a qualification and the relevant units. 

Due to this change of framework, QCF will no longer appear as part of the qualification title on your certificate.

More information about regulated qualifications can be found on the Ofqual website.



There are many qualifications available to learners over the age of 16, and not just the traditional qualifications such as GCSE, AS, A Level or BTEC. Some of the most popular qualifications are NVQs and Apprenticeships.


National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) are work-related, competence based qualifications. They are sector specific, set by the industry themselves. NVQs reflect the skills and knowledge required to do a job effectively. NVQs are work based qualifications and focus on practical performance, knowledge and understanding. They have a direct relationship with National Occupational Standards which are set down by bodies led by the sectors the NVQs operate in.



Apprenticeships are work-based training programmes that are designed to help employers train people for specific job roles. At the same time, apprentices get a paying job with valuable training while they work towards a nationally recognised qualification, as well as a defined training plan to a recognised employer led standard.

Most of the apprentice's training takes place on the job, with the rest provided by a local college or specialist learning provider. Employers who take on apprentices get access to motivated, talented people who can be trained up quickly to increase capacity and plug their skills gaps. The employer pays the apprentice's wages, but government funding is available to meet the costs of training and any assessments. 

Find out more about Innovate Awarding's apprenticeships