May 2010

Titling of courses - changes as part of the move to the QCF

The recent migration of CPCAB qualifications to the new Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) has prompted a number of enquiries from both tutors and candidates about various aspects of the new framework, including changes to the titles of qualifications.

All QCF qualifications are based on ‘units’ and ‘credit’ and this directly affects the title. You may find the following extract from the ‘Regulatory arrangements for the Qualifications and Credit Framework’ (Ofqual, August 2008) pp 5 and 6 useful. It explains how the new unitised qualifications are structured and how their titles, which in some cases have changed from their earlier NQF counterparts, reflect both the size and the academic level of the qualification.

The design of the QCF
All units and qualifications in the QCF have a credit value (one credit represents 10 hours, showing how much time and effort it takes to complete) and a level between Entry level and level 8 (showing the level of challenge or difficulty of it).

There are three sizes of qualification in the QCF:

The structure of the QCF and the way in which qualifications are represented in is illustrated in the diagram below.

  Award Certificate Diploma
      1 to 12 credits 13 to 36 credits 37 credits and above

From this you will see that the titles ‘award’, ‘certificate’ and ‘diploma’ reflect the number of credits achieved by the learner and, hence, the length of the qualification in terms of notional learning time. A qualification entitled ‘diploma’, therefore, will show that more than 360 learning hours are required. It does not reflect the level of competence required - a credit bears no relation to the level of study involved as it represents 10 hours of study at any level. For example, a learner who has achieved a ‘certificate’ at level 6 has worked at a higher level of competence than someone who has achieved a ‘diploma’ at level 4.

Some confusion seems to have crept in because of the association in our minds with a ‘diploma’ being a higher-level qualification and a ‘certificate’ a lower-level one. All this has changed now with the advent of the QCF and in time, of course, the way the different terms are used will become more familiar.

For the benefit of holders of the current NQF qualification Cognitive Behavioural Therapeutic Skills and Theory (CBT-L5), we have produced a ‘letter of equivalence’ which can be printed out and displayed in conjunction with the certificate issued to successful candidates if desired. The letter explains (for the benefit of future employers or clients) that the holder has followed a course of study which, while different from the QCF version, equips the student for a similar role. The letter was included as part of our April ‘Update’ and can be downloaded from the CPCAB website. Or we can supply a hard copy if you prefer - if so please contact CPCAB in the usual way.

A similar letter of equivalence for the Level 6 Counselling Supervision qualification can be provided if there is any demand in the future; please contact CPCAB if you would be interested in receiving this.

We hope this clears up some of your questions. As always, thank you for supporting us during what has been quite a challenging time for all concerned.

May 2010