The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) is Scotland’s national qualifications framework. The SCQF supports lifelong learning and can help:
• people of all ages and circumstances to access appropriate education and training over their lifetime, so as to fulfil their personal, social and economic potential.
• employers, learners and the general public to understand the full range of Scottish qualifications, how qualifications relate to each other and to other forms of learning, and how different types of qualification can contribute to improving the skills of the workforce.
SCQF Credit Points
Credit points are a way of showing how much time it takes, on average, to complete a qualification or learning programme. Along with the Level Descriptors, they allow learners, learning providers and employers to compare different qualifications at the same or even different levels.
In common with other credit systems, the SCQF works on the basis that one credit point represents the amount of learning achieved through a notional 10 hours of learning time which includes everything a learner has to do to achieve the outcomes in a qualification including the assessment procedures.
The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework has 12 levels. The different levels indicate the level of difficulty of a particular qualification. The SCQF Level Descriptors outline the general outcomes of learning at SCQF levels under five broad headings:
• knowledge and understanding (mainly subject based);
• practice (applied knowledge and understanding);
• generic cognitive skills (e.g. evaluation, critical analysis);
• communication, numeracy and IT skills; and
• autonomy, accountability and working with others.
The Descriptors allow broad comparisons to be made between qualifications and learning and allow learners, employers and the public in general to understand the range of skills and learning that should be achieved at each level.
The European Qualifications Framework (EQF) acts as a translation device to make national qualifications more readable across Europe, promoting workers’ and learners’ mobility between countries and facilitating their lifelong learning. The EQF aims to relate different countries’ national qualifications systems to a common European reference framework. Individuals and employers will be able to use the EQF to better understand and compare the qualifications levels of different countries and different education and training systems. Since 2012, all new qualifications issued in Europe (including IQN qualifications) carry a reference to an appropriate EQF level.
The core of the EQF concerns eight reference levels describing what a learner knows, understands and is able to do – ‘learning outcomes’. Levels of national qualifications are placed at one of the central reference levels, ranging from basic (Level 1) to advanced (Level 8). This enables a much easier comparison between national qualifications (such as IQN diploma) and should also mean that people do not have to repeat their learning if they move to another country.
The EQF applies to all types of education, training and qualifications, from school education to academic, professional and vocational. This approach shifts the focus from the traditional system which emphasises ‘learning inputs’, such as the length of a learning experience, or type of institution. It also encourages lifelong learning by promoting the validation of non-formal and informal learning.
At present, an enterprise in France may hesitate to recruit a job applicant from, say, Sweden, because it does not understand the level of the qualifications presented by the Swedish candidate. But once the EQF is fully implemented, a Swedish person’s certificates will bear a reference to an EQF reference level. The French authorities will have already decided where their own national certificates in the field concerned lie, so the French enterprise would use the EQF reference to get a better idea of how the Swedish qualification compares to French qualifications. However, as IQN qualifications are already mapped against EQF levels, IQN students can expect more acceptability within and beyond Europe.