Giving you the confidence to choose the right qualification



The value of this book2

A guide to the book2



Chapter 1
Some fundamentals

What is a qualification?8

The qualification ‘standard’9

The importance of reputation9

How qualifications are structured10

Learning outcomes12

The importance of good titling13

The length of a qualification14


Transferring learning with credit16


How do you like to learn?21

Some vocabulary22


Chapter 2
The qualification system in the UK

Why the qualification system in the UK can be so confusing26

The free market in qualifications27

Qualification developers27

Quality assurance30

The delivery of qualifications32


Chapter 3
How to choose the right level of qualification

The significance of ‘level’38

Getting the right information from a complex system40


Chapter 4
How to judge the cost of a qualification

The cost of a qualification44

Quality indicators49



Chapter 5
How to judge the quality of a qualification

Good information58


Regulated and quality-assured62

Reputation and employability66

Quality indicators68


Chapter 6
How to judge the quality of assessment

What do you need to know about assessment?72

Assessment that is fair and accurate78

How your questions and issues on assessment should be managed84

Quality indicators85


Chapter 7
How to judge the quality of a learning provider

Robust entry requirements and application procedures88

The quality of the information provided by the learning provider90

The quality of resources and learning environment94

The quality of teaching and support provided by a learning provider98

The quality of service provided to disabled learners100

Customer services and the management of complaints102

The management of poor practice103

How to utilise inspection reports and other sources of information on the quality of learning providers105

Quality indicators111


Chapter 8
How to get information and advice

Where to search for the right qualification114

Help and advice117

Where to go to get help and advice as an international student121

Where to get help and advice as a disabled learner121


Chapter 9
Going abroad with your qualification

‘Qualifications can cross boundaries’125

The European Qualifications Framework (EQF)126

Other useful tools and sources of information128


Chapter 10
Your rights as a qualification consumer

Who is accountable for your qualification134

Your fundamental rights as a qualification consumer135

The right to good customer service136

The right to teaching of high quality137

The right to a well-resourced learning environment138

The right not to be discriminated against139

The right to be charged a fair price140

The right for your qualification to be clearly described141

The right to be confident in the standard of your qualification143

The right to reliable and fair assessment practices143

The right to have your work remarked or resit your examination145

The right to complain146

The right for your personal information to be managed securely146

The right to receive a uniquely identifiable qualification certificate147

The rational consumer148


Annex 1
The qualification frameworks in the UK

The significance of the different qualification ‘levels’152


Annex 2
An overview of the types of learning provider in the UK

Compulsory education up to 16159

Post-16 education161

Higher education and adult learning161


Annex 3
An overview of the types of qualifications available in the UK

14-19 qualifications165

Skills-based qualifications168

Vocational qualifications170

Bachelors degrees, masters degrees and doctorates172


Annex 4
An overview of organisations involved in UK qualifications

Government departments in education175

Qualification regulators and quality assurance agencies176

Inspectorates and accreditation bodies177

Organisations involved specifically in the management of complaints and appeals178

Organisations involved in funding qualifications178

Organisations involved in the development of skills180

Where to search for qualifications, learning providers and get careers advice181

Government services181

Private organisations184

Representative bodies185

Help and advice for international students185

European information services and initiatives186

Services supporting disabled learners187

Organisations responsible for the processing of student applications188