Understanding the SCQF

If your child is studying SQA qualifications, you will become more aware of the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF), as it is included on your son or daughter’s SQA Scottish Qualifications Certificate which is issued every August.

What is the SCQF?

The SCQF is Scotland’s lifelong learning framework. It can help you compare the wide range of Scottish qualifications. It covers achievements such as those from school, college and university, and work-based qualifications.

The SCQF has 12 levels. Qualifications at level 1 are the simplest to achieve, and qualifications at level 12 are the most demanding.

The SCQF credit points show how much learning is involved in achieving each qualification. One SCQF credit point represents an average of 10 hours of learning.

For example, one person may study a course at National 4 (SCQF level 4) and another at Higher (SCQF level 6). Both award the same number of SCQF credit points, but they are at different levels of difficulty.

What is the SCQF for?

The SCQF makes qualifications easier to describe and understand. Before the SCQF, there was no easy way to compare different types of qualifications. Now it is easy to see that, for example, an Advanced Higher is at the same level as a Higher National Certificate (HNC), the first year of a degree or an SVQ level 3. They are all at level 7 on the SCQF because, although they have a different focus, content and types of assessment, the demands on the learner are roughly the same.

This means that your son or daughter can be confident that their qualification has the same worth whether it was achieved through college, the workplace, school, university or another route.

How is the SCQF being used?

All Scottish universities and colleges are now using SCQF levels and credit points to describe their courses, if these are included in the Framework. A wide range of other learning is also recognised on the SCQF and we have provided some examples in the table below.

Employers are increasingly using SCQF levels instead of, or as well as, types of qualifications when they advertise jobs.

Framework Diagram – Click to access interactive framework

The SCQF can:

  • help your child understand the benefits of vocational qualifications;
  • help your child plan their learning and be really useful at times of change, for example, when choosing subjects, moving from third to fourth year at secondary school, or from school to college, university or training;
  • help employers understand the different types of qualifications your child may have achieved and which they will use on CVs and job applications;
  • help universities or colleges identify the level your child has studied at in a particular subject, and make it easier to transfer SCQF credits between different learning programmes; and
  • recognise other learning programmes that may contribute to your child’s personal development and goals for the future.

Framework Diagram:

We have produced the Framework diagram to show the mainstream Scottish qualifications that SQA, colleges and universities have already given an SCQF level and credit points to. However, there is a varied range of learning programmes on the Framework, which, due to the limitations of this format, we cannot show here. For more information on other learning that has an SCQF level and credit points, please visit the SCQF database.

Other learning programmes and wider achievement

Some other learning programmes that your child might take at school, college or a local youth club may have an SCQF level and credit points. Modern Apprenticeships, which are available in many industries, are also included on the SCQF across levels 5 to 12. To check if a programme is on the SCQF, search the database. The database shows the SCQF level and number of credit points awarded to each learning programme.

Frequently asked questions

What do the level and credit columns mean on my son or daughter’s SQA exam certificate?

These refer to the SCQF levels of the qualifications your child has taken, and reflect the knowledge and skill they needed to achieve that particular award. So, for example, a Higher will have a ‘6’ in the level column and a ‘24’ in the credit column, which is equal to 240 hours of learning. For more information, have a look at our helpful video. SQA also has lots of information on its certificates here www.sqa.org.uk/sqc.

How do the Nationals and Curriculum for Excellence fit with the SCQF?

Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) provides a rounded education experience for your child. The National qualifications directly link to their SCQF level. For more information on CfE, visit the Parentzone website. For more information on Nationals, visit www.sqa.org.uk/cfeforparents. The National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS) has also produced a series of ‘Nationals in a Nutshell’ subject guides for parents and carers. Visit www.npfs.org.uk to find out more.

Click to download a pdf copy

How do SCQF credit points relate to UCAS tariff points? Are they the same?

SCQF credit points are not the same as UCAS tariff points. UCAS is the organisation that processes applications for higher-education courses, and tariff points relate to the grade at which a qualification has been achieved. SCQF credit points are a measure of how much learning needs to be done to achieve a particular qualification, whatever the final grade.

Are Modern Apprenticeships (MAs) now on the SCQF?

Yes, they are available in many industries across SCQF levels 5-12. There’s lots more information on MAs on the Skills Development Scotland website at www.apprenticeships.scot.

How does the SCQF link with Scottish Government’s Youth Employment Strategy, Developing the Young Workforce?

Developing the Young Workforce is the Scottish Government’s response to Education Working for All. The strategy outlines a seven-year programme to offer all young people in Scotland a broader range of choices in the Senior Phase (from fourth to sixth year) of their school years and higher-quality work experience. It also aims to build closer connections between schools, colleges and employers. The SCQF supports the strategy by showing the equality between vocational and academic qualifications and helps learners to plan their learning.

See our DYW Infographic for more information.

How do the new qualifications compare with the ones that I took at school?

We have developed a simple guide called Old v New that helps people understand how current and older qualifications relate to one another in terms of their SCQF level. You can download it from our website.

You will find more frequently asked questions for parents and carers in our FAQ section.

Should you have any further questions relating to SCQF Credits or Levels please get in touch via email on info@scqf.org.uk Tel: 0845 270 7371 or connect with us on Twitter or Facebook