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Important information for learners receiving Scottish Qualification Certificates

Happy teenage girl reading through her exam results letter

You may have opted to receive your SQA results by text or email but all students will receive a Scottish Qualifications Certificate (SQC) via first class mail by TUESDAY 4th AUGUST.

With your SQA certificate you get a profile sheet which includes your SCQF Profile. Understanding the SCQF will help you to make sense of your exam certificate, and can help you plan your next steps, particularly if you didn’t receive the results you hoped for and have to make alternative choices.


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What is the SCQF?

The SCQF is the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework - it is a way of comparing Scottish qualifications. It covers the qualifications you will achieve at school, college, university, and many qualifications you may go on to achieve at work. It does this by giving each qualification a level and credit points. The level of a qualification shows how difficult the learning is.

For example, one person may study a National 4 at SCQF Level 4, and another a Higher at SCQF Level 6. Both qualifications have 24 SCQF credit points but have different levels of difficulty. The credit points show how much you need to learn to achieve that qualification.

What is it for?

The SCQF makes it easier to describe, compare and understand qualifications. Before the SCQF, there was no easy way to compare different qualifications. Now it is easy to see that, for example, an NPA at SCQF Level 5 is at the same level as a National 5. Most Scottish universities and colleges now use SCQF levels and credit points to describe their courses.

The SCQF can:

  • help you plan your learning and make the right choices;
  • help employers understand your qualifications;
  • help universities or colleges identify the level you have studied at in a particular subject, and make it easier to transfer credits between different learning programmes;
  • increase your confidence by showing you the level of learning you have achieved; and
  • recognise other areas of formal and informal learning or skills that may help you to develop and achieve your goals.

See your level of learning and compare qualifications on our interactive framework diagram


SCQF Levels

The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework has 12 levels. The different levels indicate the level of difficulty of a particular qualification.


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.


Credit Transfer

In some instances it may be possible to transfer SCQF credit points to other learning programmes to ensure that a learner does not have to repeat any learning they have already undertaken.

Universities and colleges, SQA and other awarding bodies decide how many of the credit points already received from previous learning can be transferred into their programmes. In all cases of credit transfer it would be the decision of the accepting learning institution as to how many credit points could be transferred.


There are over 11,500 qualifications on the SCQF. Here are just a few others:


Frequently asked questions

Are SCQF credit points the same as UCAS tariff points?

SCQF credit points are not the same as UCAS tariff points. UCAS tariff points relate to the grades you have achieved. SCQF credits are a measure of how much you need to learn to achieve a qualification, no matter what grade you get.

Why does an ‘A’ at Higher get the same number of SCQF credit points as a ‘C’ at Higher?

The number of SCQF credit points you’ve gained doesn’t change depending on your grade at any particular level. SCQF credits reflect how much learning you’ve done, not how well you’ve learned a subject.

Will my qualifications be recognised if I move abroad?

SCQF levels are now referenced against the European Qualifications Framework (EQF), so learning institutions and employers in Europe can easily compare your qualifications against their own country’s qualifications framework.

If I build up SCQF credit points, will I get into college or university?

Not directly, although SCQF credit points help admissions officers in colleges and universities know exactly how much learning you have done and at what level. The admissions officers still have other factors to consider, such as the subjects you studied and grades you achieved.

Will the SCQF help me to get a job?

Not directly, but it will help employers understand the level of difficulty of each qualification, as well as the number of credit points you have achieved as part of your personal development. As your career develops, any work-based qualifications you achieve may add to the number of credits you already have.


SQA Support

If something is wrong or missing from your certificate, call your school/college who will contact SQA.

The SQA Candidate Advice Line is available from 4-7 August for help regarding your certificate please call 0345 279 1000


Results Helpline

Skills Development Scotland’s Results Helpline will open at 8am on results day with careers advisers from across Scotland offering advice, information and support for young people and their parents and carers.

They can help with advice and information on UCAS course vacancies at UK colleges and universities, Confirmation and Clearing, apprenticeships, jobs, volunteering and more. Just call 0808 100 8000.

Find out more now at Scotland’s careers website My World of Work.


Other Support

Remember there is lots of support out there for learners via SQA, Young Scot and My World of Work and for parents via NPFS and My Kid’s Career.

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

About the author

Katie McKenna

Digital Communications Officer, SCQF Partnership

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