Credit Points – Accumulation and Transfer
Credit points are the core of both the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF), the national credit transfer system in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). Although the SQCF slightly differs from the QCF, both frameworks basically work the same when it comes to credit point accumulation and transfer. But firstly, let’s see why credit points are so important.
The QCF and SCQF are based on units with each unit having a credit value and a level. One credit point represents about 10 hours of learning and since qualifications are awarded on basis of the amount of accumulated credit points, the learner can quickly determine how much time it will take to gain the desired qualification. Credit points indicate the size of learning but they do not indicate its difficulty. As a result, credit points are often used with level descriptors which in turn reveal the difficulty of the qualification.
All QCF and SCQF accredited awarding organisations have to comply with the criteria for awarding qualifications. These foresee three types of qualifications that are awarded on the basis of accumulated credit points:
- awards; to gain an award, it is necessary to have 1 to 12 credits
- certificates foresee accumulation of 13 to 36 credit points
- diplomas require a minimum of 37 accumulated credits
From the criteria for qualifications above, it is possible to calculate an approximation of the time required to gain a particular qualification considering than one credit equals 1 credit point. This means that an award requires 10 to 120 hours of learning, while a diploma takes at least 370 hours of learning. Since credits indicate the size, not the difficulty level, an award can be acquired at any level including Level 1.
Both the QCF and SCQF are designed to allow the learners to transfer their credit points. For example, a learner who wants to continue education or start a new learning programme therefore may not need to start all over again and repeat the learning he or she has already undertaken but simply continue the learning. The ability of credit transfer, however, does not mean that the accumulated credit points are automatically accepted by another learning institution or awarding body. How many and if any credits at all will be accepted depends on individual education institutions and of course, the acquired qualification and subject content. The decision depends primarily on relevance of the completed learning for the new programme. The more the two programmes are related the higher the chance of the entry or credit transfer being approved.