The Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF)

What is it?

The Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) is the framework for all of the qualifications that are regulated by Ofqual. It was launched in October 2015 to coincide with the withdrawal of the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF). The RQF has one basic aim that Ofqual believes will give it an advantage over the QCF – simplicity for employers and learners. Therefore, for each qualification we will provide information on the:

  • knowledge and skills that the holder of the qualification will have

  • primary objective of the qualification and the benefit it provides to learners

  • progression routes between qualifications

  • level and size of the qualification, using a common language and terminology


This applies to, and encompasses, every qualification that Ofqual regulates.

What does this mean for me as a centre?

For the most part there will be little to no change in relation to the qualifications you can offer, how you access funding or your relationship with Highfield. However, as with any change, there will be new terms and conditions to get used to and, as RQF qualifications are launched, new qualification specifications will apply.


In most cases the only difference will be the introduction of total qualification time (TQT). We do not anticipate a change to fees.

However, we may make changes to qualifications to align with sector changes and in some cases we may change the assessment method, for example a change to the number of questions in a test. If this is the case, we will keep things as simple as possible and we will contact all centres approved to deliver that qualification to inform them of any actions or outcomes. Until you are notified, you may continue to deliver the qualification as normal.

How can I get involved?

Ofqual has put greater emphasis on awarding organisations maintaining communication with centres and seeking feedback to ensure a qualification remains fit for purpose. Highfield is keen to hear from you if you have feedback on any of our qualifications, including the suitability of their content, assessment methods, materials, GLH and TQT values and system functionality, or anything else you’d like to raise.

In addition, we may actively seek feedback on a more regular basis, so if you would like to be consulted as part of this regular work, please let your account manager know.

When is this being implemented?

All awarding organisations must move their qualifications that are regulated by Ofqual to the RQF by 31 December 2017. Some qualifications have already moved, but this work is still in progress and will continue gradually over the next year. As qualifications move over, centres will be informed and our website will be updated.

What are the RQF requirements?

For every qualification an AO offers, a primary objective must be defined, which must be kept under review. This means AOs will be seeking feedback from centres more frequently to help make sure the objective of a qualification continues to apply.

The following two areas are required for all RQF qualifications.



Ofqual has released new level descriptors. This focuses on the knowledge and skills a holder of the qualification will have, rather than somebody still on-programme. Levels range from entry 1 up to level 8 and these still align to the European Qualification Framework (EQF), making international comparisons – to support mobility and portability – easier.



Perhaps the biggest change is in how the size of qualifications will be measured. Ofqual has introduced a new term, total qualification time (TQT), which will determine the overall size of an RQF qualification.


What is TQT?

TQT stands for ‘total qualification time’ and is an estimate of the total number of hours it would take an average learner to achieve and demonstrate the necessary level of attainment to be awarded with a qualification. TQT is assigned to a qualification as guidance and is not a mandatory requirement unless otherwise specified*. It is calculated by listening to feedback from our centres and may be updated from time to time to better reflect how our centres are delivering training that leads to a qualification. Both the TQT figure and the guided learning figure are included in the new specifications.

It is made up of two parts

  1. Guided learning (sometimes referred to as guided learning hours or GLH) refers to the amount of time it would take an average learner to complete all the aspects of learning, study or assessment of a qualification while being taught, instructed by, or otherwise being under the immediate guidance or supervision of a tutor/assessor. This includes the activity of being assessed if the assessment takes place under immediate guidance, supervision or invigilation.

  2. The number of hours it would take an average learner to complete any other required learning, self-study, preparation and assessment of a qualification without being under the immediate supervision, guidance or invigilation of a tutor/assessor. For example, undertaking e-learning without the supervision of a tutor, completing homework or independent research. This figure is added to the guided learning figure to get the TQT figure


* Please note that some qualifications have a requirement from another regulator for a minimum number of contact hours or taught hours that must be delivered and will be checked. Security qualifications regulated by the SIA are an example of this. Please see individual qualification specifications for details.

What about credit?

Credit still exists under the RQF, however it is completely optional and so some qualifications will have a credit value attached, while others won’t. Where credit is attached, this is determined by dividing the TQT value by 10.

How can I find out more?

You can find our more by visiting the Ofqual website