On so many levels

April 25, 2013

Mary Curnock Cook is right to point out the significance of Level 3 for higher education (“Applying changes”, Opinion, 18 April). She is also correct when she says that “it is difficult to find an official definition of Level 3 qualifications”. The reason it is difficult is not because there isn’t one - it is because there are several and you have to search quite hard to find them all.

Of course, it all depends on what you mean by “official”, but by my reckoning there are at least four “frameworks” in the UK that define Level 3: the Qualifications and Credit Framework; the National Qualifications Framework; the Northern Ireland Credit Accumulation and Transfer System; and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework. To add to the complexity, some UK universities offer their own Level 3 qualifications. And unless you are a Eurosceptic, you might also want to refer to the European Qualifications Framework, too. So many frameworks! Perhaps it is not surprising, as Cook points out, that when you try to find a Level 3 definition on the Ofqual or Department for Education websites, you are given a bit of a runaround.

Where I disagree with Cook is in her rather Anglocentric implication that if only Ofqual and DfE were to get their acts together and define Level 3, the problem would be solved. Even if that happened (and don’t hold your breath) it would only deal with England, leaving Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with their own definitions.

However, I do agree with her that universities should respond to the DfE consultation on Level 3 qualifications.

Mike Farmer
Farmer Research Associates

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