A lone voice (2)

November 3, 2000

The problem with the Quality Assurance Agency's qualifications framework is its failure to distinguish between different kinds of qualifications.

Vocational qualifications are taught mainly through problem-based learning and apprenticeships, leading to "know-how". Academic degrees are taught mainly through conceptual development and lead to "knowledge" and "understanding".

It is possible to rank within each but to rank across them is meaningless. Underpinning problem-solving are understanding and know-how: the former is an aid for problems that lie beyond practice; the latter for innovations in practice. Both are valuable in a profession, so calling only one of them vocational is a mistake.

John Sparkes Hemel Hempstead

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