Lifelong learning needs a qualification framework

October 22, 1999

The qualifications framework outlined in the Quality Assurance Agency's new consultative document makes eminently good sense. The jumble of quaint titles does not serve higher education well as the market in qualifications goes global. Furthermore, if there is to be any kind of credit accumulation and transfer system within the United Kingdom - an essential aspect of developing lifelong learning - some common tariff is a necessity. Such rationalisation has been under discussion for a decade and now is a good time to move from chat to action. It is to be hoped that agreement is not too hard to secure.

Getting people signed up may, however, depend on bits of the proposed structure that are still missing, namely the thresholds and benchmarks for subjects. If the qualifications framework gets tangled up with anything that looks like detailed interference in curricula, acceptance could be much harder to secure. While the QAA has wisely steered clear of prescription on the PhD, it is not yet clear how hands-off it will be in other areas.

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