Scotland is leading the United Kingdom with its blueprint for a national framework covering all qualifications, from those for people with learning difficulties to postgraduate degrees.
The Scottish Advisory Committee on Credit and Access has sent out a consultation paper, "Adding Value to Learning", on the proposed Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework, and is seeking responses by mid-June.
The framework, hoped to be in place from 2000, is being developed through a partnership that includes SACCA, the Committee of Scottish Higher Education Principals, the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, the Scottish Qualifications Authority, and the Scottish Office Education and Industry Department.
David Swinfen, SACCA's chairman and vice-principal of Dundee University, said it planned to boost lifelong learning and improve skills by helping all learners, employers and educational institutions to understand the Scottish system, including how different qualifications are related.
The SCQF builds on the established Scottish Credit Accumulation and Transfer scheme, already accepted by all higher education institutions. It aims to help avoid duplication of learning by credit transfer where possible. But the SCQF will cover only general credit. Qualification-awarding bodies will work out how much credit to grant for a transfer.
The framework will initially have 11 levels, ranging from national certificate access courses to masters' degrees. But the consultation paper emphasises that levels are not intrinsically linked to years of full-time study or programmes of study.