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safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education

Academic credit 

Credit is a means of quantifying and recognising learning whenever and wherever it is achieved. It can be used as a tool to compare learning achieved in different contexts.

Most institutions that provide higher education programmes of study in England use credit and have done so for many years. This facilitates the recognition of students’ learning by different institutions in different parts of the UK and internationally.

Credit is awarded when the specific set of learning outcomes for a module or programme have been successfully demonstrated. Small amounts of measurable learning can therefore be accredited and recorded, and can potentially be accumulated towards a qualification.

Credit can be used to support entry to a higher education programme of study. As credits are accumulated, it can make it easier to take a break from study, or to transfer to another programme either within the same institution or at a different institution. Academic credit is used and recognised internationally and so can facilitate study abroad.

Learning undertaken outside formal educational settings, for example in the community or work-based learning, can also be accredited. Credits can be accumulated to meet a range of personal and career development needs.

An introduction to academic credit

Our introduction to academic credit describes what credit is and how it is used in higher education in England. It is intended for prospective and current students, or for those with no previous knowledge of credit.

Academic credit in higher education in England - an introduction

Higher education credit framework

The Credit Issues Development Group (CIDG), which comprised representatives of QAA, Universities UK, GuildHE, the Higher Education Funding Council for England and other relevant practitioners and representatives, published the Higher education credit framework for England: guidance on academic credit arrangements in higher education in England in August 2008.

This credit framework provides guidance on the use of credit in the design of programmes leading to the main higher education qualifications awarded in England. Not all higher education institutions in England use credit-based systems in the design and management of their curricula and so the framework is not an essential or formal part of external quality assurance procedures. However, those institutions in England that elect to use credit are encouraged to use this credit framework in order to promote consistency of approach across the higher education sector in the use of credit.

Higher education credit framework for England: guidance on academic credit arrangements in higher education in England

QAA, UUK and GuildHE survey on implementation of the Higher education credit framework for England

During summer 2009, QAA undertook an online survey on the implementation of The higher education credit framework for England. The survey was conducted jointly with UUK and GuildHE. The purpose of the survey was to assess the extent to which the credit framework had been implemented within HEFCE-funded higher education institutions in England. A report summarises the key findings and the outcomes of the survey.

Relationship to The framework for higher education qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (FHEQ)

The Higher education credit framework for England has been designed to complement the implementation of the FHEQ and it therefore uses the same levels and refers to the main qualification examples used in the FHEQ.

QAA has published a statement outlining the relationship between the credit framework and the FHEQ and explaining how both frameworks relate to academic standards.

Further information

Please contact Sarah Butler if you require further information about the Higher education credit framework for England or the CIDG.

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