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safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education

Academic credit

​The national Credit Frameworks are part of the Quality Code - Part A: Setting and maintaining academic standards. ​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. For a clear introduction to academic credit, read our brief guide

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.

​Academic credit supports lifelong learning. It can help with progression into higher education, transfer between programmes or educational institutions and provides opportunities for learning which takes place outside an educational institution to be recognised.

​Guidance on academic credit arrangements in England

The Higher education credit framework for England: Guidance on academic credit arrangements in higher education in England 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.​ 

Development of this Framework

This Framework was developed by 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. It was published in August 2008.

Implementation of the Framework

During summer 2009, we conducted an online survey, jointly with Universities UK and the Guild for Higher Education, on the implementation of the Framework. The purpose of the survey was to assess the extent to which the Credit Framework had been implemented within HEFCE-funded higher education institutions. A report summarises the key findings and the outcomes.

Relationship to the Qualifications Framework

The Credit Framework for England has been designed to complement The framework for higher education qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (FHEQ). It therefore uses the same levels and refers to the main qualification examples used in the FHEQ.​​


​Guidance on academic credit arrangements in Scotland

The Guidelines to support the use of credit in higher education in Scotland, developed by the Scottish Advisory Committee for Credit and Access Working Group, offer support to colleges and higher education institutions in facilitating releva​nt credit-based links and enabling learners to make informed choices about opportunities to transfer credit. ​ 

Accreditation and recognition of prior learning

Guidelines on the accreditation of prior learning in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Information about recognition of prior learning in Scotland

UK combined credit and qualifications frameworks

The following combined frameworks are published and maintained on other websites:
Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) for England, Wales and Northern Ireland (opens in new window)
Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales (CQFW) / Fframwaith Credydau a Chymwysterau Cymru (opens in new window)
Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) (opens in new window)

Credit in Europe and internationally

For the use of credit in Europe and internationally consult these reference points:
UK Higher Education International Unit (IU) (ope​ns in new window)

Joint Forum on Higher Levels

Joint Forum for Higher Levels: Overarching principles and operational criteria for a common approach to credit
(originally published by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), on behalf of the Joint Forum for Higher Levels).