QAA Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ)

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Central to the work of assuring standards and quality is the QAA’s UK Quality Code for Higher Education (the Quality Code), which sets out the expectations all providers of UK higher education are required to meet. It gives all higher education providers a shared starting point for setting, describing and assuring the academic standards of their higher education awards and programmes and the quality of the learning opportunities they provide. The Quality Code is the core reference point used in all QAA review activity. It was introduced in the 2012-13 academic year, replacing its predecessor the Academic Infrastructure. The QAA UK Quality Code is grouped into three Parts:​​

Part A on academic standards

Part B on academic quality

Part C on information about higher education provision

Each of these is subdivided into Chapters covering specific themes. Part A also includes the Qual​​ifications Frameworks, the Subject Benchmark St​atements and the Higher Education Credit Framework.

The FHEQ is designed to ensure a consistent use of qualification titles across the sector. It is a framework based upon the outcomes represented by the main qualifications titles, but is not a credit framework, nor dependent on the use of credit. There is one framework for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and a separate one for Scotland. Both are combined in the one publication.

The Qualifications Frameworks describe the achievement represented by higher education qualifications. They apply to degrees, diplomas, certificates and other academic awards granted by a higher education provider with degree awarding powers.

Further details on the Framework can be found on the QAA’s website.

All students pursuing programmes of study at UCL are, on successful completion, awarded qualifications in accordance with the FHEQ. External Examiners are asked to verify this. There are five levels to the framework; three at undergraduate level and two are postgraduate:

  • 1 Certificate C level - Certificates of Higher Education
  • 2 Intermediate I level - Foundation degrees, ordinary (Bachelors) degrees, Diplomas of Higher Education and other higher diplomas
  • 3 Honours H level - Bachelors degrees with Honours, Graduate Certificates and Graduate Diplomas
  • 4 Masters M level - Masters degrees, Postgraduate Certificates and Postgraduate Diplomas
  • 5 Doctoral D level - Doctorates.

 Page editors: Rachel Port (; Lizzie Vinton (