What is NCFE and is it a Recognised Qualification?

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If you’re a student who has recently been considering their education and employment options, you may have come across the term ‘NCFE’ before. There are lots of institutions and organisations who have a lot of influence on education in the UK, with NCFE being one of them. However, ‘NCFE’ is still unfamiliar to many students: what is it, and are NCFE qualifications recognised qualifications?

NCFE is an educational charity founded in 1848 and is one of the biggest awarding bodies for technical and vocational courses in the UK. It aims to offer students freedom to explore their options in employment and in education. NCFE, and the qualifications they offer, are recognised by employers, universities, and other awarding bodies such as Ofqual (which regulates NCFE). Some of their qualifications are also worth UCAS points.

Don’t worry if everything isn’t clear just yet. In this article, I’ll be explaining what NCFE is and who it’s recognised by!

What is NCFE?

NCFE is a recognised awarding organisation for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It is regulated by the UK’s leading awarding body, Ofqual. I’ll be talking about that later in this article, so keep reading to find out more.

NCFE offers qualifications in vocational and technical courses in a huge variety of fields. NCFE controls the design, development, and certification of all their qualifications, which range from Entry Level to Level 6.

NCFE is one of the largest awarding organisations of vocational and technical qualifications in the UK. It is also an educational charity. If you are unsure about what vocational courses are, check out this article from Think Student.

NCFE qualifications are designed to give students the freedom to explore their options, whether this is moving straight into employment or pursuing higher education.

If you’d like to find out more about NCFE as an organisation, what they do, and how they support students, check out this section of their website.

What is NCFE accredited training?

If training has been accredited by NCFE, this means that it is of high quality and has been approved by an experienced educational qualification. You can find out more about what this means if you check out this article from the Online Learning College website.

According to this page of the NCFE website, “Accredited training allows individuals to achieve certification following completion of a course of your own design in a particular skill or sector, whilst receiving a stamp of approval from a recognised awarding organisation”.

Accredited training is useful for students whose qualifications may be in a small field or tailored to their specific experience.

By having a ‘stamp of approval’ from recognised awarding bodies such as NCFE, this helps students in small fields/niche job sectors to solidify their application by letting employers know their qualification is valid.

Accredited training, according to NCFE, also “can improve specific soft skills or technical skills amongst learners or employees, helping to provide a pool of talented individuals who are armed with the knowledge to go above and beyond in their career or roles”.

You can read more about this on the NCFE website linked for you here. Completing a qualification that isn’t accredited will not have the same recognition as a regulated qualification.

Do employers recognise NCFE qualifications?

Yes, employers definitely recognise NCFE qualifications. A big reason for recognition from key institutions like universities or employers in major sectors is if the qualification comes from a reputable and regulated awarding body.

Since NCFE is regulated by Ofqual, their qualifications will also be regulated and verified as legitimate high-standard qualifications – this means employers will absolutely recognise them!

Employers understand that there are plenty of education pathways. Even if you aren’t on a conventional pathway, as long as your education is proven to be of a high quality, employers will recognise your qualification!

NCFE also offer what they call Customised Qualifications, which are still accredited by NCFE, but they are unregulated (i.e., not regulated by other awarding bodies such as Ofqual).

If you are seeking employing with an unregulated Customised Qualification, NCFE advises that you should check with your employer, as it is up to them if they recognise your qualification or not. You can read more about this on this page of the NCFE website.

Do universities accept NCFE qualification?

Yes, some universities do accept NCFE qualifications. However, this varies by university, so if you’re unsure, you should check on your university’s website.

As stated on the NCFE website, linked here, “Large UK universities, including Russell Group institutions, support our qualifications. They accept these as a valid entry route to HE”.

The NCFE also recommend that you check entry requirements with your university, as universities set their own entry requirements, so NCFE qualifications may not always be included.

As I’ll talk about later in this article, some NCFE qualifications are worth UCAS points which means universities will accept them as a valid part of your application.

Below is a short list of some of the universities that accept NCFE qualifications:

  • University of Bristol – you can find a list of accepted UK qualifications on their website here.
  • University of Cumbria – check out their specialised support for NCFE students on this page of their website.
  • University of Hull this page of their website has a list of accepted qualifications.

Are NCFE qualifications recognised by UCAS?

Yes, NCFE and the qualifications it offers are recognised by UCAS. However, only certain NCFE qualifications are recognised by UCAS (these are typically NCFE Level 3 qualifications). Similarly, only certain NCFE Level 3 qualifications are worth UCAS points.

This means that UCAS does recognise NCFE as a certified awarding body, even if UCAS points are only ascribed to particular qualifications within a qualification level.

In the list below, you can see examples of some of the qualifications NCFE offers that are recognised by UCAS and worth UCAS points. All links are from the UCAS website:

  • NCFE Technical Levels (Early Years Education and Care, Childcare and Education, Health and Social Care), linked here.
  • NCFE Health and Social Care qualifications (Level 3 Award, Certificate, Extended Diploma), linked here.
  • NCFE Level 3 Sport and Physical Activity qualifications (Level 3 Introductory Certificate, Certificate Diploma, Extended Diploma), linked here.

If you’d like to view a full list of the NCFE qualifications that are recognised by UCAS, I’d recommend checking out this page of the UCAS website.

Is NCFE recognised by Ofqual?

In case you aren’t aware, the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) regulates qualifications, examinations, and assessments in England.

Ofqual regulates vocational and technical qualifications, which are the qualifications that NCFE offer. You can read more about Ofqual and what they do on this page of the government website.

In terms of whether NCFE is recognised as a qualification provider by Ofqual, yes, NCFE is recognised by Ofqual.

This page of the NCFE website states, “As an awarding organisation, we are approved and regulated by Ofqual – England’s statutory regulator for qualifications.”

The website goes on to say, “This recognition enables us to approve colleges and training centres to deliver our qualifications, and learners can therefore choose those centres with confidence.”

This means that any qualifications you receive from NCFE are certified and recognised by Ofqual which is a trusted and reliable regulator.

However, there is an exception to this. Any unregulated qualifications, such as the Customised Qualifications that NCFE offers, are not regulated, or certified by Ofqual.

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