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Frequently Asked Questions

Wessex Business School has developed an educational framework, which integrates both vocational, and Higher Education units to provide a flexible “Through Life” development programme. Since 2004, the directors of Wessex Business School have worked closely with members of HM Forces and the civil servants who support our military personnel.

It is the vision of the Business School that their military students attain highly credible qualifications that both compliments their training and also prepares them for their next career. The curriculum offered is a unique and ground-breaking academic programme that has extensively evolved into a full programme of undergraduate study.

Regarding the programmes of study we deliver, here are some of the Questions we are often asked by our students


What is APL?

The Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) is used to describe the process of giving credit for previous learning. In other words, make your military training and experience count! It is a general term and covers several types.

These are:

  • APCL – this describes the process where you already have a particular qualification that may be applicable to a particular course. This will be investigated and, if applicable, credit will be awarded. This is called the Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning – APCL
  • APEL – The second type involves the award of credits for learning through experience not associated with a particular qualification. An example of this would be skills and knowledge gained through everyday work which would not normally be credited towards a qualification. This would then be the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning – APEL

Any claim that you make will either be APCL or APEL or a combination of both.


 

What is WBL?

Work Based Learning is a way of creating FE and HE level learning in the workplace. Learning is focused around work-linked features that take place throughout the working day and the general working environment. By using an actual working role and an organisation's objectives as a focus for academic enquiry, Work Based Learning provides a unique and structured approach to assessment that benefits both the individual employee and the employing organisation.


 

What is the QCF? (Qualifications and Credit Framework)

The QCF is a new framework for recognising and accrediting the qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Framework is at the centre of a significant restructure of vocational qualifications. The QCF framework is designed to simplify and make the whole vocational qualification system easier to understand. Being credit based, QCF qualifications are both transferable and comparable and are more relevant to employers needs and extremely flexible for learners.


 

How does the QCF work?

The qualifications in the QCF are divided into three categories, Awards, Certificates and Diplomas. Every unit in the QCF will have a credit value and one credit equals 10 hours of notional study, this shows the learner how much time is need to complete a particular course. Each unit will also have a level ranging between the entry level and level 8. The levels represent how difficult the course is.

Awards 1-12 credits 
Certificates 13 – 36 credits 
Diplomas 37 credits or more

With the QCF the learner can have an Award at level 1 or an Award at level 8. This is because the qualification types 'Award, Certificate, Diploma' represents the size of a qualification, not level of difficulty. Each QCF qualification title contains the following:

The level of the qualification - these range from entry level-to-level 8 
The size of qualification - whether it is an Award, Certificate or Diploma


 

The content of the qualification

Just by looking at the title of a particular qualification you will be able to determine how difficult it is and how long it should take the average learner to complete the overall content. Just to give you an example of the level of difficulty of the units and qualifications in the QCF it might be useful to know that GCSEs (grade A*- C) are equivalent to QCF level 2, GCE A levels are equivalent to QCF level 3 and a PhD is equivalent to QCF level 8.

The QCF will benefit learners in the following ways.

1. Offer more flexibility. Easy access to information about the commitment and time needed to achieve the necessary qualification. This will allow learners to juggle that commitment with their other responsibilities

2. Allow learners to gain credits at their own pace and combine them in a way that will help them reach their goals

3. Enables learners to transfer credits between the various qualifications. This avoids the learner having to repeat courses

4. The ability to record all their achievements on an electronic learner record database.


 

I have a NEBS qualification – where does this ‘sit’

The NEBS Introductory Certificate in Management is recognised as a Level 3 qualification, however with just 34-guided learning hours it does not have the breadth of study that would be required for a qualification such as an A Level. It is a stepping-stone to the full Level 3 Certificate in Management.

The NEBS Certificate in Management is recognised as a Level 3 qualification that required an average 240 hours of study; for promotion and advancement purposes it is considered to hold the breadth of study required for non-specific GCE A Level equivalence.

(For info NEBS has now been subsumed into the Institute of Leadership and Management).


 

I have a City & Guilds Senior Award – what does this actually mean? Is it an academic qualification?

They are Professional Recognition Awards and are competence based recognising the practical application of professional skills, knowledge, and understanding in employment.

From October 2013, City & Guilds (C&G) replaced the Senior Awards with the Professional Recognition Award – as with the Senior Award, successful applicants will be entitled to a post nominal and entrance will be available at the same four levels.

Please note: the Professional Recognition award is NQF accredited and C&G have provided “Notional” NQF Levels however they are not QCF qualifications.

Successful achievement of an award will attest to the learner’s ability to operate at the following levels and are regarded as Vocation Certificates of Competence:

Licentiateship (LCGI) comparable to Level 4 Award for Professional Recognition QCF Credit – n/a. 
Affiliateship (AfCGI) comparable to Level 5 Award for Professional Recognition QCF Credit - n/a 
Graduateship (GCGI) comparable to Level 6 Award for Professional Recognition QCF Credit – n/a 
Membership (MCGI) comparable to Level 7 Award for Professional Recognition QCF Credit – n/a.

There is a clear line of progression through from Licentiateship (LCGI), Affiliateship (AfCGI), Graduateship (GCGI) and Membership (MCGI). To achieve an Award, Learners must provide evidence that they have met the six standards, which are based around the following topics.

Commitment to Professional Standards 
Communication and Information Management 
Leadership 
Professional Development 
Working with Others 
Managing Customer Relationships


 

I have completed a leadership course and have been awarded a level 6 Diploma in Management & Leadership (62 QCF Credits). Do I have a Degree?

You have been awarded this level based on a military course you have undertaken. Degrees can only be awarded by Universities and a mandatory aspect is that 120 Level 6 CAT points are achieved. Non University awarding bodies do offer Level 6 qualifications but cannot offer degrees. Level 6 (QCF) credits can be used to gain access to an appropriate degree. This is a new qualification and currently there is little evidence within the civilian world to validate its currency but it does have a QCF - FE value which can be used to progress your study. The avenues open are to convert the qualification to a full degree or progress on to Level 7 study. In HE terms both Level 5 and Level 6 are treated the same. Should you wish to progress with your studies, it would be sensible to remain with a particular Awarding Body and progress through them. If however, you wish to achieve a full degree, it would be an idea to contact our office on 01823 215712 to discuss a sensible way ahead or contact your local colleges and Universities and ask them what you need to do to achieve a degree.


 

Through my own personal development, I have a Level 7 NVQ in Leadership & Management and realise that a lot of Companies are looking for people with a ‘first degree’, will my NVQ be acceptable and will the university allow me to go straight onto the ‘fast track degree’ without taking the Access/Bridging module course

 The above question was put to the University Course Director, his response is as follows;

 'We need to look at each application on a case by case basis as the learners may have other qualifications. In order to join stage three I would be looking for an appropriate level five award alongside the NVQ Level 7.   If the level five award is less than diploma level learners would need to complete a bridging module.

I would suggest any learner would benefit from completing the access module even those who have met the entry criteria for stage three of our BA (Hons) Leadership and Management degree yet have not experienced study in a university environment.  We can identify the benefits this access programme brings in terms of academic writing, academic language and overall learning confidence’

 For those interested in undertaking the first degree via the fast track route, please contact Mrs Christina Doyle, Business Development Director, she will be more than pleased to ‘walk you through’ the process


 

Through attending Military courses, I have achieved a level 7 qualification.  I really need a first degree if I want to go on to the Management ladder in ‘Civvie Street’ and have been told about the ‘Fast track degree’ where do I stand in getting onto the course?

All entrants with a Level 6/7 qualification must have completed study at Level 5. In terms of the BA Leadership and Management (Northumbria University), all direct entrants to the final year must demonstrate completion of a Level 5 qualification in Leadership and Management.  Please note, because of the disparity in credits between NQF and QCF L5 qualifications each application will need to be individually assessed to identify the appropriate level of Access/bridging assessments that need to be undertaken. This ensures learners have covered the principles of leadership and management as outlined in the Business and Management QAA benchmarks and has enough theoretical knowledge to succeed at level six/seven i.e. the University will look at each individual separately - they are looking for academic experience along with this level 7 certificate.  

Because this is wonderful opportunity to enter onto the final year of a BA HONS degree, the questions to ask yourself are: 

1.  Can I write a literature review
2.  Have I written a project proposal in an academic style
3.  Do I have the underpinning academic experience which will allow me to sit comfortably at this level of academia

 If in any doubt, we would strongly suggest you undertake the Access/Bridging module workshop.


I have a level 7 Certificate in Strategic Management and Leadership with 32 QCF Credits, is this a ‘stand-alone’ qualification and is this recognised by civilian employers or do I need to have further input to it to gain a solid qualification?

This is an excellent springboard to continue to the level 7 Diploma and thereafter onto a Masters Degree. There are a number of options you could take. Edexcel, CMI and ILM all offer Level 7 progression or alternatively you can approach a university to get information on what you need to do to top-up your certificate to a higher level Post-Graduate qualification.


When I'm looking at a University, with so many to choose from, what makes Northumbria University Newcastle Business School the right one for me?

WBS have elected to work with Northumbria university Newcastle Business School because of their track record working with Military personnel, They have recently been awarded Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB international) double accreditation in business and accounting making them part of an elite group of less than 1% of business schools worldwide. They are also the first Business School in Europe to get the double accreditation. This, alongside achieving excellent learner feedback in the National Student Survey (98%-100% over the past three years) and helping the School achieve top 10 status for employability ensures the programme and Newcastle Business School are highly respected and relevant. Also this is a distance course with excellent online facilities & support, therefore giving students the ability to complete with minimal impact to their lives.

In our opinion, all the above are really good reasons why you should elect to study with this University! Indeed, over 90% of military graduates have gained a first class or upper second class honours degree over the past three years, making us very proud of our students!


 

I am a Commissioned Officer interested in accessing the final year of the BA (Hons) Degree in Leadership and Management with Northumbria University whom I believe you work with, is it really necessary for me to undertake a Level 5 Diploma in Leadership and Management and the Bridging Module before being accepted onto the programme?

The University needs to evaluate that each student has achieved 120 credits at level five or has a combination of qualifications and experience equivalent to 120 credits at L5 in Leadership and Management.

This can be achieved in a number of ways:

1. 120 L5 credits in Leadership and Management from a UK HE institution.

2. A combination of qualifications gained at L5 and above which evidence 120 credits in the field of Leadership and Management.

3. A combination of a level 5 qualification plus accreditation of prior learning deemed equivalent to 120 L5 credits in Leadership and Management.

Two examples may clarify the situation:

(a) Engineers with HNDs (120 L5 credits) are required to complete a minimum of a L5 Diploma in Leadership and Management.

(b) Medics with DipHEs (120 L5 credits) are required to complete a minimum of a L5 Diploma in Leadership and Management.

All entrants on to a Level 6 qualification must have completed study at Level 5. In terms of the BA Leadership and Management (Northumbria University), all direct entrants to the final year must demonstrate completion of a Level 5 qualification in Leadership and Management.

Because of the disparity in credits between NQF and QCF L5 qualifications each application will need to be individually assessed to identify the appropriate level of bridging assessments that need to be undertaken. This ensures learners have covered the principles of leadership and management as outlined in the Business and Management QAA benchmarks and has enough theoretical knowledge to succeed at level six.


 

What are HNCs and HNDs?

HNCs (Higher National Certificates) and HNDs (Higher National Diplomas) are work-related (vocational) higher education qualifications accredited by Edexcel. They are highly valued by employers both in the UK and overseas, and can also count towards membership of professional bodies and other employer organisations.


 

What are Cert HE and Dip. HEs?

The Cert HE is a level 4 qualification accredited by a university and broadly equivalent to an HNC 
The Dip. HE is a level 5 qualification accredited by a university and broadly equivalent to an HND


 

What are CATS Points?

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS) are used by many Universities to monitor, record and reward passage through a modular degree course and to facilitate movement between courses and institutions.

A Foundation degree is broadly equivalent to 240 points (120 AT L4 and 120 at L5), a 'pass/ordinary degree' - 300 points; normally 360 points need to be accumulated (120 at L4, 120 at L5 and 120 at L6) to qualify for award of an Honours degree.

A postgraduate (Master's degree) is equivalent to 180 points at Level M.


 

What is a Foundation Degree?

The Foundation Degree is a vocational qualification in higher education, introduced in September 2001. Foundation degrees are intended to give a basic knowledge in a subject to enable the holder to go on to employment or further study in that field.

  • It sits at Level 5 in the qualifications framework. It is below the level of an honours degree (Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Laws etc.)
  • It also sits on the same level as the pre-existing Higher National Diploma (HND). However, unlike the HND it has a defined value of 240 CAT points whereas the credit point value of the HND depends on the receiving institution.

It is common for Foundation degree holders to "top-up" to a full Honours Degree award, which typically involves one further year of full-time study (longer for part-time study)


 

Understanding qualification levels

You will have heard people talking about different qualifications from GCSEs to degrees. You probably know that A Levels are a higher level of qualification than a GCSE but do you know how all these qualifications relate to each other? Where do the new diplomas fit in against Apprenticeships? Well, all qualifications fit into a national framework.

The framework has nine levels that people often use as shorthand to describe the qualifications needed for a particular job or course

E (Entry Level qualifications)

All Entry Level qualifications are called Entry Level Certificates. They focus on a particular subject or area in which they develop: Basic knowledge

Skills 
Understanding 
They build confidence and help people to prepare for further learning, work and independent living.

L1 (Level 1 qualifications)

These qualifications include:

National Vocational Qualifications at Level 1 
GCSEs achieved at grades D-G 
The Foundation Diploma 
BTEC Introductory Certificates and Diplomas 
City & Guilds Foundation Awards

They improve basic knowledge, understanding and skills in a subject, a specific work area or a broad economic sector.

They help you to use your learning in everyday situations and tasks.

They will also help to prepare you for other Level 1 qualifications and for qualifications at Levels 2 and 3.

L2 (Level 2 qualifications)

These qualifications include:

National Vocational Qualifications at Level 2 
GCSEs achieved at grades A*- C 
The Higher Diploma 
The BTEC First Diploma 
City & Guilds Intermediate Awards 
Young Apprenticeships

They build your knowledge, understanding and skills in a subject, a specific work area or a broad economic sector.

They enable you to use your learning in a wide range of tasks and also help you to prepare for other Level 2 qualifications and for qualifications at Level 3.

Most employers use this level as their minimum entry requirement.

L3 (Level 3 qualifications)

These qualifications include:

National Vocational Qualifications at Level 3 
AS and A Levels 
The Advanced and Progression Diplomas 
The International Baccalaureate 
The BTEC National Award 
City & Guilds Advanced Awards.

They develop your detailed knowledge, understanding and skills in a subject, a specific work area or a broad economic sector.

They help you to use your learning in a wide range of tasks and situations. They also help you to prepare for other Level 3 qualifications and for qualifications at Level 4.

Universities require most applicants to be qualified to this level. Employers will increasingly look for applicants who are qualified to at least this level.

Levels – 4 and 5

These qualifications include:

National Vocational Qualifications at Levels 4 and 5 
Foundation degrees

Level 6

Honours degrees 
Higher National Certificates and Diplomas 
Specialist professional qualifications (QCF L6)

Level 7

Postgraduate qualifications

They involve in-depth learning about a specific occupational role or area of study.

They help you to become specialists in your area of learning or work. They are normally divided into sub-units such as PG Cert, PG Dip and Masters Degrees for HE institutions and Award, Certificate and Diploma for vocational qualifications.

Level 8

PhD study – Research orientated.

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