The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework: what’s academic practice got to do with it?

Scott Fernie, Nick Pilcher, Karen Smith

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    National Qualifications Frameworks (NQF) are a globally established and expanding phenomenon. They are increasingly merging and being mapped onto meta-qualifications frameworks. One key NQF in both these roles is the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). Much research categorises the different types of NQF, details their success and failure, and there is a steadily expanding body of critical research into NQF. Despite this, little research has focused on how NQF are used in day to day academic practice in the very institutions whose qualifications they frame. This article begins to redress this by focusing on the SCQF as an exemplar. It presents a synthesis between contemporary literature, a documentary analysis of SCQF literature and the data from interviews with 15 stakeholders in different educational roles. The findings show that, despite the claims of the SCQF literature and contemporary literature regarding the success of the SCQF, its diffusion and the extent of its use amongst these stakeholders are limited. Instead, it is used more as a symbolic tick box exercise and largely ignored. We discuss the implications of this and posit questions that challenge the focus of existing research into NQF and argue for a shift in the criteria by which they are judged from educational to market based ones
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)233-248
    JournalEuropean Journal of Education
    Issue number2
    Early online date6 Nov 2013
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014


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