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Accountants cry foul over cost of framework switch-over

The accountancy profession's biggest vocational education body has attacked the Government's qualifications framework for failing the cost- benefit test.

Jane Scott Paul, chief executive of the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), said it had cost the body pound;900,000 to transfer its qualifications to the new Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF), but little benefit had been derived.

As a result, the chartered accountancy qualifications, the profession's highest awards, are not set to be incorporated into the QCF, with the profession judging that splitting a respected qualification into units was not worth the expense.

Ms Scott Paul said: "It cost us pound;900,000 over two or three years to meet the requirements of the framework. That was money spent and no return for our members. I think it's quite simply a waste of money; it's wholesale change for change's sake."

The QCF was drawn up to divide qualifications into small units that would allow students to receive credit for completing part of a course, or to transfer easily between qualifications or institutions.

But Ms Scott Paul questioned whether it was worth the disruption and expense of transferring qualifications to the new framework.

"How much demand is there for transferability?" she said. "We have had unit-based qualifications since NVQs were introduced and we encouraged people to request unit certificates when they completed them, but there have only ever been a handful of people who took advantage of it."

Ms Scott Paul said that the AAT was forced to transfer its qualifications to the new framework, despite its opposition, because it could not afford to lose the opportunity for Government funding.

The AAT accredits about 30,000 qualifications a year, mostly part-funded by employers and taught in colleges. There are also about 3,000 apprentices studying for AAT qualifications funded by the taxpayer.

It is not the first time the QCF has received criticism from industries with well-established training regimes and a high level of employer investment.

ConstructionSkills, the sector skills council for the construction industry, fought a long battle to preserve the identity of NVQs within the framework instead of replacing them with generic awards, certificates and diplomas, because the NVQ title had become recognised as an industry standard.

With the support of sector skills councils for industries ranging from manufacturing to transport, ConstructionSkills persuaded Ofqual to allow the qualifications to be called "NVQ diplomas" in the new framework.

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