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Awards ladder reaches Highlands and Islands

ANOTHER STEP towards the "holy grail" of Scottish education comes with the appointment of an officer to promote Scottish Qualifications Authority awards within the University of the Highlands and Islands.

The SQA last week described the new Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework as the "holy grail", and Stewart Duncan, the UHISQA joint officer, will help guide students through the various levels of award.

Mr Duncan, assistant principal for curriculum and quality at Perth College, where he will continue to be based, has been responsible for developing SQA work at the college.

John French, head of academic development at UHI, said the university project was committed to "seamless progression through the awards framework, which is why our students are able to qualify at HNC or HND levels en route to degree level qualifications. They can even continue seamlessly into postgraduate study."

Ron Tuck, the SQA's chief executive, said: "It is exciting to see this appointment so soon after the signing of an agreement in February. UHI's commitment to SQA awards as an integral part of its approach to flexible and responsive learning fits well with the Government's policy of encouraging lifelong learning by offering the opportunity to pick up respected, and employer-recognised, qualifications."

The Credit and Qualifications Framework, which matches courses and awards in different institutions and ways of progressing from one level to the next, is an extension of credit transfer arrangements in which Scotland has been a pioneer.

The framework, bringing together school, work-based, further and higher education qualifications, was endorsed by Helen Liddell, the former education minister, at a conference in January and is expected to be fully in place next year.

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