A new beacon for lifelong learning;Leading article

15th January 1999 at 00:00
THE NOMENCLATURE of qualifications can be baffling, as The Sweeney points out in his column (page 21). Lifelong learning will remain an unattainable national goal unless people learn first to understand what, for example, a Scottish Vocational Qualification is and where it fits into the array of others with apparently arcane names. The Government needs more light to be shed if its twin aspirations of social inclusion and lifelong learning are to be met. The chosen beacon is the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework, which is now emerging from the shade (page four).

Most people would be startled, but gratified, to learn that universities will soon begin describing not just the content of courses but where they stand in relation to others, the previous qualifications needed to embark on them and where success in them might lead. For six years we have had formal credit and transfer arrangements in Scotland, but these are to be subsumed within a much more ambitious project, variously described as leading the United Kingdom or the world.

If the SCQF is to succeed, it will be through an unparalleled partnership of higher and further education, schools and work-based learning. It will spell out where Advanced Highers can slot a student into a university course. It should make links between higher national qualifications and degrees easier. The challenge will be to lay out a clear map without befuddling learners with reams of descriptors and credit criteria.

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