Q. What is the Open College Network Northern Ireland (OCN NI)?
The Open College Network Northern Ireland (OCN NI) is one the leading Awarding Organisations based in Northern Ireland. We are regulated by CCEA (for Qualifications offered in NI) and Ofqual (for Qualifications offered in England) to develop and award professional and technical qualifications from Entry Level up to and including Level 5 across all sector areas.
Q. Why work with us?
Working with OCN NI enables your learners to:
- Register on a nationally recognised programme of learning.
- Complete qualifications at their own pace and recognise achievement every step of the way
- Accumulate credits towards nationally recognised qualifications
- Receive a certificate to confirming their qualification and the number of credits achieved.
Q. What do we provide?
- Outstanding personalised customer service and support
- Proven expertise in developing vocational qualifications and credit based learning
- Responsive and flexible qualification development service
- Diverse range of qualifications
- National accreditation, local service
- Charitable organisation with ethical and sustainable business practices
Q. How do I become an OCN NI Recognised Centre?
If you are interested in becoming an OCN NI Recognised Centre you need to complete and submit our Prospective Centre Enquiry Form which asks some standard questions regarding your organisation, current systems and any specific requirements.
When we have reviewed your request we will contact you to advise how you might proceed with your application. You will receive a Centre Recognition Application pack including details on Centre Recognition terms and requirements, fees and other useful information.
One of our Business Development Adviser (BDA) will also be on hand to guide you through the application process.
Our Adviser can also assist with:
- Exploring the range of existing Qualifications and units you will be able to access
- Explain how to access and/or develop OCN NI endorsed units if preferred
- Outline the range of training programmes and other support initiatives available
Q. Where can I do an OCN NI courses?
OCN NI courses can only be accessed through one of our recognised centres, each of which has been quality assured by us. We have recognised centres across Northern Ireland and beyond including the six further education colleges, vocational training, adult education providers, voluntary and community organisations, youth groups, schools and employers.
Q. What is the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF)?
The Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) sets out the levels against which a qualification can be recognised in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Qualifications using the QCF rules are made up of units at a given a level according to their difficulty, from entry level to level 8. The title of a qualification will tell you its size and level.
This provides flexible ways to get a qualification by:
- Allowing learners to build towards the achievement of a qualification by being awarded credits for the completion of units.
- Each unit has a credit value which tells you how many credits are awarded when a unit is completed.
- The credit value also gives an indication of how long it will normally take to prepare for a unit or qualification. One credit will usually take approximately 10 hours of learning.
- Units build up to qualifications and there are three different types of qualification in the QCF: Award (1 to 12 credits), Certificate (13 to 36 credits), Diploma (37 credits or more)
Q. What are credits?
Credits are a way of measuring and valuing your learning. A credit is based on a nominal 10 hours of learning but this does not mean that you have to spend 10 hours learning as some people can do it in less and for others, it may take more. A typical short course may offer between 1 and 5 credits where as a longer course may offer over 15 credits.
Q. What do levels mean?
The level of a unit or qualification indicates how difficult it is to achieve and your qualification certificate will show the level you have reached for each unit. The level of the learning you undertake will be similar to the level of study needed for other courses and UK.
Entry level – qualifications and units provides a basis for progression to other qualifications
Level 1 – comparable to working at NVQ level 1, GCSEs D-G, Foundation Diploma
Level 2 – comparable to working at NVQ level 2, GCSE’s A-C, Higher Diploma
Level 3 – comparable to working at NVQ level 3, A and AS level, Advanced Diploma
Level 4 – comparable to working at NVQ level 4, Certificate of Higher Education
Q. What is the difference between an OCN NI qualification and an OCN NI endorsed unit?
OCN NI national Qualifications are formally recognised by CCEA & Ofqual for inclusion on the QCF and learners who undertake units from a national qualification will receive a nationally recognised Qualification Certificate.
OCN NI endorsement enables centers to gain recognition for bespoke unit/s which are developed and tailored by you to meet your specific centre requirements. We work closely with centers to provide professional advice and guidance when creating bespoke unit/s to build the skills and knowledge required to complete your course.
OCN NI endorsement of unit/s is confirmation your course has undergone a robust quality assurance process, ensuring the training is of a high standard. Learners who undertake an OCN NI endorsed course will receive an OCN NI Endorsed Course Certificate.
Q. What is the difference between a Qualification and a Unit?
All qualifications in the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) are made up of units. When you have met all the criteria in the unit they you will have achieved the unit. A qualification is made up from a set of units. You will gain a full qualification when you have achieved all these units and complete any other requirements of the qualification.
Q. What is a qualification specification and what is it for?
The qualification specification is a complete document specifying the regulator approved requirements around a qualification. This includes guidance on quality requirements, copies of the qualification/endorsed course specification and includes the unit specifications.
It enables the centre/deliverer to understand the requirement to capture and present learner evidence of achievement based on the unit specifications, covering all of the assessment criteria of all of the learning outcomes.
Centre IVs and assessors should be familiar with the specification for each qualification they deliver.
Q. What are our Qualification Fees?
Our Qualifications are competitively priced offering value for money and fees include the combined learner registration and one certification (this includes unit certification claims) per learner, per qualification. To view our portfolio of qualifications and associated charges please refer to our online qualification finder. For our full fees & invoicing policy please login to your secure area of the website.
Q. What are our Endorsed Course Fees?
Our Qualifications and Endorsed Courses are competitively priced offering value for money and fees include the combined learner registration and one certification (this includes unit certification claims) per learner, per qualification. To view our portfolio of qualifications and associated charges please refer to our online qualification finder. For our full fees & invoicing policy please login to your secure area of the website. If you do not have a login to the secure area, please contact the OCN NI office on 028 90463 990.
Q. Do I have to pay an Annual Centre Fee?
All centres are required to pay an Annual Centre Fee. This gives you access to:
- Innovative new products in the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) regulated by Ofqual
- Expertise in design and building new qualifications for inclusion on the QCF
- A comprehensive programme of training to support delivery
- Support fromour endorsed unit writing service to produce non regulated bespoke units which are developed and tailored to meet your specific requirements.
Q. How long does it take to develop a qualification?
Developing a qualification can vary according to the time commitment that can be given by the organisation requesting it and OCN NI to work together on it. On average it takes around 90 days but a small qualification such as an Award can be turned around in a much shorter period, for example, a few days if necessary.
Q. How much does it cost to develop a qualification?
OCN NI does not charge for developing a qualification. However, the organisation requesting one must be registered as a centre and must also be able to prove that there is support for a minimum number of learners to register on it when it is approved. On becoming an approved centre, an organisation will be charged for a minimum of 30 learners on its first anniversary with OCN NI regardless of take-up.
Q. What happens on 1st April 2016 if the legislation has not been repealed?
The current regulator arrangements will remain as is until the legislation has been repealed.
Q. My Quartz Web password isn’t recognised – how do I get it reset?
Your QuartzWeb password can be reset either by contacting a member of the customer service team or by clicking the forgotten your password link via the QuartzWeb login screen.
Q. Do the changes to regulation of vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland just effect OCN NI Qualifications?
No, all awarding organisations awarding vocational qualifications in NI will now be regulated by CCEA Accreditation from 1st April 2016.
Q. Will OCN NI Qualification codes and learner registration and awards processes change?
No, centres will continue to register learners on Qualifications in the normal manner.
Q. Will OCN NI Centres still be able to deliver NOCN Qualifications?
Yes, OCN NI centres will still have access to both awarding organisations portfolio of Qualifications.
Q. Is there a new name for Vocational Qualifications?
Yes, Vocational Qualifications will in future be known as Professional and Technical Qualifications.
Q. Will OCN NI continue to be recognised by Ofqual?
Yes, because OCN NI awards qualifications in England as well as NI, we will continue to have dual recognition by both regulators.
Q. Will the Department of Employment and Learning fund Qualifications regulated by CCEA Accreditation?
Yes, the department’s funding requirements have not changed, the only difference is that Ofqual will no longer regulate Awarding Organisations in NI, CCEA Accreditation will.
Q. Does CCEA Accreditation also develop and award Qualifications?
No, CCEA Accreditation works independently of the Awarding Organisation side of CCEA and is responsible for the quality assurance of GCSEs, AS and A Levels, Other General Qualifications, Entry Level (NQF) and Vocational Qualifications (from 1st April 2016). Their work includes the recognition and monitoring of Awarding Organisations and evaluating their qualifications against published criteria and conditions.
Q. Will the OCN NI Qualifications currently in use by centres have to be resubmitted to CCEA Accreditation for approval?
No, CCEA Accreditation have confirmed with us that all existing qualifications currently regulated by Ofqual will automatically be approved by CCEA Accreditation from 1st April 2016.
Q. What difference is there between Ofqual and CCEA Regulation General Conditions of Regulation?
There are currently two different Conditions for NI. There are Condition B2.6 and Condition E5.2.
Condition B2 - The annual statement to CCEA Accreditation
- B2.6 - The statement must include a report on how the awarding organisations conducted face to face meetings with centres/teachers in Northern Ireland in the previous 12 months.
Condition E5 - Assurance that qualifications comply with the conditions
- E5.2 - Before submitting a qualification to the Register in Northern Ireland, an awarding organisation must:
- (a) on a quarterly basis, submit a list of such qualifications to CCEA Accreditation for accreditation, and;
- (b) await an approval accreditation decision before uploading to The Register the availability of the qualification in Northern Ireland.
Going forward CCEA Regulation’s General Conditions of Recognition (Jan 2016) will be updated to reflect the change in regulatory arrangements for all qualifications in NI.
Q. Will CCEA Accreditation reintroduce the QCF?
No. CCEA Accreditation supports the new Regulated Qualification Framework (RQF) which provides a system for cataloging qualifications according to their level and size and therefore has no plans to reintroduce the QCF.
Q. What impact will these changes have on qualification certificates issued by OCN NI?
All Awarding Organisations awarding qualifications in NI will have to have the CCEA Regulation logo on their certificates. CCEA have given AOs a 2 year time period to be compliant with this requirement. This will allow Awarding Organisations to use up existing stocks of certificates.