Central Qualifications (CQ) Veterinary Nursing (Tech levels 2016 and 2017)

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  • England
  • Wales
  • Northern Ireland

These qualifications are listed on the DfE 16 – 19 performance tables in the Tech level category.

Tech level qualifications are primarily developed for learners aged 16 – 19 studying on either a full or part-time basis.

Tech levels are aimed at learners with a keen interest in a particular industry, occupation or occupational type.

Along with developing transferable skills required to work within a number of job roles, these qualifications are designed to equip learners with the high level specialist technical knowledge and skills to enable them to work within a specific industry.

They can help provide entry into employment within a particular sector, onto an apprenticeship or into higher education in a related vocational area.

Diplomas in Veterinary Nursing aim to prepare and support students for a career in veterinary nursing.

Tech level qualifications are recognised by trade and professional organisations or at least five employers.

The key purposes of these Tech level qualifications are:

  • to give students the ability to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to practise veterinary nursing safely and competently.
  • to allow students to grow as individuals and give them the chance to learn life skills essential for professional development.
Education context

Following the Wolf review of vocational qualifications in England in 2011, the Department for Education announced a number of characteristics that Level 3 Tech level qualifications have to demonstrate in order to feature in performance tables for 2016.

As a result, over 90% of the Level 3 qualifications previously recognised in performance tables will not be recognised in 2016 and beyond

The new characteristics for Tech levels included in 2016 performance measures define purpose, size and recognition.

Qualifications to be included in the performance tables from 2018 will have to meet further requirements in respect of content, assessment, and grading.

Qualifications can be included in the 2017 performance measures according to the 2016 (interim) or 2018 (full) requirements.

The additional 2018 requirements are not reflected in these qualifications.

CQ is an awarding body which meets the needs of veterinary and other animal-related establishments.

These qualifications provide a veterinary nursing licence to practise.

Upon achievement of the Diplomas in Veterinary Nursing the learner will be eligible to apply to be registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons as a veterinary nurse.

Awarding organisation
  • CQ
Qualification codes
600/5823/7 (Diploma in Veterinary Nursing – Equine)
600/3711/8 (Diploma in Veterinary Nursing – Small animal)

The qualifications include a balance of practice-based learning and theoretical teaching, and use a variety of strategies to ensure students can undertake clinical tasks proficiently.

Clinical placements in veterinary training practices will allow the acquisition of nursing skills and will enable students to become competent and confident in a veterinary environment.

The qualifications are unitised and credit-based; all units are mandatory.

Subject areas

Veterinary nursing – Equine

Veterinary nursing – Small animal

  • Level 3

UK Level 3 qualifications regulated to the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF)[1]

A levels are Level 3 qualifications regulated to the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF[2])

Level 3 is equivalent to Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework  Level 6

[1] The QCF was a credit-based transfer system which recognised qualifications and units by awarding credits. It has now been withdrawn for all new qualifications.

[2] The RQF is the new system for cataloguing all qualifications regulated by Ofqual, indexing them by level and size.



Pass, Merit, Distinction


Assessment is by a mixture of:

  • assignments
  • examinations
  • Central Skills Log (CSL) – online recording of practical skills
  • Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) – practical examination

Theory and knowledge are tested through assignments and examinations.

  • Assignments are set by CQ and marked by the training provider.
  • Examinations are set and marked by CQ.

Practical elements of the qualification are assessed through CSL and in the final OSCE – a practical exam designed to test clinical skill performance and competencies.

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade


  • First time pass of 80% and above in all units of each theory examination
  • First time pass of 12/12 in OSCE
  • Pass in all assignments
  • Completion of the Central Skills Log (CSL)


  • First time pass in all units of each theory examination
  • First time pass of 8/12 in Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE)
  • Pass in all assignments
  • Completion of CSL


  • Pass in each theory examination
  • Pass in OSCE
  • Pass in all assignments
  • Completion of CSL
Resit arrangements

Any student who fails a theory examination paper will be required to resit the failed unit or the entire paper, providing they meet the following criteria.

The criteria for CQ allowing a unit resit are:

  • the student has only failed one unit within an exam paper
  • the student has achieved a minimum overall mark in the exam paper
  • the student would be allowed one attempt at a unit resit
  • the single unit resit will require a minimum pass mark

If a student is registered for an examination but does not attend for the exam and is recorded as absent then this would count as an attempt.

A student is allowed four attempts of the synoptic theory examination paper.

Students are entitled to a maximum of four attempts to resit any failed assessments. Students who fail on three occasions will be required to carry out a programme of study, considered acceptable by Central Qualifications, of no less than four months under the appropriate supervision of their approved centre before undertaking the assessment for a final attempt.

Guided/notional learning hours
The Diploma programmes require a minimum duration of 22 weeks (715 guided learning hours): 715 hours
Guided/notional learning hours notes

Additionally, students are expected to carry out a minimum of 1,185 hours of independent study, which must include supervised work experience undertaken in a clinical veterinary practice.

UCAS grade bands

Not yet available.

UCAS Tariff points

CQ Level 3 Diploma In Veterinary Nursing - Equine (QCF)

Grade Points
D 72
M 48
P 24

CQ Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (QCF)

Grade Points
D 72
M 48
P 24
Key issues for UK HE admissions

Tech levels are designed to support progression to employment, an apprenticeship or to higher education.

Tech levels for the 2016 and 2017 performance measures are interim qualifications available for only a small window of time

The first cohorts for the CQ Diplomas in Veterinary Nursing completed in 2013; the majority of people holding these qualifications will have completed their Level 3 qualifications by 2017.

Progression to higher education is generally within the vocational area of the Tech level and may be to a foundation degree.

Applicants with Tech levels for the 2016 and 2017 performance measures may have limited experience of external or examination assessment.

Timing of assessments/results for learners

Theory examinations are taken in March, June and November – examination results are issued six weeks later.

Assignments are undertaken at the centre or training provider.

Central Skills Log is undertaken throughout the delivery of the qualification.

OSCE (practical examination) is taken ‘on demand’ and results issued six weeks later.

Qualification dates notes

These will become legacy qualifications in 2017.

Reporting and certification information

Certification is available upon request from the centre training provider (upon completion and achievement of all assessment criteria).

Progression information

These Diplomas allow learners to progress onto further qualifications, including the RCVS Advanced Diploma in Veterinary Nursing.

Further information