Central Qualifications (CQ) Veterinary Nursing Tech levels (interim-reformed)

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The QIP covers all Central Qualifications Veterinary Nursing Tech level (interim-reformed) qualifications that do not meet the full requirements set by the Department for Education (DfE) and do not contribute towards performance measures for 2018.

These qualifications meet the interim-reformed requirements for 2016 and 2017 performance tables.

  • England
  • Northern Ireland
  • Wales

The Department for Education (DfE) describe Tech level qualifications as follows:

Tech levels are rigorous advanced (level 3) technical qualifications on a par with A Levels and recognised by employers. They are for students aged 16 plus who want to specialise in a specific industry or prepare for a particular job. They cover jobs and careers where employers recruit people at this level or where a level 3 qualification is needed before students can progress to a related higher education course. Tech levels give students an opportunity to develop specialist knowledge and skills to help them get an apprenticeship or job, for example in engineering, IT, accounting or professional cookery, or progress to a higher level qualification. In some cases, a tech level qualification is a ‘licence to practise’ or can exempt someone holding the qualification from a professional exam. Tech levels are recognised by trade or professional bodies or at least five employers. Alternatively, the qualification may be accepted by a national licensed professional registration scheme.

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

Education context

Some vocational qualifications offered at Level 3 have been reformed as a result of changes to school performance tables. Vocational qualifications must meet the criteria set by the Department for Education (DfE) in order to count towards school performance tables. These reforms mean that 91% of the Level 3 qualifications that previously counted towards school performance tables were removed from performance tables in 2016.

For accountability purposes, vocational qualifications are now be classified as:

  • Tech level qualifications: The purpose of these qualifications is to lead to a ‘recognised occupation’. Examples provided by the DfE include engineering, accounting, construction, manufacturing, agriculture and IT. These qualifications must meet a number of criteria, including the endorsement of five employers registered at Companies House.
  • Applied General qualifications: The purpose of these qualifications is to provide a broader vocational education. They ‘are designed for students wanting to continue their education through applied learning.’ These qualifications must meet a number of criteria, including endorsement by at least three universities and colleges.

The reform to vocational qualifications is being conducted in two stages: an interim stage and full stage. Each of these stages introduced new criteria for vocational qualifications to meet in order to count towards school performance tables.

The first teaching of the qualifications reformed on an interim basis was from 2014 and these counted towards school performance tables in 2016. Only qualifications that meet the full criteria count towards performance tables from 2018. The qualifications listed in this QIP are classified as Tech level qualifications however do not meet the full criteria to count towards performance tables from 2018 in respect of content, assessment and grading. Schools and colleges may offer qualifications that are not included in the performance tables, if the qualifications are approved for teaching by the Secretary of State under Section 96.

Read Section 96.

The 2016 CQ Tech levels meet the interim requirements set by the DfE and therefore may be offered in schools and colleges alongside 2018 fully reformed Tech levels:


Interim Requirement (for qualifications counting in 2016 performance tables)

Full Requirement (for qualifications counting in 2018 performance tables)

A. Declared Purpose



B. Size



C. Recognition



D. Synoptic Assessment



E. External Assessment



F. Grading



G. Employer involvement (Technical Level Qualifications only)



H. Progression



I. Proven Track Record



As noted in the table above, the 2016 and 2018 versions of Tech level qualifications are fundamentally different.

For more information on the specific changes to 2018 Tech levels, please refer to a reformed QIP. Please also see ‘Key issues for UK HE admissions’ for some additional considerations when assessing these qualifications.

Further information about Tech level qualifications, and the range of qualifications that meet the 2018 requirements, can be found on the DfE website.

Regulation of Tech level and Applied General qualifications

The regulation of Tech level and Applied General qualifications delivered in England is the responsibility of Ofqual.

The regulatory approach undertaken for Tech level and Applied General qualifications differs to A levels. This is because there are no specific qualification-level criteria for Tech levels, as there are for GCSEs, AS and A levels currently.  Applied Generals is a category introduced by the Department for Education for accountability purposes rather than a specific type of regulated qualification.  To be included in the Tech level category, qualifications have to demonstrate particular features outlined in the table above.

Tech levels must comply with Ofqual’s general rules, as is the case with all regulated qualification.

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

This is a Level 3 qualification regulated to the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF).¹

Level 3 is broadly aligned to the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Level 6 / 7.

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 and has been replaced by the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF). 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.

For detailed assessment information, please view the qualification specification on the CQ website.

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
715 hours
Guided/notional learning hours notes

The Diploma programmes require a minimum duration of 22 weeks (715 guided learning hours). 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 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 level qualifications are advanced (Level 3) qualifications, mainly taken by 16-19 year old students who want to specialise in a specific industry, occupation, or occupational group. They equip students with specialist knowledge and skills.

There are a number of key considerations for HEPs when reviewing Tech level qualifications that do not meet the full DfE criteria from 2018:

  • Applicants holding unreformed Tech level qualifications may not have had experience of external or synoptic assessment.
  • The reformed and unreformed qualifications will be delivered by schools and colleges at the same time (see ‘Education context’). Therefore, HEPs may wish to consider their approach to setting and listing entry requirements for the specific qualifications.
  • The dual running of the qualification may result in applicants declaring the incorrect version within their application. UCAS will be working to support applicants and advisers in this area.
  • These qualifications are fundamentally different to the reformed versions and likely to result in students developing different skills and aptitudes. HEPs should review their understanding of these qualifications to ensure it remains up to date. HEPs may also wish to consider their approach to setting and listing entry requirements for the specific qualifications, and any differences should be clearly articulated.

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

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

The exact curriculum studied may depend on the choice of optional units taken.

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

The results of CQ Tech level qualifications are not reported to UCAS through Awarding Body Linkage (ABL). This does not reflect the validity of the qualification. HE providers will need to ask applicants to provide their own evidence of achievement.

View the results available through ABL.

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

Progression information

Tech level qualifications differ in size; some may meet the entry requirements for higher education in their own right in a related area and some may need to be offered in conjunction with other Level 3 qualifications, for instance A levels. In addition, some higher education courses may require specific levels of achievement in particular units or ask for additional qualifications to satisfy subject knowledge requirements.

These qualifications offer progression to higher education, an apprenticeship, or employment. These Diplomas allow students to progress onto further qualifications, including the RCVS Advanced Diploma in Veterinary Nursing.

Progression to HE will probably be in the vocational area of the qualification, and may be to a foundation degree or a Higher National qualification (HNC/HND).

Tech Level qualifications are supported by at least five employers from the job sector the qualification is related to. All students have to take part in meaningful activity involving employers in the course of their study. Examples are work placements, taking part in projects, or some of the course being taught by someone who works in the industry.