LIBF / IFS Applied Generals (reformed)

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The QIP covers all LIBF / IFS Applied General qualifications that meet the full requirements set by the Department for Education (DfE) and contribute towards performance measures from 2018.

London Institute of Banking and Finance was formerly known as IFS University College.

Countries
  • England
  • Wales
  • Northern Ireland
Purpose

The Department for Education describe Applied General qualifications as follows:

Applied General qualifications are rigorous, advanced (Level 3) qualifications that allow 16 to 19 year old students to develop transferable knowledge and skills. They are for students who want to continue their education through applied learning. Applied General qualifications allow entry to a range of higher education courses, either by meeting the entry requirements in their own right or being accepted alongside and adding value to other qualifications at Level 3 such as A levels. Higher education institutions, such as universities, have pledged support for all approved applied general qualifications listed.

The Certificate in Financial Studies (CeFS) provides a comprehensive introduction to personal finance. This qualification develops the knowledge and skills required for young people to make informed financial decisions, by introducing them to the risks and challenges involved in personal finance and the tools for effective planning. Within this, it provides a solid basis for creating financial inclusion, by exploring social-economic trends and their relationship with an individual’s circumstances and attitudes.

The Diploma in Financial Studies (DipFS) provides an in-depth exploration of the key concepts of financial capability, and how they are applied to achieve longer-term financial sustainability. This qualification builds on the skills and knowledge acquired through successful completion of the Certificate in Financial Studies, and extends this to include areas such as financial sustainability within the wider financial services system, and the long-term impact of debt. Within the DipFS the student explores the political, economic, social, technological, ethical, and legal impacts of personal finance in the short, medium and longer terms.

Both qualifications are designed to prepare students for further study through the development of the core skills of critical analysis and evaluation, synthesis, verbal communication (through classroom discussion), and written communication.

Education context

The 2018 DfE requirements are reflected in this suite of qualifications.

Financial Capability was confirmed as a component part of the national curriculum in September 2013, with a teaching requirement in all maintained secondary schools from September 2014.  In 2016, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) reviewed the progress to date and found that whilst progress had been made, there was still significant work to be completed. A number of recommendations supporting the development of provision, quality, teacher capability, and inspection developments were made with two being particularly pertinent:

  • ‘Recommendation: The Department for Education should introduce a specific ‘managing money’ strand to the programme of study for secondary level Mathematics to ensure it is taught in the context of real-life scenarios.’(APPG, 2016).
  • ‘Recommendation: Financial education should form a central component of the Department for Education’s action plan for improving PSHE provision to help strengthen young people’s ability to budget and save according to their personal circumstances.’ (APPG 2016).

The CeFS and DipFS are both designed to build upon this introduction to financial capability and create individuals who are both competent and confident in all aspects of personal finance and through this, to satisfy these recommendations.

Read the APPG report on Financial Education


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 classified as:

  • 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.
  • 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.

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. However, only qualifications that meet the full criteria count towards performance tables from 2018. 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 characteristics that must be met by Applied General qualifications as detailed in the DfE criteria are as follows:

 

Interim Requirement (for qualifications counting in 2016 performance tables)

Full Requirement (for qualifications counting in 2018 performance tables)

A. Declared Purpose

X

X

B. Size

X

X

C. Recognition

X

X

D. Synoptic Assessment

 

X

E. External Assessment

 

X

F. Grading

 

X

G. Employer involvement (Tech Level Qualifications only)

 

X

H. Progression

 

X

I. Proven Track Record

 

X

 

These changes include, but are not limited to:

  • Size: Applied General qualifications must require at least 150 guided learning hours (GLH). Tech Level qualifications must require at least 300 GLH.
  • Appropriate content: a qualification specification must state the specific content that students need to pass to achieve the qualification. Mandatory content and the associated contribution to the overall grade must make up at least:
    • 60% of an Applied General
    • 40% of a Tech Level
  • Appropriate assessment: Applied General qualifications must include at least 40% external assessment. Tech Levels must include 30% external assessment. Students will be given one opportunity to resit.
  • Synoptic assessment.
  • Grading: all vocational qualifications must be graded using three grading points or more, such as Distinction/Merit/Pass.

Further information about Applied General qualifications, and the range of qualifications that meet these requirements, can be found on the DfE website.

Read more information on the DfE website


Regulation of Applied General and Tech Level qualifications

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

The regulatory approach undertaken for Applied General and Tech Level qualifications differs to A levels. This is because there are no specific qualification-level criteria for Applied Generals, 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 Applied General category, qualifications have to demonstrate particular features, as outlined in the table above.

Applied General qualifications must comply with Ofqual’s general rules, as is the case with all regulated qualifications.

Awarding organisations
  • IFS
  • London Institute of Banking and Finance
Qualification codes
600/8537/X (Certificate in Financial Studies)
600/8551/4 (Diploma in Financial Studies)
Structure

Certificate in Financial Studies: this comprises two mandatory units. All units must be successfully completed in order for the student to achieve the certificate.

Diploma in Financial Studies: this comprises four mandatory units. All units must be successfully completed in order for the student to achieve the diploma.

Subject areas

Certificate in Financial Studies:

  • Financial Capability for the Immediate and Short Term (Unit 1)
  • Financial Capability for the Medium and Long Term (Unit 2)

Diploma in Financial Studies:

  • Financial Capability for the Immediate and Short Term (Unit 1);
  • Financial Capability for the Medium and Long Term (Unit 2);
  • Sustainability of an Individual’s Finances (Unit 3);
  • Sustainability of the Financial Services System (Unit 4)
Levels
  • Level 3

Level 3 qualifications are regulated to the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF).

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

Grading

Both the Certificate and the Diploma are graded A* – E.

Assessment

As noted in Education Context, to be classified as an Applied General qualification, the qualification in question must meet certain criteria. This includes:

  • A minimum of 40% external assessment
  • A minimum of 60% mandatory core content
  • An element of synoptic assessment
  • There is a single resit opportunity

Each unit of both qualifications is assessed through a combination of multiple choice questions (Part A) and a written paper (Part B).

The pass mark for Part A is 40% of the raw marks. The pass mark for Part B is set each session to reflect any small variations in question paper difficulty.

To pass a unit, the student must achieve the minimum pass mark for both Part A and Part B. The written paper for each unit synoptically assesses the students’ ability to integrate the skills, concepts and knowledge from the unit.

Unit 4 builds upon Unit 3 (DipFS), both of which build upon Unit 1 and Unit 2 (CeFS).

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

The Certificate in Financial Studies comprises two units (Unit 1 and Unit 2). Each unit carries an equal weighting of 50% of the raw marks available.

Students moving on to the Diploma in Financial Studies take a further two units (Unit 3 and Unit 4). Each unit carries an equal weighting of 50% of the raw marks available. Both units are assessed through a multiple-choice paper worth 35 marks, and a written paper worth 65 marks, giving a maximum mark for each unit of 100 marks.

    Unit codes Unit 1 (FCIS) and Unit 2 (FCML) Unit 3 (SIF) and Unit 4 (SFS)  
    Weighting as % of total DipFS assessment Each unit carries a weighting of 23.75% Each unit carries a weighting of 26.25%  
      UMS Unit 1 UMS Unit 2] UMS Unit 3 UMS Unit 4 DipFS award
    Maximum mark 190 190 210 210 800
    (Cap) 190 190 210 210 800
    A* 171 171 189 189 720
    A 152 152 168 168 640
    B 133 133 147 147 560
    C 114 114 126 126 480
    D 95 95 105 105 400
    E 76 76 84 84 320
    F 52 52 63 63  
    Resit arrangements

    Reformed Applied General qualifications are only allowed one resit opportunity per unit. The resit must be a new task or assignment, different to the original assessment.

    For both qualifications, students are allowed one resit attempt for each component of the unit.

    The result that gives the student the highest mark in terms of UMS is used.

    Guided/notional learning hours
    Certificate in Financial Studies : 187 hours
    Diploma in Financial Studies: 374 hours
    UCAS Tariff points

    IFS Certificate in Financial Studies

    Grade Points
    A* 28
    A 24
    B 20
    C 16
    D 12
    E 8

    IFS Diploma in Financial Studies

    Grade Points
    A* 56
    A 48
    B 40
    C 32
    D 24
    E 16

    LIBF Certificate in Financial Studies

    Grade Points
    A* 28
    A 24
    B 20
    C 16
    D 12
    E 8

    LIBF Diploma in Financial Studies

    Grade Points
    A* 56
    A 48
    B 40
    C 32
    D 24
    E 16
    Key issues for UK HE admissions

    Applied General qualifications are advanced (Level 3) qualifications, mainly taken by 16-19 year old students who want to develop transferable knowledge and skills.

    The popularity of Applied Generals has risen over recent years. The entry rate for applicants holding at least one BTEC (either alone or in combination with A levels) was 6.0 per cent in 2016, up from 5.8 per cent in 2015.

    There are a number of key considerations for HEPs when reviewing Applied General qualifications that meet the full DfE criteria from 2018:

    • These qualifications are fundamentally different to their predecessors and likely to result in learners developing different skills and aptitudes. HEPs should review their understanding of these qualifications to ensure it remains up to date.
    • 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.
    • The fully-reformed qualifications include both external and synoptic assessment, as well as changes to resit processes. These changes are likely to result in fewer learners passing the qualification. Equally, it is likely that grade distributions will change. In light of this, HEPs may wish to review their entry requirements, offer making and decision-making strategies in relation to these qualifications.
    • The fully-reformed and interim-reformed 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.
    • A larger mandatory core means that HEPs who require certain levels of achievement in particular units or ask for specific units to satisfy subject knowledge requirements should familiarise themselves with the new content specifications to ensure that these requirements are still valid. It should be noted that not all learners will be able choose their optional units and these may be prescribed by the school or college, therefore HEPs should be cautious if requiring achievement in optional modules as part of their entry requirements, offer making and decision-making strategies.
    Timing of assessments/results for learners

    For both qualifications, examinations are taken during January, March, May and June.

    Provisional results are released at the end of each exam period and final results are released after approval by the Assessment Board at the end of July.

    Qualification dates notes

    The Certificate and Diploma in Financial Studies qualifications are current.

    Reporting and certification information

    The results of the LIBF / IFS Certificate and Diploma in Financial Studies are reported to UCAS through Awarding Body Linkage (ABL).

    Read the full list of results available through ABL

    Progression information

    Applied General qualifications differ in size; some may meet the entry requirements for higher education in their own right and some may need to be offered in conjunction with other Level 3 qualifications (e.g. 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.


    Certificate in Financial Studies (CeFS): for students who wish to develop a wider understanding of the socio-economic impacts of personal finance, the skills, and knowledge developed in CeFS can be extended by taking two further units to complete the DipFS. The financial content provides a foundation for continued study within the finance sector, and a wide range of other business-related disciplines. CeFS carries the maximum points available for a qualification of its type and size as described on our website.

    Diploma in Financial Studies (DipFS): financial capability underpins clear decisions about progression options, including life as an undergraduate, and DipFS provides an excellent platform for progression through further or higher education. The financial content of this qualification provides a solid foundation for continued study within business and finance-related disciplines. However, the core skills of critical analysis and evaluation, synthesis and written communication, and independent learning are transferable and provide a strong grounding for further study in other fields. 

    Letters of support detailing the qualification’s formal acceptance by universities, and employer letters of support are available on the IFS website. 

    As a larger qualification than the CeFS, it carries more UCAS Tariff points and the maximum points available for a qualification of its type and size as described on the IFS website.

    Read more about the Tariff points on the IFS website