In order to have a qualification recognised in the UK and be able to transfer credits between learning courses, educational institutions and occupations, the qualification must be accredited through one of qualification awarding bodies in the UK. These are regulated by the regulators – the Ofqual in England, DCELLS in Wales, CCEA in Northern Ireland and SQA (Scottish Qualifications Authority) in Scotland.
More than 160 institutions in the UK have the power to award qualifications. In addition to institutions with degree awarding powers, there are also hundreds of colleges and other institutions which are not approved by the UK regulators, however, they provide courses which enable their learners to gain recognised degrees. These institutions are regulated by those who have the power to award degrees and even help with getting teaching jobs abroad and in the UK.
Since the mid-2012, higher education qualifications (university degrees) can be awarded only by institutions who have a minimum of 1,000 full-time higher education students of which a minimum of 750 are degree seeking students, while at least 55% of all students attend higher education programmes. Higher education students who are enrolled in institutions that do not have degree awarding powers may still gain a recognised degree if the institution they are studying at is a listed body. In contrary to recognised bodies who have the power to award degrees, the so-called listed bodies may provide courses that lead to a recognised degree.