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What Does FHEQ Level 4 Mean? The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK

Students invest a lot of time in their schooling developing the skills and credentials that will benefit them in life. It’s a voyage that could appear to go on forever. 

Even after getting a job, you would still need to complete training and other courses to develop the skills you would need to be successful at work. 

Particularly for college or sixth form students, there are numerous certificates and degrees available. The next course of action is surrounded by so many uncertainties. 

Academically, the majority of students have the option of attending college or pursuing a Level 4 qualification.

Continue reading to learn more about the FHEQ Level 4.

What is a Level 4 Qualification?

Since a Level 4 certificate pertains to Higher Education (HE), it is often pursued once you are 18 and beyond. After completing your A levels, you can continue your study in higher education, which you could consider a stopgap before entering university if you opt to start later. 

You can pursue these kinds of credentials at a university (a degree-awarding body) or a specialized institution (non-degree-awarding), which offers career-oriented courses that would help you land a job. 

A Level 4 qualification would be something like a higher apprenticeship, which combines full-time employment with some study time. If you’re not sure about attending college but know the career path you want to take, this would be a fantastic choice.

Higher apprenticeships typically last a year, but because they are so flexible, they sometimes continue longer. Everything depends on how quickly you want to move. 

You would need to finish training for a higher apprenticeship, and the evaluation would involve some real-world work duties. You would eventually be awarded a Higher National Diploma or a Level 4 NVQ (National Vocational Qualification). 

See also: How to Become a Student Writer in a Short Time

What is a Bachelor’s Degree?

The typical duration of a bachelor’s degree at a university is three years, or four years if you choose to do a placement year. 

It usually occurs after additional education, and because it is completed after the age of 18, it is regarded as a higher education qualification. Most students who pursue undergraduate degrees do so full-time and refer to them as first- or honors-level degrees.  

Before applying for a bachelor’s degree, you must have A levels, BTECs, or another Level 3 certification that is equivalent. 

The most popular degrees, which span a variety of degrees, are the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Science. Every degree program has its own professor, school, or department. 

For instance, the School of Law, which is part of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, is responsible for degrees in law.  

Over the course of 3 or 4 years, you will have a highly thorough understanding of each subject and develop a variety of skills and approaches. 

Some topics, like law or medicine, are training for a specific vocation, while others, like creative writing or history, can equip you with abilities for a variety of jobs.

What Different Qualifications Are Available?

In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, there are a total of nine qualifications available, ranging from entry-level to level eight.  

All qualifications are at the same degree of difficulty, and as each qualification’s level rises, so does its difficulty. Additionally, each qualification’s age requirement rises as well. 

The qualifications that are included at each level are displayed in the table below. The table shows that it is mandatory for all secondary school pupils to earn Level 1 and Level 2 credentials. 

This is so because most pupils would be 16 years old once their GCSEs were finished because England has a 16-year-old school graduation age.   

Further education is defined as education that is received beyond the age of 16, is comparable to a Level 3 qualification, such as a BTEC or A level, and takes place after secondary school.  

Students must enroll in a sixth form or college to continue their education full-time, begin an apprenticeship or traineeship program, or start working while enrolled in a part-time program of study or training.  

What is FHEQ level 4?

The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications, or FHEQ, is offered by organizations that grant degrees, such as universities. 

The first year of a bachelor’s degree is commonly referred to as the first year, year one, or level four by most lecturers. Therefore, the second and third years would be referred to as levels 5 and 6, respectively. Here, a correlation between the educational levels and the number of years required for a university degree may be shown.  

WE can say that FHEQ Level 4 means the first year of a bachelor’s degree.

You will essentially acquire the FHEQ level 4 qualification at the conclusion of your first year of a bachelor’s degree. In order to complete a semester of university and graduate with honors, you must earn 120 credits by the conclusion of the semester.

A Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE), which is effectively a higher education certification at the most fundamental level and typically takes a year to complete, is what you obtain upon completion of a Level 4 qualification.  

A Level 4 certificate would typically require 120 credits to complete, which is the same amount of credits needed to pass each academic year at a university. 

Given that Level 6 is the year you actually graduate and obtain your degree, this might imply that the first three years of college can be viewed as Levels 4, 5, and 6.

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How Do You Apply for a Level 4 Qualification or a Bachelor’s Degree?

All students in the UK utilize UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Services), as the name suggests, to apply to higher education. It gives career advice and direction and can be used to apply for apprenticeships and internships.  

UCAS may be thought of as a middleman between you and your institution since it is where you would choose your top five choices and where you would go to find out if you had been admitted on A level results day.

You can look for a Level 4 qualification or any other qualification on the National Careers Service website. It can also be used to apply for employment, assess your skills to see what career path you might be suited for, and get help with the application process, such as advice on how to write a CV or interview techniques. 

The Open University offers tens of thousands of distance learning courses, including undergraduate degrees that can be earned from virtually any location in the world.

What are the FHEQ Level 4/Level 5 Descriptors?

FHEQ Level 4 Descriptors

The descriptors for FHEQ level 4 qualifications are below.

Candidates should be able to demonstrate:

  • understanding of the fundamental ideas and ideas related to their field(s) of study, as well as the capacity to assess and interpret these ideas in the context of their field(s).
  • an aptitude for presenting, evaluating, and interpreting qualitative and quantitative evidence in order to form coherent arguments and reach decisions in keeping with fundamental theories and concepts of their field of study

Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:

  • analyze the suitability of various methods for resolving issues in their field(s) of study or employment
  • Carry out additional training and acquire new abilities in an organized and managed environment. Accurately and reliably report the outcomes of their studies or work.

On the website of The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), more information is available regarding The framework for higher education degrees in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

FHEQ Level 5 Descriptors

The descriptors for FHEQ level 5 qualifications are below.

Candidates should be able to demonstrate:

  • knowledge and critical understanding of the established principles in their field(s) of study, as well as the historical development of those ideas
  • the capacity to apply fundamental ideas and principles outside of the setting in which they were initially studied, including, where appropriate, applying those ideas and principles in a work environment.
  • The ability to critically assess the appropriateness of various approaches to solving problems in the field of study, knowledge of the main methods of inquiry in the subject(s) relevant to the named award.
  • knowledge of the boundaries of their knowledge, and how this affects analyses and interpretations based on that knowledge.

Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:

  • employ a variety of proven strategies to start and carry out critical analysis of material, and to suggest fixes for issues that analysis raises.
  • successfully use important strategies from the discipline to disseminate information, ideas, and analyses to both specialized and non-specialized audiences.
  • They will pursue additional training, hone their current abilities, and pick up new talents that will enable them to take on considerable responsibility within their organization.

Further information can be found on The framework for higher education qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on the The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) website.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Who are the Level 4 Certificate Awarding Bodies?

A recognized educational institution, like a university or for-profit training facility, grants all recognized qualifications. For instance, QUALIFI grants the Level 4 Health and Social Care Diploma that is taught by the Online Business School. With their logo and contact information, Qaulifi will provide the final qualifying. You can see that the award is listed under Qualifi in the RQF.

What in the UK is level 4?

The first year of a university degree is equivalent to a level 4 course, so you can earn a higher education qualification without committing to a full 3-year program.

With a Level 4 qualification, what can I do?

You can apply for our Amended Senior Certificate program after passing ABET Level 4. A Matric Certificate is the equivalent of this program. You can apply for entry-level jobs and take advantage of the variety of education opportunities accessible to you with a Matric certificate to launch a prosperous career.

What grade is higher education in the UK?

Grades 4–8
Levels 4 through 8 are referred to as higher education in England by the Office for Students’ (OfS) sector-recognized criteria. Levels 4 through 8 are in line with the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, according to Qualifications Wales.

How long does a level 4 last?

Level 4 of the Higher National Certificate (HNC)
A HNC is typically equivalent to the first year of college and can be completed in one year if studied full-time or two years if studied part-time. To advance to a Higher National Diploma (HND), it may be used.

See also: What Are Level 4 Qualifications Equivalent in Grades in the UK?


In short, A Level 4 qualification isn’t equivalent to a bachelor’s degree, but a Level 6 qualification is equivalent to a bachelor’s degree (that takes 3 or 4 years to complete).

A Level 4 qualification could be seen as the completion of the first year of a bachelor’s degree which is referred to as FHEQ Level 4.



Ezike Esther Chiagoziem is a content developer at Silicon Africa Technologies, who through her content has impacted a lot of lives. She is a financial expert who has in-depth knowledge in reviewing financial products like loans, brokerages, mortgages, and a lot more. As a certified Content Developer, she is ever ready to give you answers to any financial, educational, and job questions.

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