What is a Level 7?
Universities traditionally offer academic courses that are primarily theoretical, and can prepare you for a future in research. By contrast, vocational training courses focus on the on practical skills required for a specific job or role.
A level 7 is either a postgraduate degree from a university or a vocational Level 7 qualification achieved at an accredited training centre.
The level system applies to courses that are taught outside of a university and allows you to see how difficult a course is. The government’s Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) recognises eight levels of qualification. These range from GCSEs (Levels 1-2) to PhDs (Level 8), as per the diagram below.
You can search for regulated qualifications on the Ofqual register here. If you are considering a Level 7 qualification in Aesthetic Medicine, always search on the Ofqual register first otherwise your course may not be compliant with HEE guidelines.
All regulated qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are in either the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) or the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ). In other words, they’re either awarded by a university (academic), or a regulated body (vocational).
A university degree is a qualification. An NVQ is also a qualification. Both are accredited. Either by a University, or a regulated Awarding Body.
The following is a subset of comparisons between RCF (vocational) and FHEQ (university) qualifications. The entire set is listed on the government website.
|Level||RQF examples||FHEQ examples|
|3||A Levels (grades A*-C, or 9-4)|
|4||- HNC- Certificate of higher education - Key Skills level 4 - NVQ level 4 - BTEC Professional award, certificate and diploma level 4||- Certificate of higher education - HNC|
|5||- HND - NVQ level 5 - Higher diploma - BTEC Professional award, certificate and diploma level 5||- Diploma of higher education - Diploma of further education - Foundation degree - HND|
|6||- NVQ level 6 - BTEC Advanced Professional award, certificate and diploma level 6||- Bachelor’s degree - Graduate certificate - Graduate diploma|
|7||- BTEC Advanced Professional award, certificate and diploma level 7 - Fellowship and fellowship diploma - Postgraduate certificate - Postgraduate diploma - NVQ level 7 - BTEC Advanced Professional award, certificate and diploma level 7||- Master’s degree (MA, MSc, MRes) - Postgraduate certificate (PGCert) - Postgraduate diploma (PGDip)|
|8||Vocational qualifications level 8 (level 8 Award, Diploma, or Certificate)||Doctorate (PhD)|
Why achieve a level 7?
The main reason is to comply with the latest guideline.s In 2015, Health Education England set the recommended training standards for a range of cosmetic procedures. The level 7 requirement applies to complex non-surgical procedures, including:
- Botulinum toxins
- Dermal fillers
- Medium depth chemical skin peels
- Deep (phenol) peels (these also require general anaesthetic)
Fully regulated qualifications need to adhere to strict requirements to ensure consistency and standards of training. The levels of learning should enable practitioners to:
- deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences
- demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level.
Your level 7 needs to be regulated
‘It is recommended that all organisations wishing to develop and provide qualifications which meet HEE’s requirements and which have not been approved or accredited by a professional regulatory body or Royal College should be regulated by OFQUAL or have their own degree awarding powers or should work in partnership with these organisations to obtain appropriate course accreditation’ (Recommendation 3: HEE, 2016, p.20)
Simply, this means that if your training is outside of a university then your qualification should be regulated by Ofqual. Why? Because that means that you can trust it to be fair, rigorous and nationally-recognised.
What’s the fastest way to get a level 7 qualification?
A university or a vocational course with an independent, regulated provider can give you a level 7 qualification. A university course typically takes 1-3 years, an independent course takes approximtely 18 months.
There are no short cuts and no quick-fixes for achieving a real level 7. If a ‘level 7’ course takes under 6 months to complete then it is probably not regulated by Ofqual, so always check the register.
What level is Foundation Training?
Foundation training has no level – it will only give you a certificate of attendance. Foundation Days are not assessed so cannot provide a recognised qualification. However, they are still the best place to start if you are not 100% sure that you want to commit to a career in aesthetics, or if you are interested in trying a training provider before investing.