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On The Level: What does Level 7 in Aesthetic Medicine mean?

As featured in The Aesthetic Medicine Journal (Volume 4/Issue 12 - November 2017).  

It is often the case that impending regulation or indeed self-regulation can lead to well-intentioned people making decisions that they later regret. The absence of information from those charged with developing the regulatory/self-regulatory scheme as they finalise arrangement, can create a void in which the ill-informed or less well intentioned can flourish. Thus is the case with level 7 qualifications for injectables.

On the demand side, the desire to be JCCP ready has inevitably led to people spending considerable sums to achieve a level 7 qualification. On the supply side, we have seen the emergence of those that are willing to take money for fake qualifications, and courses that will not be JCCP compliant. The sums that have been spent are considerable and whilst much of the problem is outside of the medical sector, the sector itself is not immune.

This article has been written to explain the characteristics of a regulated level 7 qualification, and provide a number of easy steps to ensure that those wishing to be included on the JCCP register, invest in programmes that can deliver on the objective. We will start with the JCCP requirement.

JCCP Requirements

The Joint Council for Cosmetic Procedures was formed with the support of the Department of Health, following the Keogh Review and subsequent study conducted by Health Education England. Since 2016, the JCCP Education and Training Group, which has a wide range of practitioner and stakeholder interests has been working on defining the educational requirements for the five modalities considered by the HEE

  • Botulinum and Toxins
  • Dermal Fillers
  • Chemical Peel and Skin Rejuvenation 
  • Laser, IPL and LED Treatments 
  • Hair Restoration Surgery 

In the coming months the JCCP will publish its requirements for training providers wishing to be included on the training providers register and details of the practitioners register.

Of the five modalities, it is perhaps the issues surrounding injectables and dermal fillers that has probably elicited the most debate and emotion, and it is this modality which is considered in this article. Without pre-empting the detail of the JCCP requirements, it is evident in the HEE report and widely understood that the JCCP will require training centres to be either: 

  • A Higher Education Institute approved by the JCCP 
  • A training company/organisation or college to be approved to offer regulated qualifications - for injectables at Level 7.

But how can you tell if the qualification offered by a training centre is regulated?

What is a Regulated Level 7 Qualification?

A regulated qualification is a qualification that has been approved by a UK qualifications regulator. In England, that regulator is Ofqual, who oversees school examinations (GCSE’s and A Levels) as well as Vocational and some Professional Qualifications. It should be noted however that Ofqual is not responsible for programmes or post graduate qualifications offered by the University sector.

To be recognised as a Regulated Qualification, the qualification must be issued by a Regulated Awarding organisation. The qualification itself will have the following characteristics: -

  1. It will have a published specification outlining entry requirements, qualification content and associated delivery and assessment conditions. This specification is different to a course programme in that it will describe what a person needs to know or do to gain a qualification, and how that knowledge, skill or competence will be assessed. This specification will be accessible via the above webpage which will link to the awarding organisations website. The IQ specification for the level 7 injectables can be found on the following link: -
  2. The qualification specification will reference a construct known as TQT (Total Qualification Time): The average time (hours) a candidate will typically take to achieve and demonstrate the level of attainment necessary for the award of the qualification. In other words, time taken to complete the full qualification. The stated value will match/represent the demands of the qualification content.
  3.  The stated TQT value will also link to the title in terms of the following terminology: Award/ Certificate/ Diploma. To the lay person, it may appear that these constructs relate to qualification complexity. However, their application is instead driven by the duration of the qualification. An

- Award indicates a small-sized qualification (i.e. a qualification that has a TQT value of  120 hours or less);

- Certificate to indicate a medium-sized qualification (i.e. a qualification that has a TQT value in the range 121-369 hours);

- Diploma to indicate a large-sized qualification (i.e. a qualification with a TQT value of 370 hours or more)

It is clearly NOT POSSIBLE for a certificate or diploma to be delivered across a weekend.

 5.  A regulated awarding organisation is required to “level” all regulated qualifications. Level is driven by the demands of each assessment criteria. All of the assessment criteria associated with a qualification can be located within the unit tables of the qualification specification. An awarding organisation is required to use the following levelling guide/ reference chart to deduce the level of each assessment criteria. (pages 5-9)

Identifying Regulated Level 7 Qualifications for Injectables

Ofqual is the qualifications regulator in England, with Scotland coming under the auspices of the Scottish Qualifications Authority and Wales, Qualifications Wales.

Currently, the focus of the JCCP has been on England and consequently, Awarding Organisations regulated by Ofqual. The first step in ensuring that you are investing in a training programme leading to a regulated qualification is to check whether the organisation providing the certificate is regulated by Ofqual. This can be done by searching on the following web-site If an organisation is Ofqual regulated, it will appear in the search results and the status will be listed as ‘recognised’.

However, just because an organisation is a regulated Awarding Organisation, it does not mean that it is regulated for the sector, or offers a regulated qualification. To verify that the qualification is a legitimate regulated qualification, use the same web-site, and search on the qualification title. If a qualification is regulated by Ofqual, it will appear in the search results and the qualification status will be listed as ‘available to learners’.

Currently, the only Awarding Organisation providing a regulated level 7 qualification in Injectables to HEE and JCCP requirements is Industry Qualifications. Whilst this is likely to change over time, currently it is very easy to find a centre offering a regulated level 7 qualification – they will be offering the IQ Level 7 Certificate in Injectables for Aesthetic Medicine (601/8963/0). There are 6 centres currently approved by IQ: 

-          Acquisition Aesthetics:  0203 3895611

-          Cosmetic Courses:  01844 318404

-          Derma Medical: 020 38737610

-          Harley Academy: 0203 8597958

-          Skin Viva: 0161 8502491

-          Save Face: 01495 239261

Working in an Informed Partnership

Work on the IQ Level 7 in Injectables and Dermal Fillers commenced in the early spring of 2016, prior to the formation of the JCCP, following an approach from the Harley Academy. As the qualification has developed, there has been significant input from Cosmetic Courses and Skin Viva in particular as the content and assessment materials have been tested and refined. The first regulated level 7 qualifications were achieved by candidates of the Harley Academy in September, and our other centres will follow shortly.

The programme is demanding, 278 hours with 59 contact hours, encompassing examination, OSCE’s and practical’s. Acknowledging this, Dr Adrian Richards of Cosmetic Courses said that “During my 16 years with Cosmetic Courses, I have seen numerous developments within the cosmetic sector and the introduction of the Level 7 qualification has been an encouraging movement towards the regulation of a common high standard throughout aesthetic education”. Dr Tristan Mehta from Harley academy highlighted that “the initial failure rate amongst medics was higher than expected and those involved now recognised that even for Doctors, work is required to achieve the qualification”.

The JCCP has announced that the Harley Academy will be the pilot centre for injectables for the training provider register using the IQ qualification.

Lee Cottrill of Skin Viva, part of the project group said “Skin Viva has welcomed the opportunity to work alongside IQ and the other centres to refine the programmes and assessment during 2017. Those involved are now extremely well placed to support those seeking early inclusion on the JCCP register”.

Warning: Spotting the Duds

There is clearly considerable confusion within the market. Training companies running short courses which are promoted as level 7, accredited by none accredited certification organisations or associations. If it is not an JCCP approved HEI, or a regulated awarding organisation with the level 7 listed on the Ofqual web-site, it is unlikely to meet the requirements of the JCCP

Also be aware of programmes that have been endorsed by regulated awarding organisations. Whilst the training may be good, this is not the same as a course leading to a regulated qualification. Yes, this is confusing; check the Ofqual web-site to find the real thing.

Finally, unless you are a registered health care professional, there are currently no pathways open to you as the level 5 and 6 bridging arrangements have not been established or agreed by the JCCP. 

For more information, you can get in touch with us at or 01952 457452. 

May 22, 2018 01:53 PM
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