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29 March 2006
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30 March 2006

The transition to the new CIPS qualifications is under way. As many students will have questions about how this affects them, Carole Bain answers some of the common queries

"So far so good" is the message after completion of the latest stage in transition to the new CIPS qualifications due to start in September 2006. Fourteen thousand graduate diploma students will now have received their personal transition statements explaining their options.

Most found their statements gave all the information they needed to make an informed choice in options for transition, but here are some of the questions that students have asked our helpline. What are my options? First, consider your personal transition statement carefully. Remember that your decision to either complete the existing programme, or transfer to the new qualifications, depends on how many units you have already done. Take your personal circumstances into consideration too, when you make your decision.

One option may be to continue with the current programme and complete with external exams in May and November 2006. There will also be a final re-sit opportunity in May 2007.

The final decision is up to you. Although it is not essential to complete the current programme, we would encourage students who have, say, four more units to take, to consider sitting two units in May and two in November. By doing this they will complete their qualification. Late entries can be accepted up to 4 April 2006, the closing date for the May exams.

Alternatively, you can have a combination of current and new units. Your personal transition statement will contain details of what this means for you. Details of the new levels and unit titles can be found on the back of your personal statement.

Does it matter which units I choose? No. It is important that you pick the correct number of units but the choice is up to you.

Ask yourself how many exams you can cope with in November. Read the unit contents of the syllabus carefully (these are on the website and in the October 2005 issue of Qualifications Update).

Consider how much work you are realistically able to do in the time allowed and balance this with your job and personal life.

How will the new qualifications be implemented? There will be a transitional period when the existing qualification is phased out and the new is phased in, so there will be an overlap between the two.

Between now and the launch of the new qualifications, students will have two further opportunities to sit examinations for the existing ones. As stated earlier, these will be in May and November, with re-sits available in May 2007. When will CIPS transfer students from current to new qualifications? Students who are not taking examinations for the current programme after September 2006 will be transferred at the end of that month.

Students who are taking exams in November this year, or on-demand exams up to December, will be transferred after the results are issued. Will I have to sit more exams because of these changes? No. If you are already studying the current qualification, you will only need to complete (that is, pass or be exempt from) 14 units in total, which can be a mixture of current and new units. The units you have already passed still count.

The new qualification leading to MCIPS (levels 4, 5 and 6) will be a total of 15 units, one more than currently, so we are giving students a credit to cover the extra unit. This means they do not need to sit more exams. The transfer credit is reflected in your statement and in the chart on pages 4-5 of Qualifications Update 2 February 2006 issue.

Do the units I've already passed on the graduate diploma still count? Yes. To gain MCIPS you will need to pass a total of 14 units, and that can be a combination of current and new units, depending on where you are on the qualifications ladder.

Check your personalised transition statement and follow the guide on pages 4-5 of Qualifications Update 2 February 2006 to see where you will be on the ladder.

Do I have to study specific units? If you are a transition student, you have a free choice within each level. CIPS awards bring benefits The new CIPS qualifications have received a warm welcome from all areas of the purchasing profession.

Kevin Keigher, business partnership manager and CIPS programme leader at the University of Derby, said: "I am sure that the new structure of qualifications will bring a fresh dimension that focuses on both individual and organisational benefits.

"In both of my roles, there has been a continuing emphasis from corporate clients on ensuring a return on their investment in training and development. The structure of the new qualifications, with the gradual introduction of work-based assignments, will ensure that organisational benefits are obvious, practical and measurable." What further support is available? The qualifications section on the website at will provide the latest details and downloads throughout the phased introduction of the programme. Leaflets are also available. Qualifications Update 3 newsletter will be sent to students in May.

The tutors' section at will be regularly updated so that your tutor can answer any queries. There will also be workshops for tutors and lecturers starting soon, so education providers will be up to date with unit content and assessment details.

The Future Quals 2006 helpline is 01780 761494. Please note that this number is to be used only for queries on the new programme. Or e-mail queries to

Carole Bain is manager of membership operations at CIPS


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