I had to research the ABE qualification on behalf of someone who went on to do it. The ABE certificate was previously a level 3 qualification, it has now been revised to a level 4 qualification. In terms of what it allows you to do, the is no real difference in progression paths.
ABE introduced the integrated diploma which combined the level 5 and 6 diploma into 2 year course, which is beneficial for students coming to the UK to study. It allows 4 exam sittings to achieve the all the units required for the level 5 and 6 diploma, without having to reapply for a visa between levels.
The previous the ABE Diploma had level 4 and 5 units. With the revision, there only level 5 units, you need to pass 8 to get the diploma. The old course had 9 units, 4 at level 4 for the Diploma part 1 and 5 at level 5 for the Diploma part 2.
The ABE certificate can be completed in as little as 6 months, but that requires you to sit all 4 units at one exam session, but one academic year is more manageable. The Integrated Diploma is designed to be complete in 2 academic years. Each of the remaining qualifications level 5, 6 and 7 designed to be completed in one academic year each. Which allows you split your unit exams over two exam sittings. I think you are limited to the number of exams you can take in one sitting.
If you want to have good qualification recognition, you should progress to traditional degree, there are different entry points depending on what level you progress to in ABE.
A level 7 ABE post graduate diploma, gets you to enough credits to exceed the credits necessary for a UK degree, but not enough for a UK Masters. You may gain admission to a Masters course, without doing a degree if you successfully complete the level 7 diploma. But recognition will depend on the admitting university, you may still have to complete the full masters course.
Last edited by edjunkie; 03-06-2012 at 22:43.