The Referencing Report has been adopted

raport refIn mid-2013, the Referencing Report describing the new qualifications system and referencing the Polish Qualifications Framework to the European Qualifications Framework was adopted by the Polish government and presented at an international forum. This document makes it possible to compare the qualifications awarded in Poland to the qualifications of other EU countries. As a result, a coherent labour market will be created in the European Union, where diplomas or certificates awarded in Poland will be transparent and understood by employers from other European countries.

The integrated qualifications system will consist of several interrelated components: the Polish Qualifications Framework, an integrated qualifications register, qualifications quality standards, standards for validating competencies, as well as a credit accumulation and transfer system. The PQF, like the European Qualifications Framework (EQF), consists of eight levels of qualifications. Each PQF level is described by general statements characterising the learning outcomes that a qualification must confirm in order to be found at a given level. The PQF takes into account learning outcomes achieved in formal education as well as in other ways. The PQF levels reflect the progress achieved by a learner within the scope of knowledge, skills and social competence. A unique solution used in Poland is to describe the requirements (“descriptor”) for each level by using varying degrees of detail.

First, there are universal level descriptors, that is, those that apply to all types of education. Second, there are more specific level descriptors, reflecting the specificity of either general, vocational or higher education. The third type are the most detailed - for example, descriptors for one of the eight broad areas of study in higher education; for the requirements of a specific subject in general education; or for a specific economic sector (e.g. construction, health care).

Another important element of the new system is the integrated qualifications register, which brings together information about registered qualifications, ie. those that meet the conditions required for the future modernised national qualifications system as defined by its legal provisions. The register will make it possible to make this information easily accessible in one place for all interested parties.

Entering a qualification into the integrated register will be associated with assigning it to a level of the PQF. The register will first include qualifications awarded in formal education – the formal general and vocational education system and higher education. Next, qualifications awarded by various institutions and industry organisations outside of the formal education system will be entered.

Various diplomas and certificates which will not be found in the register can continue to function as in the past to the extent that they are needed by society. However, they will not be assigned to a PQF level.

The information collected in the integrated register will be made available through an Internet portal. The National Qualifications System (NQS) portal, like similar portals in other EU countries, will be linked to the portal of the European Qualifications Framework.
The authors of the new qualifications system base its reliability on strictly defined, clear principles of qualifications’ quality assurance. The principles must be universal, without specifying the way the quality assurance is carried out (this can vary). Various institutions and organisations must be involved in working together on the development, and then, implementation of these principles. Additionally, all entities performing tasks related to external monitoring should be directly or indirectly overseen by relevant public authorities. International experiences and good practices of qualifications systems developed by various institutions and industries in the country were used in formulating the general principles of quality assurance.

A key element of the new qualifications system is validation, i.e. confirming attained learning outcomes. Validation principles, standards and methods, as well as ways to ensure the transparency of these processes, must be prepared. Today, people who are at least 18 years of age may take extramural examinations conducted by Regional Examination Boards. After these examinations have been passed, a certificate of completion can be awarded for every type of formal general education school (primary, lower secondary or upper secondary) and for the vocational qualifications, which can be attained in the schools of the formal education system. It is also possible to award vocational qualifications certificates on the basis of having passed extramural examinations in a given profession.

In higher education, the procedures for validating learning outcomes achieved outside of the formal system are determined by individual higher education institutions. An important direction of development of the National Qualifications System is to increase opportunities to have higher education institutions validate learning outcomes achieved outside of this system.

Validation is related to the concept of credit accumulation and transfer. The work of experts is also being carried out on this issue. The Polish model for credit accumulation and transfer must be compatible with European solutions (ECTS: European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System, applied today at universities; ECVET – European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training) to enable credits to be transferred between the Polish qualifications system and the systems of different EU member states.

All information about the qualifications available in Poland, the Polish Qualifications Framework, the qualifications register and validation may be found in the portal of the National Qualifications System. Each qualification in the portal will be described in detail: its official name, assigned PQF level and the learning outcomes (knowledge, skills, and social competence) that need to be validated in order to achieve it. Additionally, the portal will also include such aspects as the pre-requisite education (or qualifications) needed to begin attaining a given qualification, the manner of attaining it, its period of validity, the type of document certifying the qualification, desired pre-dispositions, medical contraindications and the subsequent qualifications, which can be attained after it has been awarded.

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