Qualifications frameworks in Europe

The concept of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) emerged in 2004. It was formulated by the European Commission in October 2006 and formally approved by the European Parliament on April 23, 2008 (Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2008 on the establishment of the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning). This Recommendation was preceded by a decision of the conference of Ministers responsible for higher education made in Bergen in 2005. At that time, it was agreed that countries participating in the Bologna Process should implement a Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area.

A significant addition to the 2008 Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the EQF was adopted the following year to address vocational education - the Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 June 2009 on the establishment of a European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET).

The EQF is the first international common reference framework that includes all qualifications and is completely based on learning outcomes. The aim of the EQF is to facilitate the comparison of qualifications achieved at various times, in different places and ways, to better adapt qualifications to the needs of the labour market and civil society, to result in increased labour force mobility, promote lifelong learning and social development of developed democracies.
The European Qualifications Framework was developed as a system or framework for different systems and qualifications frameworks in Europe. In this sense, it serves as a meta-system for national systems. In implementing the European Qualifications Framework, it is assumed that each country will refer its national qualifications to the eight levels of the European Qualifications Framework. This is done through national qualifications frameworks or by defining levels accordingly in a national qualifications system. The EQF allows learning effects, achieved in general, higher or vocational education (including training workshops) – through formal and non-formal pathways – to be integrated in one description.

See how the EQF levels compare to the qualifications frameworks of specific countries. Only a few countries have thus far completed the process of referencing their framework to the European system.

The EQF Advisory Group has been mandated by the European Commission, member states as well as social partners to oversee implementation of the European Qualifications Framework. The EQF Advisory Group is supported by experts working in one of eight clusters engaged in the Education and Training 2010 Work Programme.  

It is anticipated that all qualifications conferred in Europe (validated by a diploma, certificate) will be referenced to the European Qualifications Framework. Participation in the programme to implement national frameworks is voluntary, but it is recommended that the following timetable be adopted by countries deciding to do so:
  • By 2010: link national education systems to the European Qualifications Framework through national qualifications frameworks.
  • By 2012: approve the inclusion of a reference to the appropriate level in the European Qualifications Framework in all national documents validating the achievement of qualifications.

(Based on the report "Od  Europejskich  do  Polskich  Ram  Kwalifikacji [From European to Polish Qualifications Frameworks]" of the Expert Team for the first stage of work on the National Qualifications Framework).

 KRK na youtube