Explanation of National Qualification Frameworks

National Qualifications Frameworks (NQFs) are having an increasing influence on national reforms of education, training and qualifications systems, in particular in terms of addressing the challenges of lifelong learning. A qualifications framework is an instrument for the development and classification of qualifications. In their most basic sense NQFs can be understood as classifiers specifying the relationship – horizontally and vertically - between different qualifications within a national system. A comprehensive qualifications framework is one that covers all levels and types of education, both academic and vocational.

The purpose of National Qualification Frameworks

The NQF provides a way to compare qualifications and to describe the relation between the different levels of a national educational system, and the level, workload and learning outcomes of specific qualifications. This should also help recognition abroad. It is a useful tool for employers and educational/training institutions to better understand the level of a national and foreign qualification, in particular with regard to further study opportunities and occupational/professional outcomes.

Types of Qualification Frameworks

There are several types of qualification frameworks: national qualification frameworks referring to one country’s educational system and international overarching frameworks such as the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning (EQF-LLL), which provides a common European reference framework, and the framework of qualifications for the European Higher Education Area also known as the Bologna framework or the EHEA-QF. The EQF-LLL and the EHEA-QF are overarching frameworks whose goal is to facilitate the mutual understanding of qualifications within the European Economic Area and the EHEA countries respectively, enabling an easier comparison of systems and levels of education.

NQFs may be referenced against the international frameworks, thus describing which levels in the national and international frameworks correspond to each other.