European Qualifications Framework

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Front page of the publication.
Front page of the publication

Full title
The European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning (EQF)

Abstract
The EQF refers to itself as a common reference framework which links countries’ qualifications systems together, acting as a translation device to make qualifications more readable and understandable across different countries and systems in the Europe. It is thus a meta-framework that forms a translation device between different (mostly) national qualification systems. Each of these qualification system needs to link its qualifications to the EQF by developing a compatible national qualifications framework. The EQF has two self-ascribed principal aims: to promote citizens’ mobility between countries and to facilitate their lifelong learning. The EQF was formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union in 2008.

Publisher: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.

Cite:
European Commission. (2008). The European qualifications framework for lifelong learning (EQF). Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. Download




The European Qualifications Framework (EQF) relates the national qualifications systems and frameworks at all levels in education and training together around a common reference for the European Union. In practice, it functions as a translation device making national qualifications more readable abroad. This should help learners and workers wishing to move between countries or change jobs or move educational institutions at home.

For example, currently an enterprise in Ireland may hesitate to recruit a job applicant from, say, Hungary, because it does not understand the level of the qualifications presented by the Hungarian candidate. But once the EQF is fully implemented a Hungarian's certificates will bear an EQF reference level e.g. level 5, easily compared to Irish qualifications via the EQF and the Irish qualifications framework.

The core element of the EQF is a set of eight reference levels describing what a learner knows, understands and is able to do — their ‘learning outcomes’ — regardless of the system where a particular qualification was acquired. The EQF focuses on learning outcomes: what a person holding a particular qualification actually knows and is able to do. This approach is intended:

  • to support a better match between the needs of the labour market (for knowledge, skills and competences) and education and training provision
  • to facilitate the validation of non-formal and informal learning
  • to facilitate the transfer and use of qualifications across different countries and education and training systems.

The levels in the EQF

Each of the 8 levels is defined by a set of descriptors indicating the learning outcomes relevant to qualifications at that level in any system of qualifications.

In the context of EQF,

  • knowledge is described as theoretical and/or factual
  • skills are described as cognitive (involving the use of logical, intuitive and creative thinking) and practical (involving manual dexterity and the use of methods, materials, tools and instruments).
  • competence is described in terms of responsibility and autonomy.

Level 1

The learning outcomes relevant to Level 1 are:

  • basic general knowledge
  • basic skills required to carry out simple tasks
  • work or study under direct supervision in a structured context

Level 2

The learning outcomes relevant to Level 2 are

  • basic factual knowledge of a field of work or study
  • basic cognitive and practical skills required to use relevant information in order to carry out tasks and to solve routine problems using simple rules and tools
  • work or study under supervision with some autonomy

Level 3

The learning outcomes relevant to Level 3 are

  • knowledge of facts, principles, processes and general concepts, in a field of work or study.
  • a range of cognitive and practical skills required to accomplish tasks and *solve problems by selecting and applying basic methods, tools, materials and information
  • take responsibility for completion of tasks in work or study
  • adapt own behaviour to circumstances in solving problems

Level 4

The learning outcomes relevant to Level 4 are

  • factual and theoretical knowledge in broad contexts within a field of work or study
  • a range of cognitive and practical skills required to generate solutions to specific problems in a field of work or study
  • exercise self-management within the guidelines of work or study contexts that are usually predictable, but are subject to change
  • supervise the routine work of others, taking some responsibility for the evaluation and improvement of work or study activities

Level 5

The learning outcomes relevant to Level 5 are

  • comprehensive, specialised, factual and theoretical knowledge within a field of work or study and an awareness of the boundaries of that knowledge
  • a comprehensive range of cognitive and practical skills required to develop creative solutions to abstract problems
  • exercise management and supervision in contexts of work or study activities where there is unpredictable change
  • review and develop performance of self and others

#Level 5 is compatible with the Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area

Level 6

The learning outcomes relevant to Level 6 are

  • advanced knowledge of a field of work or study, involving a critical understanding of theories and principles
  • advanced skills, demonstrating mastery and innovation, required to solve complex and unpredictable problems in a specialised field of work or study
  • manage complex technical or professional activities or projects, taking responsibility for decision-making in unpredictable work or study contexts
  • take responsibility for managing professional development of individuals and groups

#Level 6 is compatible with the Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area

Level 7

The learning outcomes relevant to Level 7 are

  • highly specialised knowledge, some of which is at the forefront of knowledge in a field of work or study, as the basis for original thinking and/or research
  • critical awareness of knowledge issues in a field and at the interface between different fields
  • specialised problem-solving skills required in research and/or innovation in order to develop new knowledge and procedures and to integrate knowledge from different fields
  • manage and transform work or study contexts that are complex, unpredictable and require new strategic approaches
  • take responsibility for contributing to professional knowledge and practice and/or for reviewing the strategic performance of teams

#Level 7 is compatible with the Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area

Level 8

The learning outcomes relevant to Level 8 are

  • knowledge at the most advanced frontier of a field of work or study and at the interface between fields
  • the most advanced and specialised skills and techniques, including synthesis and evaluation, required to solve critical problems in research and/or innovation and to extend and redefine existing knowledge or professional practice
  • demonstrate substantial authority, innovation, autonomy, scholarly and professional integrity and sustained commitment to the development of new ideas or processes at the forefront of work or study contexts including research.

#Level 8 is compatible with the Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area

Compatibility with the Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area

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