European Qualification Framework (EQF)

What is the EQF?

The European Qualifications Framework is a reference system which makes it easier to compare degrees and certificates acquired in Europe. The EQF consists of eight levels and it determines learning outcomes based on knowledge, skills, autonomy and responsibility.

Qualifications frameworks in each country are designed differently, for example, they may determine a varying number of levels or they may define learning outcomes on the basis of different aspects. The levels of each national qualifications framework are adjusted to the corresponding EQF level on the basis of a common system of criteria. As a result, the levels of qualifications acquired in each country will become comparable via the EQF serving as a reference system.

The eight levels of the European Qualifications Framework are set out in the Annex of the Recommendation of the Council of the European Union of 22 May 2017.

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What is the EQF good for?

  • It serves as a converting tool between various national qualification frameworks. It makes the contents of qualifications more transparent and straightforward for employers, teachers, employees and institutions.
  • It supports cross-border mobility and life-long learning.
  • Transparency intensifies trustfulness; as a result, adopting the qualification frameworks can promote the support of already existing procedures aiming at the mutual acceptance of qualifications.

The European Parliament and the Council accepted the recommendation about creating the European Qualification Framework for life-long learning in 2008.

The European Qualifications Framework (EQF) connects the national frameworks as a common European reference framework and promotes the understanding, comparison and recognition of various national qualifications and reference frameworks. Its objective is to support life-long learning and mobility across Europe with the aim of employment or further studies.

The EQF consists of eight levels; it determines learning outcomes on the basis of knowledge, skills, autonomy and responsibility. The recommendation of 2008 gave a description to member states on how to connect their national qualification frameworks to the European Qualification Framework in a transparent way thus corresponding their qualification levels to the EQF levels. Also, the recommendation requested that member states develop their own national qualification frameworks following the typical aspects of their educational systems.

Since 2008, the majority of European member states have established their own national qualification framework. Besides, the referencing procedures of the national qualification frameworks to the EQF have been concluded on the basis of commonly approved criteria. The advisory group of the EQF accepted the referencing report of Hungary in 2015.

In 2017, the Council has accepted a new EQF recommendation. The document contains the common quality assurance principles, the criteria of referencing procedures, the tasks related to EQF communication and the description concerning data about qualifications.

In certain countries, the linking of qualifications to ESCO has begun. ESCO is the classification system of the European Commission connecting professions, competences and qualifications.

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The legal background of the EQF

The EQF is included in the council recommendation issued on 22 May 2017 (2017/C 189/3) on the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning and repealing the recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2008 on the establishment of the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning.