News: Complicated landscape of qualifications between secondary and higher education

Logo_Cedefop_1Qualifications placed on European Qualifications Framework level 5 have been the focus for a new study published by CEDEFOP: “Qualifications at level 5: progressing in a career or to higher education”.

The study was commissioned by CEDEFOP to examine in particular qualifications across Europe that are placed on level 5 on the EQF. In many countries these qualifications imply short cycle higher education, but the qualifications on this level show great variety and complexity. The briefing note presents this level as having “hidden potential” to address various policy problems.

The EQF defines the knowledge, skills and competencies for level 5 qualifications as following:

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

In the briefing note following the CEDEFOP report it is highlighted that the diveristy of qualifications that can be found on level 5 is greater than anticipated. Furthermore, it is highlighted that their classification with ISCED (UNESCOs system of classification) varies as some of such qualifications are placed on ISCED 5B whereas others are considered ISCED 4, as such  their placement in the educational map of various educational systems is often unclear.

The study identifies that typically these qualifications include short cycle higher education, but only 50% of the qualifications can be considered to be obtained outside the formal systems, and the rest of the group includes a varied picture of various institutional arrangements. The report identifies four typologies of European countries for these qualifications:

  • Level 5 qualifications are obtained outside the formal system: Czech Republic and Estonia;
  • A single qualification type linked to level 5: Latvia and the Netherlands (short-cycle higher education): Austria (vocational education and training);
  • Higher education and vocational qualifications linked to level 5: Denmark, Belgium (Flanders), Luxembourg, and Croatia;
  • Several sectoral, private and/or general education qualification options for level 5: France, Ireland, Malta, and UK.

The report highlights how these qualifications are seen as important bridge between educational sectors and their importance for addressing key policy problems in EU educational policy.

Read  and download the whole report here