Tag: European Qualifications Framework (EQF)

Eurobarometer survey on European Area of Skills and Competencies

eurobarometerEurobarometer is a Europe wide public opinion survey that has been conducted since 1973 to monitor views on issues such as: social situation, health, culture, defence and so forth.

Occasionally, special surveys are also launched for more detailed analysis on a specific subject or topic.

Earlier this year, a special Eurobarometer survey was conducted on the question of “European area of Skills and Competencies”, a public consultation has recently been finished (view summary of consultation results here).

The report that summarises the main findings from the Eurobarometer survey was launched in June. The backdrop for the report are the recent developments of introducing instruments for transparency and recognition of qualifications, in essence the construction of the European Area of Skills and Competencies.

The themes in the survey include skills obtained in education and training, attitudes towards various aspects of education and training, studying abroad, documentation of skills and qualifications and flexible learning pathways, career guidance an the extent to which citizens seek for information on these issues.

Regarding the skills obtained, most view basic skills as most important, with some socio-demographic differences – the higher the level of education, the more likely people are to value specialized skills. Younger people are also likely to view foreign languages as more important, but this is also most widely considered a skill that can be obtained outside of formal education. Furthermore, the better educated people are, the more likely they are to think that languages can be learned outside of formal education. Workplace was considered by most as the arena to obtain skills outside of formal education.

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.

European Commission report on quality assurance in Europe

EUQuality assurance is one of the areas where European cooperation has advanced in a relatively significant manner over the last decade. Recently, the Commission published a new report on issues related to quality and quality assurance in Europe. The report refers to the 2009 report that put forward three main aims: to make quality assurance (QA) more transparent for users, to link it closer to the wider aims of higher education, and to further develop cross-border cooperation. 

The current report sums up the most important developments in quality assurance in Europe since 2009 with various available reports from sources such as EHEA working group, EUA, EACEA, IBAR and ESU. While progress is reported on most areas, it is also highlighted that linking quality assurance to concrete quality improvement processes and strategic work of the institutions remains a challenge. The positive impact of the European Standards and Guidelines (ESG) is noted, but it is also highlighted that their implementation has this far been rather uneven, and a revision process of ESG is now in process. 

The report highlights that the areas where more action is still necessary are in particular widening access, employability, internationalisation, improvement of doctoral training as well as human resource strategies. The need to shift attention to the content rather than the procedural aspects of quality assurance is highlighted in several parts of the document. Furthermore quality assurance issues are linked to mobility concerns and qualifications frameworks, perhaps a rather unsurprising linkage, considering that both of these topics have been a rather successful themes in European higher education for EU led joint cooperation.

New portal for the European Qualifications Framework

The European Qualifications Framework (EQF) is an initiative by the European Commission to function as a metaframework, a translation tool between various national systems in Europe. Adopted in 2008 in the form of a recommendation, European higher education systems have by now either developed their National Qualifications Frameworks (NQF), or are in the process of developing one in order to reference it towards the EQF.

Progress towards NQFs has been varied in various countries, and the process has taken various pathways. In some cases countries have more or less translated the EQF to a local language and then would attempt to place  their national qualifications to this framework. A different approach is where the starting point is taken in national educational systems to develop a NQF and then this is referred towards the EQF. Either way these processes have the potential to highlight some issues in educational systems that have been previously overlooked or taken for granted. This would assume that this referencing work is done in an in-depth manner, and is not only adopted in a superficial and cosmetic way due to compliance.

The Commission has recently launched a new portal for monitoring the developments of the EQF. When the referencing process is complete, the portal will give an option to compare NQFs in various European countries, search for specific qualifications, provide in-depth information about the EQF, the key terms and overview of all documents. While the referencing process is still in its early stages in most countries, it is already possible to download the referencing reports from 4 countries that have completed the process: Ireland, Malta, UK and France.

Click here to enter the EQF portal.