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3 The European Qualifications Framework for Life Long Learning Implications for the National Context – a View of a Member State Vienna, 21 October 2005.

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Presentation on theme: "3 The European Qualifications Framework for Life Long Learning Implications for the National Context – a View of a Member State Vienna, 21 October 2005."— Presentation transcript:

1 3 The European Qualifications Framework for Life Long Learning Implications for the National Context – a View of a Member State Vienna, 21 October 2005

2 2 European Qualifications Framework n The creation of a European Qualifications Framework is essential to improving the quality of vocational education and training and for further developments in transparency, recognition of qualifications, credit transfer systems and quality assurance. n "The European framework should link together the wide diversity of different qualifications frameworks and systems at national level, so that these systems are able to communicate, and so that individuals can move between them." n Without a European framework for the recognition of qualifications earned through vocational training or higher education, the European labour market cannot function effectively and smoothly. This objective is considered a top priority for the successful implementation of the Lisbon strategy. The successful establishment of a European Qualifications Framework will be an instrument for strengthening coherent strategies for life-long learning, foster the quality and attractiveness of education and training, and promote mobility.

3 3 What can it offer? n facilitate citizens mobility within Europe – increase transnational transparency and recognition of qualifications n help citizens to navigate between complex national education and training systems and therefore support their lifelong learning n allow policy-makers and educational institutions to compare their frameworks, systems and qualifications and thus strengthen transparency and mutual trust between different education and training systems in Europe. n provide a reference framework for sectors and enterprises and therefore support their ongoing efforts to develop European and international solutions for mobility, transparency and recognition n the EQF will stimulate and guide reform and the development of new national frameworks. n A conversion table?

4 4 How will it work? The EQF will refer to the outcomes of learning rather than to the specificities of national systems. Main elements of EQF: a set of common reference levels. The 8 levels will mainly be defined according to learning outcomes - as opposed to being based on the structure of education and training institutions and systems (e.g. ISCED). The reference levels should be relevant to formal qualifications and to competences acquired though combinations of formal, non- formal and informal learning. The reference levels are supported by a range of common references and principles agreed at European level – on quality, guidance, and validation of non-formal learning, which aim to achieve mutual trust. An integrated credit transfer and accumulation system for life-long learning. This will reflect the common reference levels and support transparency, transfer and recognition in a direct and practical way. n A further role of EQF is to …inform, inspire and guide national and sectoral education, training and learning policies and their implementation - a national qualifications framework?

5 5 Motivations for NQFs n Open up access for acquiring vocational qualifications n General review of the respective education system- an international trend to bring more coherence to national education and training systems through comprehensive frameworks. n An instrument for promoting LLL n EQF

6 6 Main goals n Make qualifications transparent for users, learners and potential employers so that the former know what they have to learn and the latter know what they can expect; n Enable flexibility and transferability between different educational and occupational fields and between learning venues and, in doing so, eliminate barriers that currently block horizontal and vertical education paths.

7 7 Common Features Typically NQFs operate on the basis of the following assumptions : n It is possible to describe all qualifications using one single set of descriptors. n A single set of levels is sufficient for depicting all qualifications. n All (sub-)qualifications can be described and assessed in terms of learning outcomes, regardless of the place where they were acquired. n All qualifications can, in principle, be organized in units or unit standards for which a certain amount of learning time can be assumed and corresponding credits can be granted. Furthermore, they can be assigned to the proper level within the qualifications hierarchy with the help of descriptors. n National qualifications frameworks provide the foundation for learner- entered training systems. NQFs open up options for individuals and, in doing so, assign them responsibility for organizing their respective education path. n National qualifications frameworks carry efforts to increase the autonomy of education institutions

8 8 CREDITS In some cases, qualifications frameworks incorporate mechanisms for recognizing smaller units or clusters of learning outcomes, as is done in Scotland. With the help of such systems, modules and units – or even entire qualifications – can be recognized / credited individually, regardless of the level.

9 9 Challenges for the national context Hungarys educational system A number of detached sub-systems with little transparency and mobility between them The same is true for horizontal mobility – switching from one training paths or profile to another is still not easy an institution-oriented or process-oriented approach Recent changes, initiates for an outcomes oriented NQF Moving forward will require, as a first step, studies on the design and use of national frameworks.

10 10 The main challenge The Principles of Inputs versus Outcomes n Qualification systems that are based on the principles of inputs assume that different qualifications (e.g. academic and vocational, university and non-university, and vocational qualifications for different occupational sectors) relate to fundamentally different types of learning and the acquisition of different types of knowledge. They also differ in the extent to which they depend on periods of study (in a college, a school or a university) following specific syllabuses and periods of work experience (as in work-based vocational qualifications). n In contrast, Qualifications Frameworks give priority to the concept that all qualifications have similar features and that outcomes can be separated from the way in which they are achieved. n Can we assume that common criteria can be identified for recognising formal and informal learning? If the criteria stress evidence of codified or disciplinary knowledge, how can we validate informal learning. If on the other hand criteria emphasise practical problem solving in specific contexts, it may treat the knowledge component of vocational competence as less important. n These differences between existing qualification systems and qualification frameworks are not small. They imply different notions of learning and knowledge, of expertise and experience, and different approaches to assessment.

11 11 Main questions concerning NQF n How many levels will be needed to capture existing qualifications/skills adequately? n Which descriptors are appropriate for describing knowledge, skills and abilities and for differentiating between them on a h specific to individual fields in an appropriate way? n Could there be an integrated set of descriptors that encompasses vocational training and higher education in a single continuum or do these two education systems follow fundamentally different sets of logic (experience versus written/more explicit knowledge, as the case may be)? n Is it possible to agree on descriptors that allow an appropriate portrayal/classification of various sets of competences (qualifications, occupations). The answer to this question will require comprehensive coordination that involves all parties at every level of the qualification system.

12 12 What can we learn from the success stories? n Consensus and compromise All qualifications depend on trust between providers and users. which is built up over time. Qualifications can only work on the basis of trust. Developing trust in new criteria (such as level descriptors) takes time and experience. Consultation processes and a principled compromise are crucial. n Building blocks Scotland demonstrates the importance of the building blocks of a framework being in place. Only when there were separate frameworks for upper secondary schools, vocational education and universities in place was the overarching Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework introduced. n A step-by-step approach A radical break gives neither practitioners nor other stakeholders any bench marks to test the new ideas about outcomes and levels against their experience n Supporting policies Qualifications Frameworks are often considered a separate instruments of education reform to ensure portability, transparency and quality. - lessons from the successful countries such as Scotland, New Zealand, Ireland: an NQF is only one element in a much broader strategy

13 13 The Way Forward A national qualifications framework could assist in providing the answer to a lot of these questions. But only if the social bodies and institutions that are "responsible" for designing and organizing qualifications will be able to work together across the boundaries of their traditional territories. New actors should also be involved. With these conditions it will be possible to ensure the acceptance and credibility that qualifications need in order to fulfil the role of a "currency" on national and international labour markets.

14 14 Implications for a European Qualifications Framework n EQF as a meta-framework may promote cross-sector and inter- disciplinary co-operations, which will also contribute to the trust in the common levels and criteria. A lot of understanding of the common approaches and principles of qualifications frameworks in general are also highly needed. n Implementation Strategy: a step-by step approach, building blocks, supporting policies, consensus and staying as close as possible to practice are very important as well as a commitment on the national level to link national frameworks/systems to EQF.

15 15 EQF should be based on zones of mutual trust and credibility

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