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National Qualifications Frameworks

All countries of the European Higher Education Area have committed to developing national qualifications frameworks compatible with the overarching framework of the European Higher Education Area by 2010. This commitment was undertaken in 2005, and the 2007 stocktaking report reasonably showed that this is an area where considerable work remains to be done.

National qualifications frameworks encompass all education qualifications – or all higher education qualifications, depending on the policy of the country concerned – in an education system. They show what learners may be expected to know, understand and be able to do on the basis of a given qualification (learning outcomes) as well as how qualifications within a system articulate, that is how learners may move between qualifications in an education system.

National qualifications frameworks are developed by the competent public authorities in the country concerned. While this is ultimately the competence and responsibility of the public authorities responsible for the country‘s higher education system, however, the participation of a broad range of stakeholders – including higher education institutions, students, staff and employers – is necessary for the framework to be successful. The development of national qualifications frameworks should therefore include broad consultations.

The process of developing national qualifications frameworks may be summarized in 10 essential steps.

Once the national qualifications framework has been developed, it should be tested and then self certified. The self certification is a process by which the competent authorities of the country concerned verify that the national qualifications framework is compatible with the overarching EHEA Framework. The self certification process should also include input from foreign experts.

Once the self certification process has been completed, self certification reports should be published so that partners in the European Higher Education Area may access them. Self certification reports submitted to the Bologna Secretariat and/or the Council of Europe may be consulted here.

Information on the development of qualifications frameworks in specific countries may be found here.


A. 10 steps in developing a national qualifications framework

  1. Decision to start: Taken by the national body responsible for higher education (minister?)
  2. Setting the agenda: The purpose of our NQF WG-Report nr. 1 (section 2.3)
  3. Organising the process: Identifying stakeholders; setting up a committee/WG
  4. Design Profile: Level structure, Level descriptors (learning outcomes), Credit ranges
  5. Consultation National discussion and acceptance of design by stakeholders
  6. Approval According to national tradition by Minister/Government/legislation
  7. Administrative set-up Division of tasks of implementation between HEI, QAA and other bodies
  8. Implementation at institutional/programme level;  Reformulation of individual study programmes to learning outcome based approach
  9. Inclusion of qualifications in the NQF;  Accreditation or similar (cfr. Berlin Communiqué)
  10. Self-certification of compatibility with the EHEA framework (Alignment to Bologna cycles etc.);  WG Report nr. 1;  Pilot projects

The sequence of steps need not be identical in all countries.

Source: the report by the Bologna Working Party on Qualifications Frameworks submitted to the conference of Ministers of Education of the Bologna Process, London, May 2007


B. Bologna Framework and National Qualifications Frameworks

 Bologna Framework and Self Certification

Rationale and purpose of the Bologna Framework
The Bologna Framework in detail
Building trust
European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning
Appendix 1: Dublin Descriptors
Appendix 2: Good practice for the development of national frameworks of qualifications
Appendix 3: Criteria & Procedures for Verification of Framework Compatibility
Appendix 4: Recommendations to be considered by countries in undertaking the verification process


C. Published Self Certification Reports

This page contains links to the self certification reports submitted to the Bologna Secretariat and/or the Council of Europe on the completion of the self certification process. The page will be expanded as new reports are submitted.

Belgium/Flemish Community, February 2009

Denmark, November 2009

Germany, January 2009 (the report is also available in German)

Ireland, November 2006

The Netherlands, February 2009

United Kingdom

Scotland, December 2006
England, Wales and Northern Ireland, February 2009


D. Developments in the Countries of the EHEA

List of all countries with relevant links as they are being submitted.

For the time being we have links for:

AlbaniaAlbania GeorgiaGeorgia NorwayNorway
AndorraAndorra GermanyGermany PolandPoland
ArmeniaArmenia GreeceGreece PortugalPortugal
AustriaAustria (in German) Holy SeeHoly See RomaniaRomania
AzerbaijanAzerbaijan HungaryHungary Russian FederationRussian Federation
BelgiumBelgium/Flemish Community IcelandIceland SerbiaSerbia
BelgiumBelgium/French Community IrelandIreland Slovak RepublicSlovak Republic
Bosnia-HerzegovinaBosnia-Herzegovina ItalyItaly SloveniaSlovenia
BulgariaBulgaria LatviaLatvia SpainSpain
CroatiaCroatia LiechtensteinLiechtenstein SwedenSweden
CyprusCyprus LithuaniaLithuania SwitzerlandSwitzerland
Czech RepublicCzech Republic LuxembourgLuxembourg Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia"the former Yugoslav Republic
          of Macedonia"
DenmarkDenmark (på dansk) MaltaMalta TurkeyTurkey
EstoniaEstonia MoldovaMoldova UkraineUkraine
FinlandFinland MontenegroMontenegro United KingdomUnited Kingdom
FranceFrance NetherlandsNetherlands  


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