Qualifications Frameworks / Three-Cycle System 2007-2009

National Qualifications Frameworks - 2009

Archives Benelux Secretariat 2007-2009

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.

Content for Bologna Expert - 01/05/2009
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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.

Bologna Process Stocktaking London 2007

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.

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

Bologna Framework and National Qualifications Frameworks

The Bologna Framework and National Qualifications Frameworks – An introduction


  • Introduction
  • 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

Published Self Certification Reports

This section links to the self certification reports submitted (updated in 2009) to the Bologna Secretariat and/or the Council of Europe on the completion of the self certification process.

Developments in the Countries of the EHEA

List of all countries with relevant links submitted in 2009 (most of the former links are now broken, please consult each member's page for an updated information).

  • Andorra
  • Austria
  • Belgium - Flemish Community
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Ireland
  • Lithuania
  • Netherlands
  • Romania
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
Published: 01/05/2009 - Last modified: 20/10/2016
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