The EQFs mode of action

The European Qualifications Framework basically consists of eight qualification levels. Each of these levels is desribed by the learning outcomes descriptors "knowledge", "skills" and "competence" necessary in order to reference a qualification to a specific level.

Learning outcomes

Learning outcomes means statements of what a learner knows, understands and is able to do on completion of a learning process, which are defined in terms of knowledge, skills and competence.

"Knowledge" means the outcome of the assimilation of information through learning. Knowledge is the body of facts, principles, theories and practices that is related to a field of work or study. In the context of the European Qualifications Framework, knowledge is described as theoretical and/or factual.

"Skills" means the ability to apply knowledge and use know-how to complete tasks and solve problems. In the context of the European Qualifications Framework, skills are described as cognitive (involving the use of logical, intuitive and creative thinking) or practical (involving manual dexterity and the use of methods, materials, tools and instruments).

"Competence" means the proven ability to use knowledge, skills and personal, social and/or methodological abilities, in work or study situations and in professional and personal development. In the context of the European Qualifications Framework, competence is described in terms of responsibility and autonomy.

Comparing qualifications across borders

Every formal qualification in Europe is references through a National Qualifications Framework to one of the eight EQF levels. This allows not only the comparison of qualifications with each other but also provides information about the level of "knowledge", "skills" and "competences" that can be expected from a holder a particular qualification.

But not all National Qualifications Frameworks use the same level structure. This is especially the case in countries that already had a kind of qualifications framework in place prior to the launch of the EQF or whichs VET systems require another structure. For this purpose the European Commission provides a simple tool in order to match the levels of different national qualifications frameworks and of the EQF:

On the EQF level 1 is the lowest and level 8 the highest qualification level. Generally it can be said that B.A. and M.A. qualifications are allocated on the levels 6 and 7 of the EQF and level 8 hosts the doctoral level while skilled worker qualifications are usually referenced to the levels 3 and 4.

Qualifications are referenced to a specific EQF level through the National Qualifications Frameworks that are currently set up in all EU Member States. For this purpose all referencing countries provide a referencing report an the way how they realised this referencing process in their country. This is primarily done in order to build trust into this common qualifications framework and the levels assigned to different qualifications.