European Qualifications Framework (EQF) is an overarching eight-level European reference system, which is aimed at promoting lifelong learning and fostering the cross-border mobility. By providing common reference points for the national qualifications of the European countries, the EQF assists in ensuring better comparison and understanding of the various European national qualifications.
The EQF levels are not related to any specific qualifications or education programmes, but they indicate the extent, to which a learner has acquired relevant knowledge, skills and competences during their learning.
In this case, it is unimportant how the particular level has been achieved, i.e. whether the learner has participated in a formal or informal/non-formal learning, in vocational or general education programme, as the emphasis is placed on learning outcomes. Learning outcomes are applied to describe the EQF levels because the comparison and explanation of qualifications awarded in various national education systems on the basis of educational process features, e.g. duration, would be inappropriate, since the national education systems and their contexts are quite different.
In terms of the EQF, learning outcomes are defined as statements of what a learner knows, understands and is able to do after a certain period of learning.
Learning outcomes are expressed in three categories or dimensions: knowledge, skills and competence (responsibility and autonomy from 2017).
See the EQF level descriptors (2017)
Thus, the EQF levels cover all education sectors (vocational, general and higher education), all education levels (basic, secondary and higher education, continuing education), as well as all education forms (formal, non-formal and informal learning).
The EQF development process began in 2004 with the aim of promoting transparency and portability of qualifications, as well as supporting lifelong learning. Experts from 32 European countries and the European social partners were involved in the framework consultation process. The descriptors of framework levels (The recommendation of the European Parliament and Council on the EQF for lifelong learning) officially came into force in April 2008 and renewed in May 2017. This document recommended that by 2010 the Member States should reference their national qualifications systems to the EQF; and by 2012 the Member States should ensure that diplomas awarded include a reference to the appropriate EQF level.
In Latvia, the indication of the LQF/EQF levels in education documents started during the second phase of the referencing process (2013-2019). By the year 2013 in accordance with the Cabinet of Ministers' Regulation No 202 "Procedure of issuing state-recognized certificates of higher education" the level of acquired qualification in Diploma supplements should be indicated according to the Latvian professional qualification level, European/Latvian Qualifications Framework level or the EHEA Qualifications Framework level. In accordance with the Amendments to the Law on Vocational Education, starting from 1 January 2017, the level of the Latvian Qualifications Framework has to be indicated in the state recognized vocational education documents and documents certifying professional qualifications.
National Qualifications Framework (NQF) is a reference system of national scale, in which qualifications awarded in a certain national education system are arranged by levels. The NQF structure, composition and functions should be developed according to EQF, but the details and the actual meaning of the NQF in the qualifications system are discussed and agreed on by the national social partners, taking into account the national education traditions and context, as well as interests of the involved parties.
See more information about the Latvian Qualifications Framework here.