Magazine article European Social Policy

Education and Training : Ministers Back Plans for Qualifications Framework

Magazine article European Social Policy

Education and Training : Ministers Back Plans for Qualifications Framework

Article excerpt

Strong backing was given by EU education ministers for the European Commission's proposals to create a European Qualifications Framework (EQF), at the Council's meeting on 14 November.

Ministers adopted a general approach which differs only subtly from the Commission's proposals, and the changes have the support of the EU executive.

The EQF is aimed at creating a common language to describe qualifications, by providing for them to be rated against one of eight EU-wide reference levels, and one of the alterations made by Council relates to the timetable envisaged for implementing the framework. Ministers have given themselves an extra year (ie until 2010) to relate their national qualifications systems to the EQF. They have granted the same extension to the deadline by which all new qualification certificates, diplomas and Europass' documents issued have to contain a clear reference to the appropriate EQF level (something which will now have to be completed by 2012).

A key element of the EQF is quality assurance. Relevant authorities in the member states need to assure themselves that the levels of achievement associated with their qualifications are actually being reached. It is something seen by the Commission as essential for building mutual trust between the different member states. Its proposal consequently contained a set of common principles for quality assurance that authorities should adhere to, and here also the Council has made a slight change, by clarifying that these would only apply to higher education and vocational education and training. …

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