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The European Parliament has voted in support of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF), a ‘translation grid’ for qualifications across Europe, proposed in September 2006 by the European Commission. The goal of the EQF is to assist employers in understanding the disparate qualifications levels of potential employees, thus facilitating cross- border employment and life-long learning in the EU. Following an agreement between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, the EQF will be formally adopted by the Council in the coming weeks.
The EQF is divided in eight reference levels that are designed to explain a learner’s knowledge, understanding, and application skills. It also attempts to validate both formal and non-formal learning and across the entire span of education, from compulsory degrees to professional training. The goal is that certificates and diplomas awarded in the EU should reference the EQF by 2012.
The EQF is a supportive side-development of the Bologna Process that has been highly influential on the national qualifications frameworks (NQFs) that Bologna signatory countries are creating. It has been subject to wide debate and was three years in the making. Some countries fear that the double layer of a NQF and an EQF will grossly complicate the qualifications procedures that learning institutions will have to follow. However European officials argue that the EQF is highly compatible with the Bologna Process QF indicators, differing only on vocational education and training.