National Qualifications Frameworks and the European Overarching Frameworks: Supporting Lifelong Learning in European Education and Training on 15 April 2010 in Dublin Castle.
The National Qualifications Authority of Ireland co-hosted this conference with the Higher Education Authority, supported by the Further Education and Training Awards Council, the Higher Education and Training Awards Council and the Irish Universities Quality Board. The conference attracted an international audience of over 150 delegates from countries across the European Union and beyond. The conference aimed to contribute to building mutual trust and understanding in order to better achieve the shared goals of supporting individuals’ lifelong learning and mobility. Download the Conference Report.
The conference heard that the existence of two meta-frameworks gave some potential for confusion and agreed that dissemination of targeted information to key audiences is essential to minimise this. The primacy of National Qualifications Frameworks (NQFs) over the meta-frameworks was stressed. Stakeholders need to engage with the national system and the benefits of the meta-frameworks will follow. If frameworks are to have any effect then NQFs must meet national challenges for the development of education and training systems.
The issues paper highlighted the separation that exists in many countries between those parts of the system that are responsible for NQF development and those engaged in qualifications recognition. It was noted that NQFs never stand alone: they are linked to other instruments of recognition. In order to support recognition and mobility, the importance of closer cooperation between people dealing with recognition and those dealing with NQFs was stressed. Equally, the discussion highlighted the need for learning-outcomes-based NQFs to be underpinned by robust quality assurance and to be referenced to the meta-frameworks in a transparent way in order to build mutual trust between countries.
The conference concluded with a global perspective. Speakers, including those from Australia and the United States, highlighted the benefits of countries learning from each other. Over 100 countries worldwide are in the process of developing NQFs and there are also examples of several transnational (meta-) frameworks. The Bologna and EQF pro-cesses were seen by participants as major influences on the way NQFs are being developed. Further consideration of how European and global developments can be articulated would be beneficial and, indeed, necessary if we are to increase mobility for learners worldwide.