Qualifications Frameworks / Three-Cycle System 2007-2009

Bologna Coordination Group for Qualifications Frameworks 2007-2009

The Bologna Coordination Group for Qualifications Frameworks is established under the authority of the Bologna Follow Up Group to assist and advice the Council of Europe in coordinating the sharing of experience in the development of national qualifications frameworks compatible with the Overarching Qualifications Framework of the European Higher Education Area.

Content for Bologna Expert - 03/10/2007
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The Bologna Coordination Group for Qualifications Frameworks shall advice the Council of Europe in fulfilling the mandate given to the Council of Europe by Ministers in paragraph 2.8 of the London Communiqué:

We note that some initial progress has been made towards the implementation of national qualifications frameworks, but that much more effort is required. We commit ourselves to fully implementing such national qualifications frameworks, certified against the overarching Framework for Qualifications of the EHEA, by 2010. Recognising that this is a challenging task, we ask the Council of Europe to support the sharing of experience in the elaboration of national qualifications frameworks. We emphasise that qualification frameworks should be designed so as to encourage greater mobility of students and teachers and improve employability.

In particular, the Coordination Group shall act as a forum for debate on qualifications frameworks and give advice on:

  • activities designed to promote the sharing of experience in the development of national qualifications frameworks within the European Higher Education Area or at regional level within the EHEA;
  • specific issues relating to the development of national qualifications frameworks, their purposes, relationship to credits, qualifications, learning outcomes and curriculum reform, as well as issues of content, methodology and procedure, as appropriate;
  • experts that might assist countries in the development of their national frameworks, in cases where countries request such assistance. In so doing, the Coordination Group shall seek to ensure that experts represent a variety of backgrounds and experience;
  • methodology and procedures for the self-certification of completed national frameworks and help identify experts who might participate in self-certification exercises where countries ask for assistance in identifying suitable foreign experts for this purpose;
  • the publication of self-certification reports;
  • cooperation with the European Commission with a view to ensuring that national qualifications frameworks compatible with the overarching framework for the EHEA are also compatible with the European Qualifications Framework;
  • public information designed to promote the elaboration of national qualifications frameworks;
  • activities and material designed to ensure compatibility between the overarching EHEA framework and the EQF;
  • the relationship between the development of qualifications frameworks and other key policy areas within the Bologna Process, in particular as concerns the recognition of qualifications.

The Coordination Group shall also assist the Bologna Secretariat and the Stocktaking Group in gaining an overview of the state of developments of national qualifications frameworks in time for the 2009 stocktaking exercise.

Source: BFUG12_6_10 Qualifications Frameworks - Draft ToR

Conclusions and recommandations

Implementing national qualifications frameworks in line with the overarching Framework for Qualifications for the EHEA demands a lot of efforts at national level, supported by the sharing of experience facilitated by the Council of Europe and organizers of seminars.

Bologna Seminars

Other conferences, notably on ECTS and Learning Outcomes, (cf. Joint Degree 2007-2009) are linked to qualifications frameworks in that sense that describing and using learning outcomes is an important part of developing and implementing national qualifications frameworks. The Luxembourg seminar on employability was also relevant in that field.

The Council of Europe also encouraged regional cooperation in South East Europe and in New Independent States. A regional conference for South East Europe was held in Belgrade (Serbia) on November 1 – 2, 2007. One of the main recommendations of this conference was that a regional network on qualifications frameworks should be established. The launching conference for this network was held in Cetinje (Montenegro) on 8-9 July 2008 and was co-organized by the Ministry of Education and Science of Montenegro and the Council of Europe.

The Coordination Group met several times. It highlighted that qualifications frameworks are not static. Rather, they are part of dynamic higher education policies and developments. They need to be developed continuously through constant use as well as constant reflection.

After the overarching Qualifications Framework for the European Higher Education Area (EHEA-QF), had been adopted in 2005, the European Qualifications Frameworks for Lifelong Learning (EQF-LLL) had been developed and was formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council in April 2008. Both are overarching frameworks of qualifications against which national frameworks will be referenced.

The framework of qualifications for the European Higher Education Area - May 2005

The European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning - 2008
Explaining the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning - 2008

Good cooperation has been established between the Council of Europe, as Chair of the Coordination Group, and the European Commission, as the institution providing technical support for the EQF-LLL. The European Commission is a member of the Coordination Group, and the developments with regard to the EQF-LLL have been considered at every meeting of the Coordination Group. At the same time, the Council of Europe is a member of the EQF-LLL Advisory Board. The Council of Europe was also a member of a sub group of the EQF-LLL Advisory Board that looked at referencing of national qualifications levels in relation to the EQF- LLL. The Advisory Board adopted the criteria and procedures, which are compatible with the criteria and procedures for self-certification in relation to the EHEA-QF.

In the course of its work, the Coordination Group has identified a number of issues on which further work is required and which would, in most cases, benefit from further consideration at European level even if the principle of course remains that the competent authorities of each education system are responsible for their own national qualifications framework.

Report on Qualifications Frameworks 2009

Published: 03/10/2007 - Last modified: 20/10/2016
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  • Meeting 1 - Strasbourg 26 November 2007
  • Meeting 2 - Edinburgh 22 February 2008
  • Meeting 3 - Brussels 19-20 May 2008
  • Meeting 4 - Strasbourg 4 September 2008

Bologna Seminars


Coordination Group Chair: Sjur Bergan (Council of Europe).

Participants: Czech Republic, Georgia, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, Turkey, UK/Scotland, Council of Europe, European Commission, ESU, EUA, EURASHE, ENIC/NARIC Network and a representative of the group of ECTS coordinators.