In Europe there are different, historically evolved, education systems but also a vast variety of qualifications. As mobility from people in Europe increases, during training periods or within the working live, there was a desire for greater clarity and better comparability.
The European Commission has recommended the EU-Member States to develop National Qualification Frameworks. Each Member State implements its own qualification framework and allocates national qualifications based on the respective learning outcomes regardless of the education areas (from the vocational education, the tertiary education to the Education and Training) to a specific level.
The European Qualification Framework (EQF) is a translation tool which is necessary to reference all national qualifications and to make them comparable.
Efforts to develop the NQF in Austria were pushed ahead based on the 2008 EQF recommendation of the European Parliament and Council. The adoption of the federal law on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF-Act) was an important step towards full implementation of the National Qualifications Framework. The act was adopted by the National Council on 24 February and then by the Federal Council on 10 March. It went into effect on 15 March 2016.
Development of the NQF-Act was within the responsibility of the former Federal Ministry of Education and Women’s Affairs in consultation with the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy (now the joint Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research) and with involving all national stakeholder and interest groups.
The act regulates the mapping of Austrian qualifications based on learning outcomes to one of the eight qualification levels of the National Qualifications Framework and the publication of the results of the mapping process for information purposes in the NQF-Register.
The objective of the NQF-Act is to use the National Qualifications Framework as a tool for encouraging the transparency and comparability of qualifications in Austria and Europe and to promote lifelong learning, which comprises formal, non-formal, and informal learning. The NQF-Act does not decidedly define the mapping of non-formal or informal learning since further process specifications are needed for these.