EQF - European Qualifications Framework

Last update : 16.06.2023

General information

The purpose of the EQF - the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning - is to establish equivalences between the qualifications systems of different countries by comparing them with a common European reference framework.

Both individuals and employers can use the EQF to better understand and compare the levels of qualifications in different countries and education and training systems.

The EQF was set up in 2008; it was revised in 2017, and, retaining its fundamental aims of transparency and mutual trust in the various types of qualifications in Europe, it aims to support cross-border mobility for learners and workers, and promote lifelong learning and professional development throughout Europe.

Reference levels

The EQF is a framework based on learning outcomes for all types of qualifications, serving as a tool for translating qualifications in the various national frameworks. It helps to improve transparency, comparability and the transferability of qualifications by making it possible to compare the qualifications issued by different countries and institutions.

It includes 8 reference levels that describe a learner's knowledge, skills, responsibility and autonomy – these are referred to as "learning outcomes".

Concentrating on the learning outcomes:

  • promotes a better balance between the needs of the labour market (in terms of knowledge, skills, responsibility and autonomy) and the education and training delivered
  • facilitates the validation of non-formal and informal training and education
  • facilitates the transfer and use of qualifications in countries with different education and training systems.

The member States are invited to list their national frameworks and systems with reference to the EQF in order to establish a clear, transparent relationship between their national levels of qualifications and the eight levels of the EQF, from the basic Level 1 up to the advanced Level 8.

The EQF applies to all types of education, training and qualification, including school, university and vocational training. It also encourages lifelong learning by promoting the validation of non-formal and informal learning.