Draft Summary of the EF Advisory Group Meeting in Brussels

29-30 May 2013

Relevant developments in European cooperation in the field of education and training
· Contacts from UNESCO to the Commission to explore how the experience gained during the development and implementation of the EQF could be shared with global consortia of countries. It was agreed that a small number of UNESCO representatives could attend the AG September meeting as observers and identify future developments in this area.
· The Council of Europe presented the final draft of the subsidiary text on the use of qualifications frameworks to the Lisbon Recognition Convention (LRC) on the recognition of academic qualifications in higher education. The draft text has been submitted for comments to national authorities and will be discussed in the meeting of the Lisbon Convention Committee in June 2013.

Events on the validation of NFIL Youth sector – conference in Bonn end of April – challenges to HE and Youth sector on the recognition of Non-Formal and Informal Learning
· Promotion of citizenship and intercultural learning
· Ad-hoc Bologna Working group refleced the state of on-going work on Learning Outcomes and recognition of prior learning.
· New Guide to serve needs of a broad range of stakeholders
· Ad hoc Group explore ways to work towards long-term goals of automatic academic recognition of comparable degrees
· Quality Assurance progress report progress in the the field of QA in HE since 2009
Compliance not enough – aim to improve QA and achieve excellence in diversified
Structures and systems
· U Multirank Project – new ranking structure for Universities. More realistic and user-friendly guide.
· High level Group on the Modernisation of Higher Education – inform policy-making on key HE issues.
· Communication on Internationalisation of HE – new communication 26 June 2013
“European higher education in the world”
· Conference planned for October 2013 Link between ECTS and EQF
Referencing of NQFs to EQF
Currently 16 states have successfully developed a National Qualification Framework and referenced them to the EQF.
Belgium and Cyprus are due to present their reports at the next AG meeting in September 2013.
It is possible that EL, ES, FI, RO IS and TK will be ready to present their reports at the AG December meeting.
5 states (HU, MK, NO, SK, SE) admitted that they would not be ready until early 2014.

POLAND submitted the Polish Referencing Report to the AG and subject to some amendments and clarifications this would be formally accepted at the next AG meeting in September. The principal outstanding issue is that of the referencing of “partial qualifications” to the EQF. Many members of the group expressed some concern at including these partial qualifications in the EQF. This issue is to be re-considered.
ITALY also submitted the Italian Referencing Report. This reflected the structure Autonomous Regions’ responsibility for Education and Training, whereby each of these regions conformed to the National criteria. There were some issues raised by the peer evaluators and these would be addressed and the report re-submitted to the next meeting of the Advisory Group in Setember 2013.
SLOVENIA also presented the Slovenian Referencing Report. Again there were issued raised which would be addressed and the report re-submitted.
Relating International Qualifications to the EQF
It was reported that the originally proposed method of referencing International qualifications to the EQF should always be effected by referencing first to each National Qualification Framework. Not all States had thus far developed a NQF so this method could not yet be universally applied. In tfhe meantime a number of international qualifications had been matched to the EQF Learning Outcome philosphy but by the individual qualification authorities themselves without referring to the EQF Advisory Group or the European Commission. In consequence there was no guarantee of quality or “accurate” referencing of levels. It was decided to discuss this issue at a future AG meeting and decide whether or not the AG had sufficient time and resources to undertake proper evaluation of the plethora of international qualifications requiring referencing to the EQF.
Evaluation of the Implementation of the EQF
The results of surveys showed that EQF was relevant in promoting Lifelong Learning and mobility and the transparency of qualificiations. The legal basis as a recommendation was suffiecient to generate voluntary engagement for its implementation by Member States. Also relevant are the principles and structural elements – Learning Outcomes, Qualification Levels and the 8 Level descriptors.
The Coherence of the EQF with other instruments and policies was apparent – the EHEA Qualification Framework, EQAVET, ECVET, ECTS, ESCO and the Validation of Non-Formal and Informal Learning.
There is, however, a lack of coherence with the Lisbon Recognition Convention, in which subsidiary texts refer to learning outcomes and there is a new text on the use of Qualification Frameworks in recognition processes, with the potential to increase synergies in the implementation among ENIC/NARICS. So far there has been little cooperation at national level between NARICs and the EQF National Coordination Points (NCPs).

Regarding the Effectiveness of the EQF Milestones, few target deadline dates have been met. It was intended that all countries should carry out a referencing process and present a referencing report. Countries that have refernced to the EQF should inform the AG about follow-up of AG’s comments and revise referencing reports when the national system changes. In order to increase transparency more consistent national approaches should be developed. – contextual analysis and linguistic comparability of descriptors, social consultation and results of pilot projects, involvement of international experts and peer groups, good practice from other countries. The comprehensive involvement of stakeholders varies enormously. There is no overall quantifiable research data on the implementation of the learning outcomes approach. The NQF development and implementation has generated discussions on learning outcomes and encouraged significant work to define qualifications and standards in learning outcomes at national level. States are working towards building learning outcomes into assessment, but there fewer data on how learning outcomes are used in teaching learning. More qualitative and quantitative data is required. On the Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning, the EQF inspires the development and implementation of validation policies. There are plans to link VNFIL to the National Frameworks with objective learning outcomes-based reference levels, thus increasing confidence in validation. As yet, there is no visible impact on practical implementation.
To ensure Sustainability, the role of the EQF Advisory Group, hitherto very effective at EU level coordination, must expand its guidance function, encourage more exchanges on learning outcomes and content of qualifications at regional and European level (Nordic countries, German-speaking countries, cross-border cooperation etc).
The AG should work more closely with Member States’ national agencies and EU agencies hosted by Member States to ensure that EQF developments are communicated to all stakeholders.
Recommendation on the validation of non-formal and informal learning
A revised mandate of the EQF Advisory Group was presented to the meeting which proposed that the membership should be increased to two experts per country attending each meeting as core members and one alternate member. This composition of the national delegations to the EQF AG would give the necessary flexibility to each delegation to determine its attendance for specific agenda items, but also allow each country to call upon specific expertise in the area of validation of non-formal and informal learning.

Geoff Scaplehorn
Delegate for EUCIS-LLL

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