Partners Conference: Exploring the Challenges of Permeability: EQF-5 and Higher Level

On 9-10 December 2019, will take place the Conference Exploring the Challenges of Permeability: EQF-5 and Higher Level. Paving the way for flexible learning pathways and the role of the labour market in Malta. This Conference is co-organised by EfVET and CHAIN 5 and it will be host by EfVET Member, MCAST (Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology). The organization of the conference is made possible by having the strong support of the Ministry of Education and Employment (MEDE) in Malta.

This interactive conference will focus on constructing flexible learning pathways through Levels 5 and higher of the EQF. To fulfil this objective, there will be an analysis of different contributions from multiple education sectors that can lead to creating bridges between them, possibly with the use of agreements between institutions, shaping progression routes and through better use of ‘recognition of prior learning’.


Flexibility, permeability and relevance remain the core principles driving the developments of higher education in a dynamic and fluid labour market. This international conference aims at exploring good practices as well as concrete and realistic possibilities for flexible learning pathways, integrating qualifications within the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) with qualifications from the Vocational-Professional Education and Training (VPET) sector.

The EHEA promotes a 4-tier structure – short cycle, 1st cycle, 2nd cycle and 3rd cycle qualifications. On the other hand, the VPET sector is more commonly reflected informal programmes, offered at Levels 5 and higher of the European Qualifications Framework.

The conference also intends to explore the centrality of the short cycle/EQF Level 5 for the promotion and possibility of more national education systems having support structures and provisions for permeability, progression routes, flexible bridging programmes. High-quality work-based learning could contribute to the relevance of both the EHEA and the VPET qualifications. This is also a good opportunity for countries to share their experiences and good practices on clear strategies already in place.

At the end of the conference, some decisions will be taken on further cooperation between the stakeholders involved (organizations and associations), to initiate a process with a view on shaping flexible learning pathways at a national level. In this context, consideration will also be given to how this can be supported at European level, involving experts and European networks.

Who will be there…

  • Representatives from a government (Ministry), involved in the developments related to the Bologna Process, so the European Higher Education Area
  • Likewise, but then involved in qualifications at levels 5 and higher (of the EQF), building on the VET sector (also called Vocational-Professional Education)
  • Being involved in the implementation of a National Qualifications Framework (NQF)
  • Working for an accreditation body, responsible for HE, VET/VPE and/or all other combinations
  • Employed by an organization that provides a range of non-formal education (personal-business training), from the professional field, a professional body, a branch association
  • Member of a European organization for Higher Education, VET, Higher VET and so on (public-funded / private / not-for-profit)
  • Staff members of an institution that offers training programmes and qualifications at level 5 and higher
  • Manager of a so-called Level 5 College (mainly offering level 5 programmes)
  • Consultants, experts, involved in designing flexible learning pathways by using qualifications from various sectors (HE, VET / VPE, Business Training)

If you are are interested in the overall theme and the related topics and developments, you are welcome to contribute to this conference, to initiate a ‘Malta Process’ for the entire area in which qualifications can be positioned at the tertiary level.


It will be the first time that this important topic will be discussed at such a conference, with the input of our partners and other organizations that will be asked to contribute to the programme.

In view of the discussion that will be held about the possible learning pathways combining qualifications from both systems, the following correlated topics can be considered:

  • Use of a structure with parallel systems, aligned and linked to the EQF levels 5 and higher – and the role of the EQF in ‘the center’ of the sectors for tertiary education (HE, VET/VPE and Personal and Business Training)
  • Access to those sectors, looking at the possibilities for shaping flexible learning pathways with ‘no dead ends’
  • Role of the institutions, offering those qualifications, in this all
  • Role of the labour marketprofessional bodies, (national) branches and (regional) employers’ organisations in providing non-formal education and the use of them for completing a formal programme·
  • Instruments that can be helpful for facilitating flexible learning pathways
  • Permeability and transfer, using credits and recognition of prior learning
  • Quality of flexible learning pathways
  • Integration  of work-based learning within qualifications offered by both sectors
  • Possibilities for international cooperation, at all levels
  • Use and application of National Qualification Frameworks referenced to the EQF and the EHEA.

If you have already questions about the conference and the theme, or if you want to make a contribution, you can send them to

For further information, please download the second newsletter here.

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