European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning

The European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning (EQF-LLL, often referred to simply as EQF) is the basis for Switzerland’s own ‘National Qualifications Framework for Vocational and Professional Qualifications (NQF VPQ)’ as well as for corresponding NQFs in other European countries. It serves as a frame of reference and enables comparison of Swiss qualifications with those of other European countries and vice versa.

The EQF-LLL was developed by the European Union. It is based on the Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2008 on the establishment of the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning.

The EQF-LLL is comprised of eight reference levels. Each of these eight levels is defined by a set of descriptors indicating the learning outcomes for qualifications at the given level in any system of qualifications. Learning outcomes are defined in terms of ‘Knowledge’, ‘Skills’ and ‘Competence’. The latter is understood as the ability to take responsibility and to work independently. Many European countries have used the EQF-LLL as the basis for development of their own NQFs. An up-to-date overview can be found on the EQF-LLL website.

In order to enable comparison of qualifications referenced to different NQFs (i.e. because not all NQFs have the same number of reference levels), each NQF is referenced to the EQF-LLL. Here, European countries use pre-established criteria to determine which NQF reference level corresponds to which EQF reference level. This mapping of national qualification frameworks to the European one is facilitated by a document referred to as an EQF referencing report, which is presented to the EU’s EQF Advisory Group.

Switzerland successfully completed the process of referencing its NQF VPQ to the EQF-LLL when it presented its EQF Referencing Report in 2015. The eight levels of the NQF VPQ are perfectly aligned with all eight levels of the EQF-LLL. Therefore, the NQF VPQ reference level indicated in each certificate supplement for upper-secondary level vocational qualifications and each diploma supplement for tertiary-level professional qualifications matches to the corresponding level in the EQF-LLL.

Further information


SERI, Sandra Müller

Project manager

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