Qualification frameworks offer an overview of the various diplomas and degrees available within the higher education system. They describe the learning outcomes (knowledge and skills) for each of these qualifications. This facilitates the qualification accreditation process, allowing students and job seekers to transition more rapidly to suitable study programmes and jobs.

National framework of qualifications

As a part of the effort to develop a national framework of qualifications (in the Netherlands: NLQF), each specific qualification is classified under 1 of 8 levels. Students may attain these qualifications at regular secondary, higher, professional or adult education institutions, our outside of the regular education system.

Once an individual country has classified its qualifications under a national framework, the European Commission will then assess this framework and allow for it to be linked to the overarching EQF. This referencing process is an important step that allows for comparison between the qualification levels of different countries.

The Netherlands applies 2 qualification frameworks:

  • the Dutch Qualifications Framework (NLQF), describing educational qualifications at 8 levels;
  • the Dutch Higher Education Qualifications Framework, describing higher education in 3 stages.

Dutch Qualifications Framework (NLQF)

The NLQF is based on the overarching European Qualifications Framework (EQF). The overarching EQF specifies the specific knowledge, skills, degree of independence and responsibility associated with each of the 8 levels, rather than individual qualifications. The Dutch Qualifications Framework (NLQF) comprises 8 qualification levels and 1 entry level.

National Coordination Point

The NLQF has been officially linked to the EQF since 2012, at which point the Netherlands also introduced a National Coordination Point (NCP) charged with classifying qualifications under the NLQF system. The National Coordination Point assesses the NLQF level (according to a set procedure), especially for diplomas that have been obtained outside mainstream education. The NLQF's official English name is Dutch Qualifications Framework.

Further information on the NLQF can be found on the NCP NLQF website. This includes an overview of interfaces between the NLQF and EQF.

Dutch Higher Education Qualifications Framework

The Dutch Higher Education Qualifications Framework is based on the Overarching Frameworks for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area (QF-EHEA), developed as a part of the Bologna process. This overarching framework describes qualifications attained during the 3 higher education stages in the following terms:

  • learning outcomes (knowledge, skills and competences);
  • the number of ECTS (with the exception of the PDEng/PhD).

The Dutch Higher Education Qualifications Framework consists of 3 stages:

  • bachelor's
  • master's
  • PhD

These 3 stages correspond with EQF levels 6, 7 and 8.

In May 2018, the Ministers of Education of the EHEA countries decided that short-cycle qualifications (such as the associate degree) would be added to the QF-EHEA framework.