National Qualifications Frameworks: What can be learnt from the International experience? David Raffe
Summary: This article asks how countries considering the introduction of a National Qualifications Framework (NQF) can use cross-national research on NQFs to inform their deliberations. It proposes a model of policy learning that uses international experience in a broad range of ways to inform country-specific policy debates, rather than a policy borrowing approach that scans this experience for unique and transferable models of best practice. As more and more countries introduce NQFs, the knowledge base on their design, implementation, and impacts is slowly improving, although it is still inadequate and the causal processes involved are complex and often difficult to unravel. This paper presents six “stylised facts” or broad generalisations from the international experience, and discusses some of their implications and the issues that they raise, such as: that qualifications, and therefore NQFs, are social and political constructs; that NQFs are multi-purpose tools; that NQFs differ; that most comprehensive NQFs are multi-level entities; that an NQF may involve diverse change processes; and that an NQF is not the only policy instrument available.