What is a National Qualifications Framework? Considerations from a Study of National Qualifications Frameworks from 16 countries Stephanie Allais
Summary: Qualifications frameworks are gaining prominence internationally as reform tools with a wide range of ambitious goals. Over 100 countries are said to be involved in national or regional frameworks. But what is an NQF? Are all these countries introducing a similar reform mechanism, or do NQFs vary significantly across different contexts? This paper draws on a study that compared qualifications frameworks in 16 countries in an attempt to gain insights into how NQFs are understood, and how they are being designed and implemented in different countries. It suggests that different countries use the term NQF to describe rather different reforms, with divergence in the legal status of frameworks, the institutions surrounding them or introduced to implement them, and whether the framework is intended to organize or change educational practices. Nonetheless, partly because of policy borrowing, some NQFs look rather similar to each other, particularly where outcomes-based qualifications are a key feature of the framework.