National Framework of Qualifications

 

The Irish National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) is a 10-level system used to describe qualifications in the Irish education and training system.

NFQ Fan 2021

The NFQ describes what learners need to know, understand and be able to do to achieve a qualification. It also sets out qualifications’ pathways from one NFQ level to the next. 

The NFQ allows you to compare qualifications to make decisions about your choice of programme or course, knowing that it will be recognised at home and abroad.

All qualifications included on the NFQ will be listed in the Irish Register of Qualifications. If your qualification is not Irish, NARIC Ireland, the National Academic Recognition Information Centre, will help you find out how your qualification is understood in Ireland.

Who does the NFQ help?

  • Learners

    It provides a pathway for progression through education and training.

  • Individuals

    It provides an understanding of a qualification and can help individuals compare qualifications.

  • Employers

    It provides a resource for employers to learn more about the qualifications their employees have obtained.  The levels are also used as a recruitment tool.

  • Education & Training providers

    It provides for clear identification of qualifications achieved by applicants which helps with credit transfer between programmes and accessing new or additional programmes by the recognition of prior learning.

NFQ Awards Standards

QQI oversees the promotion, development, maintenance, and review of the NFQ as a system of levels for relating different qualifications or awards to one another.

These levels are general indicators of a person’s knowledge, skill and competence; or the standards that they have attained for their learning achievements.

NFQ award-type descriptors state general learning achievements for all types of awards recognised on the NFQ. QQI issues NFQ guidelines to providers to support the interpretation and implementation of the NFQ and its award-type descriptors in their programme development.  

We also set awards standards for our own QQI awards and for providers who have been given authority to make their own awards.

Comparing your qualifications internationally

The NFQ is aligned with the European Qualification Framework and the Qualifications Framework of the European Higher Education Area. Alignment with these two frameworks makes it easier for you to compare qualifications across Europe. The 2020 Referencing Report tells you about how the design and implementation of the NFQ is consistent with European expectations and standards.

The European Qualifications Framework (EQF) supports mobility within the EU by allowing qualifications gained in any European country to be classified and organised into an eight-level system.  

Qualifications that are included within the Irish NFQ can use an EQF level. Visit the Irish Register of Qualifications for more information.

EU member states and another 11 countries are working towards the implementation of the EQF. The 11 countries are Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway (European Economic Area countries), Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey (candidate countries), Bosnia & Herzegovina and Kosovo (potential candidates) and Switzerland.

EQF Benefits

  • It enables learners, learning providers and employers to compare qualifications between different countries’ national qualifications systems
  • It provides transparency on the type of qualifications offered
  • It ensures portability as qualifications are easily translated and understandable across borders

The QF-EHEA, commonly known as Bologna Framework, is based on a three-cycle system (bachelor, master and doctorate). It is focused on Higher Education.

The framework includes 49 member states. 

Benefits of the framework

  • Trust in the standard of education provided
  • Help with cross-border academic cooperation
  • Mutual recognition of study periods and qualifications earned abroad
  • Improved quality and relevance of learning and teaching
  • Clear adherence to credits based on meeting learning outcomes

NFQ

EQF

QF-EHEA

1

1

 

2

1

 

3

2

 

4

3

 

5

4

 

6

5

Short Cycle

7

6

First Cycle

8

6

First Cycle

9

7

Second Cycle

10

8

Third Cycle

 

 

 

The qualifications authorities in the UK and Ireland have agreed the correspondence between qualifications frameworks in operation across the five jurisdictions. 

A joint publication, Qualifications Can Cross Boundaries, indicates the level of a UK qualification within the Irish NFQ. There is regular mobility of learners and workers across the UK and Ireland. A clear comparison and understanding of qualifications ensures an easier transition for learners and workers between the two countries.