Qualifications and comparability in the European education area
Since education systems and qualifications in Europe differ between the different countries the European Commission wanted to facilitate understandability and transparency between the different education systems. The Commission also promotes the development of transparency tools in vocational education and training and further education. Tools such as ECVET, Europass or the European and National Qualifications Frameworks are to support European-wide mobility of learners and improve the comparability of educational offers in Europe.
Austria has, just like other European countries, developed a National Qualifications Framework (NQF). The aim of the NQF is to assign a specific level to qualifications in vocational education and training, general education, higher education, and education and training and further education according to the learning outcomes. In this way it will be possible in the future to compare Austrian qualifications with qualifications from other European countries.
In Austria the National Coordination Point is responsible for assigning these levels according to the NQF Act of 2016. This Coordination Point is located at the OeAD as a central administration, coordination and information point. General information regarding the national NQF developments as well as qualifications that have already been assigned a level is available at www.qualifikationsregister.at.
ECVET stands for "European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training". The credit system for vocational education and training and further education is based on a structured description of a qualification in "units of learning outcomes". Learning outcomes are defined as knowledge, skills and abilities.
The ECVET Contact Point at the National Agency Erasmus+ Education acts as central contact point for first information about ECVET. It also coordinates the activities of the eight national ECVET experts.
Filling the Bologna Process with life – the Bologna Service Point at the OeAD provides information and support
48 countries in Europe are currently working at adjusting their recognition system in such a way that e.g. students can study abroad for a certain period of time without losing time. The basis for this is the willingness of all higher education institutions to learn from each other, to trust each other and to make allowance for the cultural variety of the education systems. The aim of this is European-wide harmonisation just like an orchestra consisting of many different instruments.
This is what the Austrian Bologna Service Point at the OeAD does:
- Together with the Bologna Contact Point of the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy (BMWFW) it accompanies the further development of the Bologna Process in Austria and abroad.
- It receives matters of concern and suggestions for improvement of the Bologna Process from the Austrian higher education institutions and the Student Union (ÖH) and passes them on for processing to e.g. the national experts for the European higher education area, to the relevant ministry departments or the academic recognition office (ENIC NARIC Austria).
- It communicates via the Austrian Bologna coordinators nominated at the higher education institutions via newsletter examples of good practice that can be implemented quickly. Examples: questions regarding recognition (How does ECTS work?) or tips for how to remove mobility obstacles in studying.
- Via trainings, events and social media the Bologna Service Point provides a discussion platform for dialogue between the higher education institutions and the representations of interests that are dealing with the Bologna Process on the national level. The results are integrated into national recommendations or laws.