In Latvia the referencing of education system to European Qualifications Framework and the European Higher Education Area Qualification Framework started in 2009.
The whole process was divided into two phases:
- Phase I, 2009-2011: referencing of the existing Latvian education system to European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and European Higher Education Area (EHEA) Qualifications Framework.
- Phase II, 2013-2015: review of the self-assessment report, on the basis of the new Vocational Education Law, Higher Education Law and the results of European Structural Funds’ project “Development of sectoral qualifications system and increasing the efficiency and quality of vocational education” (2010-2013).
One of the most important aims of qualifications framework was setting a united scale of levels for all qualifications - a scale, which is comparable with the qualifications of other countries via EQF. It expands the inhabitants’ opportunities for mobility not only between countries, but, which is more important, between various institutions and education levels. It is facilitated by a process taking place parallel to the qualifications framework – recognition of knowledge and skills acquired outside formal education, which is based upon a simple principle – all knowledge and skills are valuable, irrespective of the way and form of their acquisition.
The referencing procedure covered all education stages and forms, all professional qualification levels, including qualifications acquired through validation of professional competence obtained outside formal education, and craftsman qualifications, and journeyman qualifications. The elaboration of the national qualifications framework was a labour-, time and resource-consuming process, which became apparent through the examination of the experience of other countries, for example, Ireland and the United Kingdom, where this process has been implemented for approximately a decade.
In 2008, Ministry of Education and Science delegated the Academic Information Centre to perform the functions of the National Coordination Point for referencing the national qualifications framework to EQF. The main tasks of NCP were: to refer existing qualification levels in national qualification system to EQF levels stated in the Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the establishment of the EQF for lifelong learning; to prepare Latvian self-assessment report concerning the referencing of Latvia’s education system to EQF for lifelong learning; to arrange discussions and consultation process among stakeholders about the referencing of Latvian education system to EQF for lifelong learning by ensuring access to necessary information for all participants.
In 2009, Ministry of Education and Science established the working group for referencing the Latvia’s education system to EQF, which was chaired by the deputy state secretary on policy issues of the ministry, inviting to the working group all stakeholders – education agencies, education quality assurance agencies, representatives of employers’ and employees’ organizations, students etc.The education level descriptors for general basic and secondary education, vocational basic and secondary education, as well as for vocational education were elaborated. And at higher education level the working group established the education level descriptors for all Bologna cycle qualifications.
When arranging consultation process in Latvia, according to present laws and regulations comparison between EQF levels and Latvian education system was prepared. Also, amendments to the Cabinet of Ministers Regulations of 2 December 2008 No. 990 “Regulations on the classification of Latvian education” were drafted and approved in October 2010. To the table included in these Regulations outlining the Latvian education stages and the respective programmes a new column was added, referencing education programmes to the appropriate EQF level. (See the scheme of the Latvian education system with EQF/LQF levels) All education institutions awarding education documents in Latvia are able to use these Regulations to precisely indicate the relevant EQF level. The inclusion of reference to EQF levels in all education documents in Latvia were introduced during the Phase II of referencing.
In 2016, National Coordination Point has developed Latvian Qualifications Database. Latvian Qualifications Database is a unique information system containing summary of data about qualifications referenced to the Latvian Qualifications Framework and the European Qualifications Framework. Within the context of this Database qualification is understood as a certificate acquired within formal education including information on the awarded degree and/or professional qualification.
The Latvian Qualifications Database is linked to the portal Learning Opportunities and Qualifications – EQF/PLOTEUS – hosted by the European Commission. The EQF/PLOTEUS portal offers opportunity to compare qualification systems and qualifications of various European countries.