The Law on National Qualifications Framework was adopted by the Parliament of Montenegro in December 2010. Montenegrin Qualifications Framework (MQF) represents a mechanism for understanding and comparing qualifications.
It is used by learners, employers and the general public to point out to relations between different types and levels of education and progression paths through lifelong learning. The levels within the MQF provide guidelines for recognising the existing qualifications and determining new qualifications in terms of the expected learning outcomes, i.e. knowledge, skills and competences. The focus on learning outcomes, regardless of the knowledge acquisition path, allows for the recognition of non-formal and informal education, in addition to that acquired through formal programmes. This allows people of all ages to acquire qualifications, as well as employers to evaluate the skills of their labour force against standards prescribed for a specific work place.
In terms of the principles, the emphasis is on learning outcomes - which are defined as knowledge, skills and competences, the importance of quality assurance at all stages of development of the Framework, as well as on establishing cooperation among all important stakeholders and creating conditions for credit transfers.
An additional value of the MQF is that it will enable the comparison of Montenegrin qualifications with qualifications acquired abroad, thus promoting the mobility of pupils/students and labour force both in the country and abroad. The Framework includes all formal education qualifications (general education, vocational education and training, and higher education) as well as the system of national professional qualifications which is oriented towards the labour market. The Law defines the principles and the objectives of the MQF, the structure of levels and sub-levels, qualifications types to be included, as well as the management structure.
The main MQF objectives defined by the Law are to:
- clearly define learning outcomes;
- support lifelong learning;
- create links between different subsystems of education and training;
- create clear prospects for progression (vertical and horizontal) within the system of education and training;
- improve international comparability of qualifications;
- ensure quality of qualifications.
In accordance with the Law, a new body, the Council for Qualifications, was appointed. Members of the Council include representatives of ministries, institutions responsible for qualifications development, universities and representatives of employers and trade unions.
The main tasks of the Council include:
- decision-making on entering qualifications into the MQF and their classification;
- proposing new qualifications to institutions in charge of qualification development;
- decision-making on methodology documents for the classifications of qualifications;
- adopting guidelines for sector commissions, etc.
The Council has adopted the following pieces of secondary legislation: Rulebook on procedures for developing qualifications form level one to level five, Rulebook on the procedures for developing qualification from level six to level eight, Rulebook on description of qualification levels and sub-levels, Methodology for classifying qualifications into the MQF, Guidelines for developing qualifications for level one to level five, Methodology for assigning code to qualification, Basis for modularisation and credit validation of vocational educational programmes, Guidelines for the work of sector commissions, Level and sub-level descriptors.
Montenegrin National Qualifications Framework comprises eight levels, which are based on learning outcomes, as well as sub-levels for levels I, IV and VII.
The description of each level comprise three categories: knowledge, skills and competences. Each qualification classified into the Framework must include learning outcomes described through these three description categories and each upper level includes knowledge, skills and competences at the lower level. The level of knowledge, skills and competences moves upward, thus the descriptions on level I represent basic knowledge, skills and competences, whereas, for example, on level VII1, they reflect complex expectations in terms of depth and width of knowledge, skills and competences, including the ability to work independently. Sublevels of levels I, IV and VII reflect the need to facilitate the classification of qualifications acquired through education system prior to adopting the Law on National Qualifications Framework. Descriptions of sublevels within a certain level are similar, but due to the need to address the specific requests of the labour market, sublevels of certain levels had to be introduced.
The first four levels of the Framework include qualifications acquired upon completion of primary and secondary general and vocational education. Qualifications acquired upon completion of post-secondary non-tertiary education, i.e. after completion of vocational non-tertiary education, are set at Level V.
Qualifications acquired upon completion of higher education are at levels six, seven and eight.
Professional qualifications acquired after the assessment of knowledge obtained through non-formal and informal education, are also placed in the Qualifications Framework, in accordance with the established standards and examination catalogues adopted by the National Council. Procedures and competences for validation of previous learning are regulated by the Law on National Professional Qualifications.
The scope of a qualification is defined by the number of credits. A credit is a measuring unit for the validation of work which a learner should put in to achieve the goals; it is used to measure learner’s workload considering the time required to complete i.e. achieve the relevant learning outcomes.
Each qualification in the Montenegrin Qualifications Framework of a certain level is awarded an adequate number of credits. The total number of credits for one qualification is obtained by adding up the total number of credits belonging to units which the qualification is composed of. One credit implies 25 hours of workload for all structural learning activities, including: formal learning (lectures, exercises, etc.); independent work, consultations, etc.; non-formal learning (seminars, courses, trainings, etc.); practical work; assessment.
Understanding the importance of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), the former Ministry of Education initiated activities of developing the Montenegrin Qualifications Framework in 2006, as the first stage of a long process. The second stage, support for the establishment of the Montenegrin Qualification Framework (MQF), began in 2007/08 through activities on the development of the Strategy for the Establishment of the Montenegrin Qualifications Framework (2009-2011). The former Ministry of Education has also earmarked funds within the 2007 Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA 2007), for establishing and developing the Montenegrin Qualifications Framework. These activities also included quality assurance in higher education. The said resources also serve as support for the Act on the National Qualifications Framework. The third stage of development within this process began by adopting the Act on the National Qualifications Framework (2010), and establishing the Council for Qualifications. The system has also been supported through the establishment of sector commissions, as well as Division for Qualifications within the Ministry of Education. The work plan of the Government for 2013 has recognised the obligation of the Ministry of Education to prepare the Report on Referencing the Montenegrin Qualifications Framework (MQF) to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF).
Within the Referencing Report, the comparison of MQF levels EQF levels was done in line with the Recommendations of the European Parliament and the Council on the establishment of EQF for lifelong learning. Data and information in the Report have been procedurally adopted by the National Council for Education, Council for Higher Education and Qualifications Council. The information in the report was described as relevant, transparent, comparable and consistent. The Report was also approved by the Government of Montenegro.
The Referencing Report was prepared by an inter-sector group, with the support of international experts from Austria, Slovenia, Croatia and Estonia.
This Report is a key reporting document on the conducted process of referencing the Montenegrin Qualifications Framework (MQF) to the EQF for lifelong learning and the Qualifications Frameworks in the European Higher Education Area (QF-EHEA). It includes an in-depth comparison of qualification levels attained in Montenegro with levels from the European Qualifications Framework, with a view to ensuring the recognisability of qualifications and improvement of mobility within the broader European area. The referencing process is conducted according to the criteria and procedures set by EQF Advisory Group (EQF AG), through the methodological guidelines for carrying out the process for comparing and referencing national frameworks to the EQF. The process of self-certification against the QF-EHEA was conducted according to the criteria passed within the Bologna process.
The level descriptors comparable with the Dublin ones have been allocated to each level and sub-level according to the principles of knowledge, skills and competences provided by qualifications of a certain level. Qualifications have been placed at adequate levels in line with the defined learning outcomes. MQF includes three types of qualifications: educational, professional and additional qualifications. Educational qualifications are those attained upon completion of a publicly recognized educational or study programme, professional qualifications are attained upon the assessment of non-formal and informal learning or upon the completion of a special educational programme. Additional qualifications are those obtained after acquiring a basic qualification. These qualifications do not increase the level of the basic qualification, but supplement it and present additional competences of an individual required to be included in the labour market. They represent an addition for inclusion in the labour market and are most often required by employer.
The results of referencing MQF to EQF levels demonstrate a clear connection between the two frameworks, as follows:
- MQF I level (I1 and I2) as EQF I
- MQF II level as EQF II
- MQF III level as EQF III
- MQF IV level (IV1 and IV2) as EQF IV
- MQF V level as EQF V
- MQF VI level as EQF VI
- MQF VII level (VII1 and VII2) as EQF VII
- MQF VIII level as EQF VIII
The Report also includes the self-certification to the QF-EHEA. The results of self-certification point out to comparability of three MQF levels (VI-VIII) with the respective QF-EHEA levels.
Montenegrin EQF NCP keeps the qualifications register as well. Montenegro presented the situation concerning the MQF development in the 25th meeting of Advisory Group in June 2014. At the 26th meeting of the Advisory Group held in October 2014, the final Referencing Report was presented. Montenegro was commended for achieving a significant success in the implementation of a large number of activities concerning the development of the MQF. The conclusion of the group was that the Report can be adopted in the form in which it had been submitted, with a more detailed clarification of two issues: the manner of placing qualifications within the Framework and Framework management. These two issues were thoroughly elaborated in the 27th AG meeting held on 6 November 2014, and the Montenegrin Referencing Report was adopted.
The Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports is a European Qualifications Framework National Coordination Point (EQF NCP).
Within the “Support to the European Qualifications Framework in Montenegro for 2016” project of the EU Erasmus + Programme, implemented by the former Ministry of Education, the “National Qualifications Framework in Montenegro” Manual was prepared, as well as a video on the National Qualifications Framework in Montenegro. The video is devoted to different target groups and contains basic information about the National Qualifications Framework, harmonization of the National Qualifications Framework with the European Qualifications Framework, as well as the usefulness of the framework for individuals, employers and educational institutions. Also, with the support of the EU Erasmus + Programme, Europass project has been implemented. Through this project the “Guide to the Europass” as well as the Europass web-portal have been prepared.
In 2021, in accordance with the previously prepared plan, 87 documents were developed and adopted, in accordance with the principles of the National Qualifications Framework:
- 32 vocational qualifications standards (adopted by the Qualifications Council);
- 12 qualifications of the level of education standards (adopted by the Qualifications Council);
- 12 education programmes (adopted by the National Education Council).
In the fourth quarter of 2021, 20 examination catalogues were developed in order to test non-formally and informally acquired knowledge and the acquisition of the national vocational qualifications.
In 2022, the Qualifications Council adopted:
- 11 occupation standards in the Sector of qualifications for Engineering and Processing technologies, the subsector of Mechanical Engineering;
- 6 occupation standards in the Sector of qualifications for mining, metalurgy and chemical industry, the subsector of Graphics Technologies;
- 4 occupation standards in the Sector of qualifications for mining, metalurgy and chemical industry, the subsector of Metalurgy.
The occupation standards are basis for the development of modularized education programmes in vocational education, based on learning outcomes.