Skip to main content
European Commission logo
EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
National qualifications framework


2.Organisation and governance

2.5National qualifications framework

Last update: 27 November 2023



The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands commissioned the development of the Dutch Qualifications Framework (NLQF) which was constructed in close cooperation with experts and stakeholders in the field of education and training. The National Coordination Point NLQF (NCP) is an independent body which is responsible for the development and implementation of the NLQF.

The Dutch Qualifications Framework (NLQF) is a way of describing Dutch qualification levels. It is a systematic organisation of all existing qualification levels in The Netherlands, from Level 1 basic education to the Master’s degree at level 7 and a Doctorate's degree at level 8. Qualifications are classified in NLQF levels and are given a level indication.



The NLQF aims to facilitate students and labour market mobility by providing an insight into the levels of qualifications recorded by the National Coordination Point NLQF in the NCP register. The NLQF provides transparency in that it facilitates a comparison of qualification levels nationally and internationally, for example for labour market mobility.

The NLQF also has a function in the continuing development of individuals and organisations. This is also called life-long learning. 

The NCP records Government-regulated qualifications (The qualifications of the Ministries of Education Culture and Sciences; and Economic Affairs; Food and Natural and Living Environment) in the National Coordination Point (NCP) Register of qualifications. All other qualifications are first assessed and level-determined by the NCP and then recorded in the Register.

The Dutch Qualifications Framework offers providers of qualifications which are not regulated by the Government the possibility of having such training programmes and qualifications classified at a level of the NLQF. Procedures and criteria for this process are in place.


Target group

NLQF for the education and training provider

What is the value of NLQF for you as an education and training provider? NLFQ provides education and training providers with a tool that enables them to:

  • compare levels of qualifications in terms of learning outcomes
  • think in terms of learning outcomes as building blocks for qualifications
  • communicate more easily with the labour market and create a better match between education and training programmes and labour market needs.

Providers offering Government-regulated qualifications* can request a review of the level at which they were generically classified at the outset when the NLQF was established. Currently, review requests are only possible for Vocational Education and Training (VET) Level 4. Providers of qualifications which are not Government-regulated may request a classification into one of the levels of the NLQF and, thus, be also referenced to an EQF level.

NLQF for the student

What is the value of NLQF for students? NLFQ provides students with a tool that enables them to:

  • get a clear picture of your current position in terms of education and training levels you have achieved thus far
  • compare the levels of Dutch qualifications more easily
  • make a more informed choice as a result of this insight
  • plan your further education and training more easily.

You can find more information on the English Leaflet of NLQF.

NLQF for the employee

What is the value of NLQF for an employee? NLQF is the Dutch Qualifications Framework which shows the value of Dutch qualifications and education and training programmes compared to one another and, through its being referenced to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF), compared to those elsewhere in Europe. It was not possible to make these comparisons before the emergence of NLQF, national qualifications frameworks in other countries and the EQF. Using these tools employees are now able to:

  • identify what training programmes are available at what levels throughout Europe
  • compare an education or training programme you may be following with other such programmes in The Netherland and / or in other European countries
  • compare the levels of education and training programmes offered by, for example, a VET college, a University of Applied Science or a University in The Netherlands and / or abroad
  • make a more informed choice of an education or training programme in The Netherlands or in another European country
  • decrease the investment in education and training.

NLQF for the employer

What is the value of NLQF for an employer?

NLQF provides employers with a tool that enables them to:

  • clarify the NLQF level required to fill job vacancies in terms of learning outcomes, thus facilitating staff recruitment;
  • establish staff training programmes and track the occupational and personal development of individual staff;
  • get an insight into current qualifications levels and their relationship, nationally and internationally, thus facilitating labour mobility.

In effect an employer can use NLQF to compare the level of qualifications or training in the Netherlands. But NLQF offers more. Because NLQF is referenced to the EQF (European Qualifications Framework) it enables employers to establish the equivalent qualification level in The Netherlands of a foreign or European qualification.

Above information is gathered from: NLQF



NLQF levels

The Dutch National Qualifications Framework (NLQF) [Nederlands kwalificatieraamwerk] consists of eight levels and one entry level. Click on ‘description’ below for the descriptions of each level.

The levels are based on descriptions of what someone knows and is able to do after completion of a learning process, regardless of where and, to an extent, in what timeframe this took place. These descriptions of the levels of knowledge, skills, autonomy and responsibility are referred to as learning outcomes. Higher general secondary education (Havo), for example, is classified at NLQF Level 4 and Master programmes at NLQF Level 7.

  • Entry Level Basic Education 1 (for adults)
  • NLQF Level 1 Basic Education 2 (for adults); pre-vocational secondary education - basic vocational pathway (vmbo bb); VET level 1 (MBO1)
  • NLQF Level 2 Basic Education 3 (for adults); pre-vocational secondary education - advanced vocational pathway (vmbo kb); pre-vocational secondary education - combined theoretical pathway (vmbo gl); pre-vocational secondary education - theoretical pathway (vmbo tl; VET level 2 (MBO2)
  • NLQF Level 3 VET level 3 (MBO 3)
  • NLQF Level 4 VET level 4 (MBO 4); Higher general secondary education (Havo); higher general secondary education for adults (Vavo-Havo)
  • NLQF Level 4+ Pre-university educations (Vwo); pre-university education for adults (Vavo-vwo)
  • NLQF Level 5 Associate Degree
  • NLQF Level 6 Bachelor Degree
  • NLQF Level 7 Master Degree
  • NLQF Level 8 Doctorate; Designer; Medical specialist


Development of NLQF – from EQF

The classification of formal qualifications into one of the levels of the NLQF and referencing to the EQF took place under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education Culture and Science. In 2011 the NLQF and the referencing to the EQF was send to the Dutch Parliament.

The referencing to EQF by the EQF Advisory group of the European Commission was approved in January 2012.

The NLQF is referenced to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF). EQF aims to enable qualifications from different countries within Europe to be compared by means of a single reference framework to which they are all referenced. EQF will contribute to greater transparency in the education systems of EU countries, thereby increasing the international mobility of individuals. Currently 36 European countries are contributing to the implementation of the EQF by linking their own national qualifications frameworks to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF).

In the Netherlands the 17 Ministry-regulated qualifications were related to the eight levels (plus Entry Level) of the NLQF. This was achieved by working with experts from the different educational sectors and the main stakeholders (including social partners) in education and by consultation with a wider public, including providers of education and training. The NLQF has been operational since 2011; this means that, since then, it is possible for non-formal qualifications to apply for a classification into the EQF/NLQF. Procedures for quality assurance have been developed in order to back-up the classification of non-formal qualifications.


National Coordination Point the Netherlands

The National Coordination Point (NCP) NLQF has various tasks which are intended to support the target groups: employers, employees, students and training providers.

Primarily, the NCP has the task of classifying non-formal qualifications in an NLQF level so that they become comparable with the levels of formal qualifications. The second task of the NCP is communicating with and providing information to the NLQF’s target groups. The NCP is doing this by organising meetings and workshops, and disseminating newsletters and explanatory folders and brochures, among other things.

The Programme Council and the Quality and Classification Commissions of the NCP are also involved in classifying non-formal qualifications. The NCP NLQF has fallen under the Netherlands Partnership of Life Long Learning (Nederlands Partnerschap Leven Lang Leren) since 2014.

Please click here for more information.

Source of all above information: NLQF/EN