The Law on the National Qualifications Framework of the Republic of Serbia was adopted in April 2018. It established an integrated qualifications framework for all levels and types of qualifications that can be attained through formal and non-formal education and informal learning.
The basic principles of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) in accordance with the law are:
- Lifelong learning
- Equal opportunities
- Partnership and cooperation
- Quality assurance
- Comparability - with the European Qualifications Framework
As defined by the Law, the objectives of the NQF are:
- Ensuring comprehensibility, clarity and transparency of qualifications, as well as their interconnection;
- Development of qualifications standards based on the labor market needs and society at large;
- Ensuring learning outcome-oriented education; competences are based on learning outcomes and defined by qualification standard;
- Improving access, flexibility of paths and mobility within the systems of formal and non-formal education;
- Ensuring identification and recognition of non-formal and informal learning;
- Increasing importance of key, general and cross-curricular competences for lifelong learning;
- Improving cooperation among relevant stakeholders i.e. social partners;
- Guaranteeing the quality assurance system in the process of developing and acquiring qualifications;
- Ensuring the comparability and recognition of qualifications acquired in the Republic of Serbia with qualifications obtained in other countries.
The Law establishes a classification system that is in line with the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED 13-F).
The NQF website site, was established in 2017. It has a database of qualifications that is continuously updated. In accordance with the Law, the qualifications are divided into 8 levels and 4 sub-levels:
- From the first to the fifth level - vocational education and training
- From the sixth to the eighth level - higher education
Following the adoption of the Law, the National Qualifications Framework Council has been established as an advisory body that provides recommendations on the process of human resource planning and development in accordance with public policies in the field of lifelong learning, employment, career guidance and counseling. The Agency for Qualifications is expected to be established in the forthcoming period as the body responsible for carrying out quality assurance and providing expert support to the Council and other relevant organizations in all aspects of the development and implementation of the NQF, as well as the establishment of Sectoral Councils. Sectoral councils are professional and advisory bodies founded on the principle of social partnership on the proposal of the National Qualifications Framework Council.
The linking (referencing) of the NQF with the European Qualifications Framework is an official process that will be implemented during the accession to the European Union.
The development of NQF in Serbia was implemented in several phases. In 2010, the National Council for Higher Education adopted a proposal for higher education qualifications framework. The National Qualifications Framework in Serbia - National Qualifications System Levels I–V was developed in 2013. At the beginning of 2015, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development established an Expert Team for the Development of the Integrated National Qualifications Framework in Serbia, that started its activities taking into account existing proposals for the levels of vocational education and training (from 1 to 5) and higher education (from 6 to 8). Beside the qualifications framework, The List of Qualifications of the Republic of Serbia published in 2020 is one of the most relevant documents. For the purposes of forming the new List of Qualifications, new bylaws have been adopted. Some of them are: The decrees on the adoption of qualification standards for individual occupations, Bylaw on the methodology for the qualification standards development etc. The methodology for the qualification standards development has been determined by a separate document which will be used as the main instrument for interpretation of qualifications on labour market and in education system. In parallel with development of these policy documents, the formal body – Agency for qualification was established and the most recent ongoing processes revolves around forming and the work of the sectorial councils for different occupational fields engaged in the processes of development of qualifications.