Slovenian Qualifications Framework (SQF)
The Slovenian Qualifications Framework Act (2015, sl) introduced the Slovenian Qualifications Framework (SQF) at the end of 2015. The Framework is set out as a single system of classifying qualifications to levels according to criteria specified by law and learning outcomes. Furthermore, the framework was set out to facilitate the comparison of national qualifications with the qualifications of the European Qualifications Framework (en) and the Qualifications Framework in the European Higher Education Area (en).
The SQF aims to obtain transparency and identification of qualifications at the national and EU levels.
The main objectives of the SQF are to:
- support lifelong learning
- connect and coordinate the Slovenian qualifications subsystems, and
- improve the transparency, accessibility and quality of qualifications in terms of the labour market and civil society.
By law, the Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Vocational Education and Training (CPI) became the national coordination point for the SQF and EQF. The national coordination point is tasked with:
- ensuring access to information on and the promotion of the SQF and EQFmanaging the process of approving and registering qualifications
- coordinating the positioning of the SQF within the EQF, and
- cooperating with relevant EU institutions, among other.
The national coordination point also provides administrative and general support to the seven member expert committee that the Minister of Labour appointed. This expert committee brings together representatives of three ministries (in charge of labour, education and economic development), as well as of employers and employees. Among other tasks, the expert committee defines standards for the integration of additional qualifications into the SQF. The committee also monitors the overall development of the SQF, EQF and the qualifications framework for the European Higher Education Area (EHEA).
Turning to the substance of the SQF, the system includes formal education qualifications (at all levels) as well as qualifications obtained outside the system of formal education (National Vocational Qualifications and supplementary qualifications).
In line with the EU-level policies, learning outcomes represent the core of the SQF. This is meant to contribute to the comparability and transparency of qualification systems, lifelong learning, recognition of non-formal and informal learning, quality assurance and a better integration between education and the labour market.
The SQF classifies the qualifications into ten levels. The classification applies the relevant level descriptors. The individual level descriptor includes three categories of learning results:
- Knowledge is defined as the result of learning and the assimilation of concepts, principles, theories and practices. Acquisition of knowledge takes place in various settings: in the educational process, at work and in the context of private and social life.
- Skills, the second outcome, may be cognitive (such as the use of logical, intuitive and creative thinking) or practical (for instance, manual, creative skills, use of materials, tools and instruments).
- Lastly, competences refer to the ability to use and integrate knowledge and skills in educational, professional and personal situations. They are classified in terms of complexity, autonomy and responsibility. We distinguish between generic and vocation or profession specific competences.
Other components of the SQF are:
- Qualifications framework as a tabular presentation of categories and types of qualifications at 10 qualification levels
- Methodology of description and referencing of qualifications, and
- Register of SQF qualifications.
Referencing the SQF to EQF and EHEA
The 10-level SQF is clearly related to eight EQF levels through descriptors for both frameworks, and SQF descriptors from levels six to 10 are related to descriptors in the qualifications framework for the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). For a detailed explanation, see the final report on referencing the SQF to the EQF QF for the European Higher Education Area (sl, .pdf). Further information on the design and other aspects of SQF is also available in the presentation brochure (.pdf, en) and on the SQF website.
Continuous development of SQF
The continuous development of the register of qualifications SQF shall focus on:
- applying the register in the recognition of the Slovenian qualification abroad and foreign qualifications in Slovenia
- archiving of qualifications
- promotion of the register
- setting out register for various groups of final users (upper secondary and/or higher education students, educational institutions, employers, human resource management)
- improving functionalities of the register (e. g. searching by key words), and
- updating, and thereby guaranteeing accuracy of data in the register SQF.
For more information, please see the final report Monitoring of the Slovenian qualifications framework and register of qualifications SQF (sl, .pdf).
In 2005, the year of the Slovenia's EU accession, a national discussion was conducted on the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) for lifelong learning. The implementation of EQF also sparked a discussion on a formal alignment of the national educational scale with the developments in the education system taking place in Slovenia. Ultimately, this discussion led to the development of the Slovenian Qualifications Framework (SQF) that is described in the next section.
For statistical purposes, the government introduced, by the decree (sl), the Classification System of Education and Training (KLASIUS, sl) in 2006. This classification groups educational activities and outcomes on an eight-level scale. The classification is a mandatory national statistical standard rather than a national qualifications framework, but it did serve as one of the starting points in the design of the SQF.
In the same year, the Higher Education Act was amended, and it stipulated the adoption of a national higher education qualifications framework. This framework was to serve as a tool for the determination of the principles and outcomes of study programmes in terms of knowledge, skills and competences.
In 2008, the ENIC NARIC Centre, the competent authority for the assessment and recognition of education (at the time operating under the auspices of the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology) joined the project "HEQual-NQFs – Description of H.Ed. qualifications in NQFs with regard to existing recognition procedures". The findings of this project were meant to assist experts from different countries to further devise and implement the EQF as well as to draft national and regional qualifications frameworks. Subsequently, the government appointed the Steering Committee for the elaboration of the National Qualifications Framework in accordance with the European Qualifications Framework in early 2010.
The Steering Committee had formal decision making powers regarding the development of the SQF. Its main tasks:
- appointing the National Coordination Point in accordance with the Recommendation on the EQF
- developing the Strategy and referencing procedures of Slovenian qualification levels to the EQF in line with relevant criteria
- drafting positions for the Consultation Group within the European Commission
- approving expert groundwork with the view to set up the Slovenian Qualifications Framework
- drafting guidelines for implementation groups and preparing substantive groundwork for the commitment of earmarked funds from the ESF, and
- monitoring the process of the establishment of the Slovenian Qualifications Framework and providing for referencing of individual qualification standards.
In co-operation with a three-member expert group, the Steering Committee developed the initial proposal for a ten-level National Qualifications Framework and launched a public consultation in early 2011. The first round of consultation entailed meetings with representatives of employers, schools, higher education institutions, trade unions and ministries. Input provided by these stakeholders was incorporated in the new draft, which was presented at the National Consultation on the Slovenian Qualifications Framework. This conference was open to all interested stakeholders. The final proposal, developed in May 2011, reflected the stakeholders’ input.
A detailed overview of the development of the SQF is available in the comprehensive report (.pdf, en) that was published by the Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Vocational Education and Training (CPI).