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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Validation of non-formal and informal learning


8.Adult education and training

8.5Validation of non-formal and informal learning

Last update: 13 September 2022

The Education Act (Skollagen, 2010) defines validation in the following way: “Validation is a process which involves a structured assessment, evaluation, documentation and recognition of knowledge and competences possessed by a person independently of how it is acquired”.  

In Sweden the implementation of validation is decentralised at regional and local level and embedded in the municipal adult education system and public employment services. The responsibility for validation is divided between different actors, e.g. public authorities within the field of education, the public employment service, adult education providers or competent bodies for regulated professions. There is not one single national validation process, the process depends on for example whether validation is part of formal education, the private sector, adult education or higher education, and/or performed by accredited actors or non-accredited. There are a variety of methods in use.

In 2003 the Swedish Government appointed the first Swedish National Delegation on Validation for the period 2004-2007, to promote and further develop validation methods and enhance cooperation with other relevant bodies. The Commission’s final report ‘Towards a National Structure’ summarised the work of the Commission and provided a number of recommendations which guided the further development of validation in Sweden. The Education Act affirms the possibility of undertaking validation in all types of adult education, including Swedish for immigrants (sfi).

Within liberal adult education (folkbildning), the focus is on mapping and visualizing general competences within lifelong learning. The Swedish National Council of Adult Education (Folkbildningsrådet)  emphazises that the importance of non-formal learning has increased due to the common EU focus on learning. The 8 EU key competencies are central in the validation within non-formal learning. Examples of competencies within this area are commisions of trust and participation in liberal adult education.

On 27 August 2015, the government decided to introduce a qualifications framework for lifelong learning, SeQF. The qualifications framework was put into action on 1 October 2015. The framework is in accordance with the European Parliament and Councils recommendation concerning an European framework for qualifications for lifelong learning. The government has level placed qualifications within the formal education system fulfilling the criteria of learning outcomes and quality assurance, for example upper secondary degrees. Since 1 January 2016 all qualification providers are able to apply for level placement. It is not mandatory for the provider of qualifications placed in the SeQF to validate knowledge, skills and competencies acquired in other settings, the principle of learning outcomes could facilitate the process of validation. The requirements of quality assurance can also be a driver of interest for different qualification providers to apply for level placement in the SeQF 

The Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education (Myndigheten för yrkeshögskolan) has the responsibility to support sector organisations in their work with validation and development of validation models. The agency has an emphasised responsibility to promote the use of validation within higher vocational education. 

The second National Delegation for Validation 2015–2019 was appointed by the Swedish Government to follow-up, support and promote coordinated development work within the area of validation and to propose a national strategy for validation. The Delegation had 15 members representing trade unions, employers’ associations and national authorities. The Ministry of Education and Research was the sponsor ministry for the Delegation.

The delegation was assigned to: 

  • Provide suggestions for a national strategy for validation; 

  • Work to establish a consensus between educational institutions and the labour market 
regarding validation; 

  • Follow and analyse the extent and results of validation within educational institutions and the labour market; 

  • Spread knowledge about good practice concerning validation and work towards making knowledge about validation visible for the specific individuals need; and, 

  • Provide suggestions to the government and take well-needed initiatives that strengthen the development of validation within the educational institutions and on the labour market, and propose necessary suggestions for statutes. 

The government Comission report Validation in Higher Education (SOU 2018:29) by the National Delegation for Validation states that there are a variety of courses that are run by for example private educational providers, study associations, folk high schools, industry organizations and individual employers. Many of these courses hold a level both in terms of quality and focus and can be comparable to an university education. It is possible for these education providers to apply for a level placement in SeQF. The qualification should correspond to the level in the reference framework that best corresponds to the knowledge, skills and competencies that the qualification represents. When an increased amount of qualifications from non-formal education and informal learning are placed in a SeQF-level, the higher education institutions' opportunities to compare learning outcomes from contexts outside formal education increase.

For more information on validation, see Sweden’s report on the European inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning 2016

The final report of the National Delegation for Validation 2019 including an English summary.

For more information on the Swedish qualifications framework see SeQF.