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Portugal:National Qualifications Framework

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Overview Portugal

Contents

Portugal:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Portugal:Historical Development

Portugal:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Portugal:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Portugal:Political and Economic Situation

Portugal:Organisation and Governance

Portugal:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Portugal:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Portugal:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Portugal:Organisation of Private Education

Portugal:National Qualifications Framework

Portugal:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Portugal:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Portugal:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Portugal:Funding in Education

Portugal:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Portugal:Higher Education Funding

Portugal:Adult Education and Training Funding

Portugal:Early Childhood Education and Care

Portugal:Organisation of Programmes for Children under 3 years

Portugal:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Children under 3 years

Portugal:Assessment in Programmes for Children under 3 years

Portugal:Organisation of Programmes for Children over 3 years

Portugal:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Children over 3 years

Portugal:Assessment in Programmes for Children over 3 years

Portugal:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Portugal:Single Structure Education (Integrated Primary and Lower Secondary Education)

Portugal:Organisation of Single Structure Education

Portugal:Teaching and Learning in Single Structure Education

Portugal:Assessment in Single Structure Education

Portugal:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Single Structure Education

Portugal:Upper Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Portugal:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

Portugal:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

Portugal:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

Portugal:Organisation of Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Portugal:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Portugal:Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Portugal:Organisation of Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Portugal:Teaching and Learning in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Portugal:Assessment in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Portugal:Higher Education

Portugal:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Portugal:First Cycle Programmes

Portugal:Bachelor

Portugal:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Portugal:Second Cycle Programmes

Portugal:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Portugal:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Portugal:Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Distribution of Responsibilities

Portugal:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Portugal:Main Providers

Portugal:Main Types of Provision

Portugal:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Portugal:Teachers and Education Staff

Portugal:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Portugal:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Portugal:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Portugal:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Management and Other Education Staff

Portugal:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Portugal:Management Staff for Higher Education

Portugal:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Portugal:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Quality Assurance

Portugal:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Portugal:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Educational Support and Guidance

Portugal:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Portugal:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Portugal:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Portugal:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Portugal:Mobility and Internationalisation

Portugal:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Mobility in Higher Education

Portugal:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Portugal:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Portugal:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Portugal:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Portugal:National Reforms in School Education

Portugal:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Portugal:National Reforms in Higher Education

Portugal:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Portugal:European Perspective

Portugal:Legislation

Portugal:Institutions

Portugal:Glossary

In April 2008, a European Parliament and Council Recommendation (2008/C111/01/EC, 6th May) was approved in relation to the institution of the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning.

The aim was to create a common framework that worked as a translation mechanism between the qualification systems of the member states. The aim was to contribute to the promotion of lifelong learning and to increase the comparability and portability of qualifications of EU citizens.

In Portugal, the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) was created in 2007 and regulated in June 2009. It came into force in October 2010 (Ordinance no. 782/2009, 23rd July), using the principles of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) in relation to the description of national qualifications in terms of learning outcomes.

The creation of the NQF, which was undertaken as part of the Education and Training System reform process and the creation of the National Qualifications System, was based on the following assumptions:

  • The need to integrate and coordinate qualifications obtained within the different subsystems of education and training (education, vocational training, higher education) within a single framework;
  • the importance of valuing and considering competences acquired in non-formal and informal contexts;
  • improved legibility, transparency and comparability of qualifications;
  • valuing dual certification particularly associated with upper-secondary qualifications;
  • ensuring the coordination with European Qualifications Framework, which involves the use of the EQF as a reference tool to compare the qualifications levels of different qualifications systems, in terms of lifelong learning.


The NQF is structured as follows:

Qualification Levels

Qualification

Level 1

2nd cycle of primary education

Level 2

3rd cycle of primary education obtained in primary education or via dual certification

Level 3

Upper-secondary education geared towards further studies in higher education

Level 4

Upper-secondary education obtained via dual certification or upper-secondary education geared towards further studies in higher education with vocational internship – minimum 6 months

Level 5

Non-higher, post-secondary qualification with credits to continue to higher education-level studies

Level 6

Licentiate Degree (Licenciatura)

Level 7

Master Degree

Level 8

Doctorate

Source: Ordinance no.782/2009, 23rd July


The options taken regarding the design and structure of the NQF are in response to the following aspects:

  • The NQF includes qualifications at various levels of the education and training system, regardless of entry points (primary, upper-secondary, higher education, vocational education and training and processes of recognition, validation and certification of competences, acquired both formally and informally);
  • divided into 8 qualification levels that include all the qualifications currently produced in the Portuguese education and training system;
  • the adoption of a methodology based on learning outcomes to describe each qualification level: the use of learning outcomes in defining qualification levels reflects a major change in the way qualifications are conceptualised and described, making comparability possible according to competences and not learning processes;
  • the adoption of the “knowledge, aptitudes and attitudes” fields for the definition of learning outcomes for each qualification level;
  • the adoption of descriptors of learning outcomes found in the EQF.


Descriptors for each qualification level of the National Qualifications Framework, according to the abovementioned Recommendation, are the following:

Qualification Levels

Corresponding learning outcomes

Knowledge

Skills

Competence

Level 1

Basic general knowledge 

Basic skills required to carry out simple tasks.

Work or study under direct supervision in a structured context.

Level 2

Basic factual knowledge of a field of work or study.

Basic cognitive and practical skills required to use relevant information in order to carry out tasks and to solve routine problems using simple rules and tools.

Work or study under supervision with some autonomy.

Level 3

Knowledge of facts, principles, processes and general concepts, in a field of work or study.

A range of cognitive and practical skills required to accomplish tasks and solve problems by selecting and applying basic methods, tools, materials and information. 

Take responsibility for completion of tasks in a field of work or study. Adapt own behaviour to circumstances in solving problems. 

Level 4

Factual and theoretical knowledge in broad contexts within a field of work or study. 

A range of cognitive and practical skills required to generate solutions to specific problems in a field of work or study.

Exercise self-management within the guidelines of work or study contexts that are usually predictable, but are subject to change. Supervise the routine work of others, taking some responsibility for the evaluation and improvement of work or study activities.

Level 5

Comprehensive, specialised, factual and theoretical knowledge within a field of work or study and an awareness of the boundaries of that knowledge.

A comprehensive range of cognitive and practical skills required to develop creative solutions to abstract problems. 

Exercise management and supervision in contexts of work or study activities where there is unpredictable change. Review and develop performance of self and others.

Level 6

Advanced knowledge of a field of work or study, involving a critical understanding of theories and principles. 

Advanced skills, demonstrating mastery and innovation, required to solve complex and unpredictable problems in a specialised field of work or study.

Manage complex technical or professional activities or projects, taking responsibility for decision-making in unpredictable work or study contexts. Take responsibility for managing professional development of individuals and groups. 

Level 7

Highly specialised knowledge, some of which is at the forefront of knowledge in a field of work or study, as the basis for original thinking and/or research. Critical awareness of knowledge issues in a field and at the interface between different fields. 

Specialised problem-solving skills required in research and/or innovation in order to develop new knowledge and procedures and to integrate knowledge from different fields.

Manage and transform work or study contexts that are complex, unpredictable and require new strategic approaches. Take responsibility for contributing to professional knowledge and practice and/or for reviewing the strategic performance of teams.

Level 8

Knowledge at the most advanced frontier of a field of work or study, and at the interface between fields.

The most advanced and specialised skills and techniques, including synthesis and evaluation, required to solve critical problems in research and/or innocation and to extend and redefine existing knowledge or professional practice. 

Demonstrate substantial authority, innovation, autonomy, scholarly and professional integrity and sustained commitment to the development of new ideas or processes at the forefront of work or study contexts including research. 

Source: Ordinance no.782/2009, 23rd July


When approving the NQF, the National Agency for Qualification and Vocational Education and Training (Agência Nacional para a Qualificação e Ensino Profissional - ANQEP, I.P.) was designated as the national coordination point for the implementation of the EQF. These duties are performed in conjunction with the Directorate General of Higher Education regarding levels 5-8 of the NQF.

Within this context, in 2010, ANQ began the process of referencing the NQF qualification levels to the EQF levels. This referencing process adhered to the criteria and procedures defined by the Advisory Group for the Implementation of the European Commission’s European Qualification Framework (EQF Advisory Group), which includes representatives of member states and the European social partners.

The structuring of the NQF makes it easier to compare qualifications from different countries, which not only facilitates mobility in the employment market but also mobility in education and training.

In January 2011, it was established that all certificates and diplomas issued from  October 1st, 2010, onwards, and which confer a qualification featured in the NQF, must include a reference to the respective level of qualification (Order no. 978/2011, 12th January), which provides greater legibility and transparency in understanding qualifications obtained in the system.