Adopted in 2008, the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) sought to unify qualifications across all EU member states – providing a useful way to cross-reference qualifications with other countries. This proved a boon for businesses seeking to employ staff from beyond the border, and vice versa.

In this guide, we’ve put together all the essential information you need to know about the EQF and what it means for you. What’s more, we’ve also included a section on the EQF now that the UK has left the EU. Use the links below to quickly find the information you need.

What is the European Qualifications Framework (EQF)?

The European Qualifications Framework (EQF) is a way of mapping qualifications across EU member countries. The EQF was officially adopted by the European Parliament and the Council in April 2008. The UK has completed the cross-referencing of its frameworks; the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF).

The EQF is a common European reference framework which links countries’ qualifications systems together, acting as a translation device to make qualifications more readable and understandable across different countries and systems in Europe. It has two principal aims: to promote citizens’ mobility between countries and to facilitate their lifelong learning.

What are the benefits of using the European Qualifications Framework?

The EQF enables learners, learning providers and employers to compare qualifications between different countries’ national qualifications systems.

This is thought to help increase mobility in the labour market within and between the countries because it makes it easy to determine a person’s level of qualification, which will improve the balance between supply and demand of knowledge and skills.

woman working on her laptop

What Levels and Qualifications Does the EQF Cover?

The EQF is a lifelong learning framework and covers all types of qualifications ranging from those acquired at the end of compulsory education (Level 1) to the highest qualifications such as Doctorate (Level 8 in the QCF and Level 12 in the SCQF).

The framework also includes vocational qualifications. Just like the RQF, the EQF consists of eight levels which indicate the difficulty level. The EQF (as are both the RQF and SCQF) is focused on the outcome of learning and the person’s actual knowledge and skills rather than the amount of study needed to complete the qualification programme.


European Qualifications Framework comparison table

The table below offers a full-picture look at how the EQF framework aligns with qualifications in the UK and Scotland. Simply find the qualification you have (or are in the process of studying towards) and compare it to the EQF level to see how it ranks in European nations.

EQF Level 8 RQF Level 8 SCQF Level 12
Vocational Qualifications Level 8 Doctoral Degrees
  Professional Development Awards
EQF Level 7 RQF Level 7 SCQF Level 11
  Master’s degrees
  Post Graduate Diploma
  Post Graduate Certificate
  Professional Development Awards
  SVQ 5
EQF Level 6 RQF Level 6 SCQF Level 10
Vocational Qualifications Level 6 Honours Degree
  Graduate Certificate / Diploma
  Professional Development Awards
  SCQF Level 9
  Bachelors/Ordinary Degree
  Graduate Certificate / Diploma
  Professional Development Awards
  SVQ 4
EQF Level 5 RQF Level 5 SCQF Level 8
Level 5 Vocational Qualifications Higher National Diplomas
Higher National Diplomas (HND) Diploma of Higher Education
  Professional Development Awards
  SVQ 4
RQF Level 4 SCQF Level 7
Level 4 Vocational Qualifications Advanced Higher
Higher National Certificate (HNC) Higher National Certificates
  Certificate of Higher Education
  Professional Development Awards
  SVQ 3
EQF Level 4 RQF Level 3 SCQF Level 6
GCE AS and A Level Higher
National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) Level 3 National Certificates
Functional Skills Level 3 (England only) National Progression Awards
  Professional Development Awards
  SVQ 3
EQF Level 3 RQF Level 2 SCQF Level 5
GCSEs Grades A*-C Intermediate 2
Higher Diploma (England only) Standard Grade � Credit
National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) Level 2 National Certificates
Functional Skills at Level 2 (England only) National Progression Awards
Essential Skills at Level 2 (Northern Ireland only) SVQ 2
EQF Level 2 RQF Level 1 SCQF Level 4
GCSEs Grades G – D Intermediate 1
Foundation Diploma (England only) Standard Grade – General
National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) Level 1 National Certificates
Functional Skills Level 1 (England only) National Progression Awards
  SVQ 1
EQF Level 1 Entry Level 3 SCQF Level 3
  Access 3
  Standard Grade – Foundation
  National Certificates
  National Progression Awards


What effect has Brexit had on the European Qualifications Framework?

Now that the UK has officially left the European Union, where has this left UK and Scottish qualifications in terms of the EQF?

Learners and those wishing to work abroad will be happy to know that Brexit has no impact on the EQF. UK and Scottish qualifications remain part of the EQF, meaning you can continue to compare academic and vocational qualifications against the EQF in the same way as before the Brexit transition.

We hope this guide on the EQF and what it means for your learning and career prospects has proved useful. For more advice and information, the Oxbridge team is here to help. Whether you’re interested in our distance learning courses or require guidance on the next step on your learning and careers journey, visit the homepage or call us today on 0121 630 3000.