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.

The EQF is a pan-European system for classifying and comparing qualifications from different countries. Introduced in 2004, the EQF has been gradually implemented across Europe, with the aim of making it easier for learners to move between different countries and sectors. So what does this mean for educators? And how can we best take advantage of the EQF? This blog post will explore these questions, and provide advice on how to make the most of the EQF in your teaching practice.

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 that links countries’ qualification 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 a 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 EQF 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 8RQF Level 8SCQF Level 12
Vocational Qualifications Level 8Doctoral Degrees
 Professional Development Awards
EQF Level 7RQF Level 7SCQF Level 11
 Master’s degrees
 Post Graduate Diploma
 Post Graduate Certificate
 Professional Development Awards
 SVQ 5
EQF Level 6RQF Level 6SCQF Level 10
Vocational Qualifications Level 6Honours Degree
 Graduate Certificate / Diploma
 Professional Development Awards
 SCQF Level 9
 Bachelors/Ordinary Degree
 Graduate Certificate / Diploma
 Professional Development Awards
 SVQ 4
EQF Level 5RQF Level 5SCQF Level 8
Level 5 Vocational QualificationsHigher National Diplomas
Higher National Diplomas (HND)Diploma of Higher Education
 Professional Development Awards
 SVQ 4
RQF Level 4SCQF Level 7
Level 4 Vocational QualificationsAdvanced Higher
Higher National Certificate (HNC)Higher National Certificates
 Certificate of Higher Education
 Professional Development Awards
 SVQ 3
EQF Level 4RQF Level 3SCQF Level 6
GCE AS and A-LevelHigher
National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) Level 3National Certificates
Functional Skills Level 3 (England only)National Progression Awards
 Professional Development Awards
 SVQ 3
EQF Level 3RQF Level 2SCQF Level 5
GCSE Grades A*-CIntermediate 2
Higher Diploma (England only)Standard Grade Credit
National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) Level 2National Certificates
Functional Skills at Level 2 (England only)National Progression Awards
Essential Skills at Level 2 (Northern Ireland only)SVQ 2
EQF Level 2RQF Level 1SCQF Level 4
GCSE Grades G – DIntermediate 1
Foundation Diploma (England only)Standard Grade – General
National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) Level 1National Certificates
Functional Skills Level 1 (England only)National Progression Awards
 SVQ 1
EQF Level 1Entry Level 3SCQF Level 3
 Access 3
 Standard Grade – Foundation
 National Certificates
 National Progression Awards
Table of EQF, RQF, SVQ and SQQF qualifications

What effect has Brexit had on the EQF?

Now that the UK has officially left the European Union, where has this left UK 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. The EQF is here to stay – but what about qualifications from other countries? The UK has left the European Union, so does this mean that learners and those wishing to work abroad will no longer be able to compare academic or vocational experience against a common framework of qualification levels across member states as was previously possible with EU membership. ? In short: No! You can still use your old certificates for comparison under these new arrangements (you'll just need an updated version if it was issued after 29 March 2019).


We hope this guide on the EQF and what it means for your learning and career prospects have 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 career journey, visit the homepage or call us today on 0121 630 3000.