EQF and Learning Outcomes. Spain Report

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1 EQF and Learning Outcomes Spain Report 1. Introduction Spain is currently developing an NQF for lifelong learning (Spanish qualifications framework, MECU), based on learning outcomes. It will link and coordinate different education and training subsystems. The higher four levels of MECU will be linked to the qualifications framework for higher education (MECES), which is being put in place separately. A preliminary draft of the QF for HE has been prepared and is being discussed with all relevant stakeholders. Links between both frameworks are envisaged. It is expected that the Royal Decree on the introduction of MECU will be adopted by the Spanish Government at the beginning of The development work started in January The Ministry of Education has drawn up a first draft of the NQF which is now being presented to, and discussed with, different stakeholders. Development work builds on reforms in all subsystems of education and training. The NQF development is broadly based on various acts and decrees, defining and regulating different education and training subsystems, including: (a) non-university formal education qualifications: Act on Education (2/2006), Act on Qualifications and Vocational Training (5/2002), Royal Decree establishing vocational training general organisation within the education system (1538/2006). (b) higher education qualifications: Universities Act (6/2001, amended 4/2007), Royal Decree on establishing the organisation of official university education (1393/2007), Royal Decree on establishing the procedures for universities to issue the Diploma Supplement. (c) professional competences: Royal Decree for the recognition of professional competences acquired through professional experience. (1) 2. Rationale and the main policy objectives One of the main objectives of developing a Spanish qualifications framework compatible with the EQF and the QF- EHEA is to make Spanish qualifications clearer and easier to understand by describing them in terms of learning outcomes. It will improve the extent to which all stakeholders are informed about the national qualifications. It will raise trust and make mobility easier. NQF will support lifelong learning, improve access and participation in lifelong learning for everyone, including disadvantaged people. Through the NQF it will be easier to identify, validate and recognise all kind of learning outcomes (including non-formal and informal learning), regardless of the way they were acquired. It will support better use of qualifications at national and European level.

2 One of its important aims is also facilitating and improving access and participation in lifelong learning and transition within the various subsystems of education and vocational training. The HE representative emphasised the progression from short cycle to university programmes and to open up higher education for non-traditional learners, who might have no school leaving certificate. Another challenge is to put procedures in place for recognition of non-formal learning. The MECU should have an important communication role: (a) for broader society: to enable citizens to judge the relative value of qualifications. Increased transparency is a prerequisite for the transfer and accumulation of skills; (b) for students to develop flexible learning pathways and to use opportunities for mobility; (c) for employers: to allow them to assess better the profile, content and relevance of qualifications for the labour market; (d) for training providers: to allow them to compare the profile and content of their learning offer with national standards. (1) 3. Involvement of stakeholders The Ministry of Education is coordinating the NQF development and implementation in close cooperation with other ministries (Ministry for Labour and Immigration, Ministry of Science and Innovation, Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Health and Social Policy, Ministry of the Treasury). The development work includes a wide range of other stakeholders such as social partners (unions, Spanish Confederation of Employers Organisations, Spanish Confederation of Small and Medium Enterprises), institutional coordination bodies (e.g. Sectoral Conference of Education, General Conference for University Policy ), consultative bodies (State School Council, Vocational Training Council, Arts Education Council, University Council), agencies for evaluation and others (professional corporations and associations). Close cooperation with the Bologna process is ensured with members represented in the both Committees for NQF for LLL (MECU) and in the group for QF and HE (MECES). (1) 4. Levels and descriptors An eight-level framework has been proposed to cover all main types of Spanish qualifications. The four highest levels will be compatible with the Spanish QF for HE. Level descriptors are defined in terms of knowledge, skills and competence. They have been inspired by the EQF level descriptors, but adopted to suit national context. This is particularly the case for skills, where the ability to communicate in different languages and analytical skills are emphasised. Competence is defined as autonomy and responsibility and including learning skills and attitudes. Broad generic descriptors for NQF will be supplemented with more detailed descriptors for sub-frameworks if needed (e.g. for professional qualifications). Descriptors for all levels are based on the same general principles. The descriptors for levels 5-8 are compatible with the Dublin descriptors, so these MECU levels can be compared to the MECES levels. (1)

3 5. Use of learning outcomes in HE & CE The learning outcomes approach is seen as an essential part of the development of the NQF and is supported by all relevant stakeholders. It is expected that the development of both the NQF for LLL and the QF for HE will further support the shift The development of national qualifications frameworks in Europe (August 2010) to learning outcomes in all the education and qualification levels to make qualifications more readable and easier to compare. The Ministry of Education has established national core curricula for the various levels of education: primary education, lower secondary education, upper secondary education and vocational training. They are determined by the central government. The core curricula determine the general objectives for each stage of education as well as specific objectives for each area or subject. The core curricula also establish the content and evaluation criteria for each area. The new VET qualifications are already defined in terms of learning outcomes. The professional modules contained in each qualification gather the learning outcomes and the corresponding assessment criteria that show that the qualification holder knows, understands and is able to do as expected after the completion of the learning programme. These learning outcomes are closely related to work activities and the required professional competences. In HE, new study programmes have to include expected outcomes and achievement of learning objectives set for the student. All study programmes have to be accredited according to the guidelines established at national level. The new Royal Decree for the recognition of professional competences (1224/2009), which was adopted in July 2009, regulates the procedures for the validation of professional competences acquired through non-formal and informal learning and professional experience. The national catalogue of occupational qualifications is used as the reference for occupational qualifications identified in the production system and organised in the catalogue by competence levels. (1) 6. Referencing to the EQF The draft referencing report is expected to be prepared by The Directorate General for Vocational Education and Training was appointed by the government to coordinate and launch the process and act as the national contact point (NCP). (1) 7. National legislation on EQF and relation with HE & CE "The work of the Ministry of Education to develop the Spanish Qualifications Framework (MECU) is based on the importance of this framework as a tool that helps support and drive lifelong learning, assessing capacities in terms of competency levels, which includes education, professional experience and the combination of both and which allows international recognition of this learning thanks to integration of the MECU in the global framework of EQF.

4 Since it is necessary to simultaneously develop the Spanish Qualifications Framework for Higher Education (MECES) and the more general Spanish Qualifications Framework (MECU), it seems reasonable to do so jointly, so the higher levels of the MECU match those of the MECES. While it is true that MECES has certain, initially more limited, objectives, nothing prevents using only the more general framework for both cases. National frameworks must be related to the eight-level European one. Since in Spain they are going to be created ex novo, it seems appropriate to also establish eight levels for the MECU, the last four of which will match those of the MECES. At the moment, a Committee created for this purpose is working on defining the descriptors, and then to initiate a discussion with stakeholders (labour authorities, social agents, employers, etc.). Passing of a Royal Decree establishing the MECU is expected in mid The Framework will facilitate mobility and international recognition of qualifications and training, with a twofold objective: on the one hand inform society and students on what the learning requirements are for each level and, on the other, inform employers on which are the competences of the people to be employed. As for the systems for validation of non-formal or informal learning and its approaches, the current formulas developed are the following: - Access to university for people over Access to the Higher Cycle of Vocational Education (RD 1538/2006 establishing the general regulations for vocational education in the education system). - Access to the Intermediate Cycle of Vocational Education (RD 1538/2006). - Examinations to achieve the Compulsory Secondary Education Certificate. - Recognition of non-formal and informal education through initial assessments conducted at adult centres. - Draft Royal Decree establishing the procedure and requirements for evaluation and accreditation of professional competences acquired through work experience or non-formal training channels, and their effect. The main objective is to enhance recognition of professional competences acquired through work experience or non-formal training channels. For this end, it establishes the requirements for evaluation and accreditation of these competences, as well as their effects. This aims at facilitating employability and mobility, enhancing lifelong learning and favouring social cohesion. (2) 8. The most important lessons learned and the way forward Since Spain is at an early stage of development of the NQF for LLL it is too early to speak about particular problems. However, there is a challenge to link the two NQF development processes and to strengthen cooperation between all relevant stakeholders from all subsystems. The development of national qualifications frameworks in Europe (August 2010). The Ministry of Education is the main source of information on the NQF development, (MECU and MECES), also for all formal qualifications, including VET diplomas The Directorate General for Vocational Training has been designated the national contact point (NCP). The National Register of

5 Occupational Qualifications (standards) is available on the web site of the National Institute for Qualifications (INCUAL). Available from the Internet: (1) 9. Level of implementation of EQF/NQF The development of NQFs is in most countries a parallel process to linking national qualifications levels to the EQF. Almost all countries envisage to relate their national qualifications systems or NQFs to the EQF by 2010 or 2011: National Coordination Points (NCPs) in charge of coordinating the referencing of national qualifications levels with the EQF are already designated in 17 countries (BG, CZ, EE, EL, ES, FI, FR, IE, IS, IT HR, LV, MT, PT, SI, UK, TR). 6 more countries plan to designate them by 2010 (AT, BE, IS, LT, NO, SE). Ireland and Malta already completed the process of referencing their NQFs to the EQF in summer other countries envisage to complete the referencing of their national qualifications system or framework to the EQF by 2010 (AT, BE fr, BE nl, DK, EE, FR, FI, HR, IS, IT, LU, NL, PT, TR, UK) or by 2011 (CZ, DE, EL, ES, LV, NO, PL, SI, SK, SE). (3) Sources of Text (1) The development of national qualifications frameworks in Europe, 2010, CEDEFOP Report, (2) Spain, National Report on the Implementation of Education and Training 2010, (3) PROGRESS TOWARDS THE LISBON OBJECTIVES IN EDUCATION AND TRAINING - Analysis of implementation at the European and national levels, 2010, ec.europa.eu/education/lifelong-learning-policy/doc/joint10/sec1598_en.pdf.

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