NQF country report

NQF snapshot

The Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Council of Ministers adopted the baseline qualifications framework, or BQF, in March 2011. The BQF has eight levels and includes all types and levels of qualifications.

Governance of the framework remains unsettled. The Ministry of Civil Affairs (MoCA) currently coordinates qualifications framework development and implementation in cooperation with the country's various sub-State authorities. But, for wider political reasons, planned governing and implementing institutions are either suspended or not yet established. Consequently, MoCA has been compelled to convene ad-hoc bodies to carry out specific urgent tasks.

Bosnia and Herzegovina participates in the EQF process as a member of the EQF advisory group and is a member of the Bologna process in higher education.

BiH has a strategy to implement the qualifications framework and is developing tools and approaches. Institutional arrangements for coordination of the BQF's implementation have been designed but are not yet operational, so Bosnia and Herzegovina is at the activation stage.

Policy context

Bosnia and Herzegovina has been a potential candidate for European Union (EU) membership since 2003. It participates in the Stabilisation and association process and submitted its formal application to join the EU in February 2016. However, the EU considers that further reforms across a range of political and economic areas are not yet sufficiently developed to warrant EU candidate country status.

The country comprises two entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (divided into 10 cantons) and the Republika Srpska, plus a smaller administrative region, Brcko District. At BiH level, there is the Council of Ministers (the State-level government) and a presidency rotating every eight months among the three main communities, Bosniak, Croat and Serb.

Pre-Covid-19, the economy had been showing slow but sustained growth, including improved employment levels. Nonetheless unemployment remained high, at 19% in 2018 (OECD, 2020).

The 2020 pandemic, however, has reversed any upward trend in the economy. International estimates suggest a -6.5 GDP contraction for 2020 (IMF, 2020). Employment is also adversely affected. Data available for the first quarter of 2020 point to a 0.5% fall in employment.

Covid-19 caused a shift to remote learning in 2020. Digital poverty, particularly in rural areas, has exacerbated existing education exclusion. Teachers were largely unprepared for remote learning when school closures began, though schools which already had online learning experience, such as in Sarajevo Canton, were better able to adapt to online provision, while others established hybrid learning models (emails, social media tools, etc).

Demographic changes pose major challenges for the BiH economy, notably the country's ageing population. Birth rates are declining and young people are emigrating to such an extent that between 2010 and 2019, young people's share of the general population fell by 10%.

Approximately 75% of the upper secondary cohort is enrolled in VET.

The education and training system is highly fragmented, which results in a lack of common standards for education levels, teacher training and performance evaluation ([1] European Commission (2018). Commission staff working document: Bosnia and Herzegovina 2018 report, accompanying the document Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – 2018 Communication on EU enlargement policy {COM(2018) 450 final}. SWD(2018) 155 final, Strasbourg 17.4.2018. https://ec.europa.eu/neighbourhood-enlargement/sites/near/files/20180417-bosnia-and-herzegovina-report.pdf). The institutional structure is complex, involving 14 different education authorities, counting State-level, entities and cantons. Education reform so far has largely been focused on development of legislative, institutional and policy frameworks, which is a lengthy process requiring adoption at State, entity and cantonal levels.

Moving forward, a comprehensive and inclusive qualifications environment will be important for worker mobility and recognition of qualifications, both within BiH and the European Union given aspirations for accession to the Union.

NQF legal basis

There are two main legal acts concerning the qualifications framework.

First is Bosnia and Herzegovina's Council of Ministers' Decision on adoption of the baseline of qualifications framework in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Official Gazette of BiH, No 31/11, 39/12). The decision carries the force of law.

Second is the Council of Ministers' Decision on adoption of the action plan for the establishment and implementation of the qualifications framework in Bosnia and Herzegovina for the period 2014-20 (Official Gazette of BiH, No 28/15) ([2] Documents are available in English or local languages at: http://www.mcp.gov.ba/Content/Read/obrazovanje-dokumenti).

A qualifications framework for higher education was developed in line with the Bologna process, with support from the Council of Europe. Legislation was adopted in 2007 ([3] The framework for higher education qualifications in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the strategy for its implementation were adopted in December 2007 through Decision of the Council of Ministries on the adoption of documents needed for further implementation of the Bologna process in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Official Gazette of BiH, No 13/08). Other key documents adopted through this decision included: Standards and guidelines for quality assurance in higher education in Bosnia and Herzegovina; Recommendations for implementing quality assurance in higher education in Bosnia and Herzegovina; National action plan for qualifications in Bosnia and Herzegovina; Diploma supplement model for Bosnia and Herzegovina; Users' manual for the diploma supplement for Bosnia and Herzegovina.), making the higher education framework an integral part of the qualifications framework.

Related legal acts at State level are ([4] Documents are available in English or local languages at: http://www.mcp.gov.ba/Content/Read/obrazovanje-dokumenti):

  1. the framework law on primary and secondary education (2003);
  2. the framework law on pre-primary education (2007);
  3. the framework law on higher education (2007);
  4. the law on the agency for pre-primary, primary and secondary education (2007);
  5. the framework law on VET (2008).

Education and training reforms

As an instrument for reform, the qualifications framework supports the development of an education and training system based on lifelong learning principles, use of learning outcomes, and quality assurance at all levels of education. Given a highly fragmented legal and institutional environment, the framework is nonetheless intended to enable the development and application of common education, occupational and qualification standards, plus common standards for the certification of education service providers.

Given its potential to aid reform and create synergies, the qualifications framework is included in several strategic documents for the modernisation of education and training: Priorities for development of higher education in Bosnia and Herzegovina for the period 2016-26; Strategic platform for development of adult education in the context of lifelong learning for the period 2014-20, and the old and new VET strategies ([5] Documents are available in English or local languages at: http://mcp.gov.ba/Content/Read/obrazovanje-dokumenti ).

In the area of qualification standards, the following actions have been formulated:

  1. the implementation of the action plan for the development and implementation of the qualifications framework in BiH for the period 2014-20;
  1. the provision of a special budget line for innovations in public curricula;
  2. each curriculum or study programme will be designed with two outputs: one for the labour market and for continuing education;
  3. improvement of legislation and practice in recognition of qualifications for employment purposes or continuing education;
  4. improvement of quality assurance policies and practice for all levels of education and training;
  5. establishment of qualification standards in accordance with the BQF and action plan for the development and implementation of the qualifications framework in BiH for the period 2014-20.

The main objectives of the strategic platform for development of adult education in the context of lifelong learning are the following:

  1. improving legislation for adult education in the context of lifelong learning and alignment with the EQF;
  1. establishing effective ways to involve relevant social partners in the process of adult education in the context of lifelong learning;
  2. developing programmes and increasing the accessibility of adult education;
  3. raising and ensuring the quality of adult education.

Bosnia and Herzegovina recently adopted Priorities in integration of the entrepreneurial learning and key competences in education systems in BiH, 2021-20. This document is in line with NQF developments and aligned with the European entrepreneurship competence framework ([6] Adopted by the Council of Ministers on 22 October 2020.).

The Strategy for development of vocational education and training in Bosnia and Herzegovina for the period 2007-13 (Official Gazette of BiH, No 65/07), will be replaced by a new State-wide strategy. MoCA, with all relevant ministries, drafted the strategy Improvement of quality and relevance of vocational education and training in Bosnia and Herzegovina 2021-30, in line with the Riga conclusions. A final adoption by the Council of Ministers was expected in late 2020 to early 2021.

The seven priority areas in higher education are:

  1. good governance and management (including quality assurance);
  2. resources;
  3. strengthening the relationship between the labour market and higher education, in particular modernising study programmes to meet labour market needs;
  4. qualification standards;
  5. student experience;
  6. internationalisation;
  7. statistics.

Aims of NQF

The qualifications framework is intended as a tool for transparency and reform. While Bosnia and Herzegovina previously had a traditional qualifications classifier, the nomenklatura, which comprehensively described the education and training system, the qualifications framework aims not only to structure and classify qualifications, but also to provide meaningful links between education and the labour market ([7] MoCA (2019). Referencing to the EQF and self-certification to the QF-EHEA: state of play. ).

The qualifications framework aims to increase access to education and social inclusion, including through supporting mechanisms for validation and recognition of non-formal and informal learning, and to enable comparability of qualifications to support mobility and progression, both within the country and abroad.

Specific goals for the qualifications framework include ([8] Documents are available in English or local languages at: http://mcp.gov.ba/Content/Read/obrazovanje-dokumenti):

  1. making understandable the different types of qualifications and their inter-relationships;
  1. achieving comprehensible presentations of education achievements to employers, learners and parents;
  2. guiding individuals in the selection of education and career paths;
  3. facilitating mobility and more transparent access to education throughout life;
  4. facilitating identification and recognition of national qualifications abroad and of foreign qualifications in Bosnia and Herzegovina;
  5. creating the preconditions for introducing a quality assurance system for existing and new qualifications;
  6. creating the preconditions for the development of a system of evaluation and recognition of competences acquired through non-formal and informal education/learning;
  7. improvement of co-operation with all social partners.

NQF scope and structure

The BQF has eight levels, designed for 1-to-1 referencing to the EQF levels. It does not have the sub-levels commonly found in other countries in the region. It is a comprehensive framework, including all types of qualifications from general education, VET and higher education.

Qualifications awarded outside formal education and training can be included, but criteria and procedures for inclusion and levelling these are yet to be defined. A methodology for such allocation was developed as part of the EU project Qualifications framework for lifelong learning.

Level descriptors are derived from the EQF. Three domains of learning outcomes are used: knowledge, skills, and competences (responsibility and autonomy). The level descriptors may be further developed to represent the country context better, and to serve the EQF referencing process.

Types of qualification

According to the action plan for the development and implementation of the qualifications framework, a qualification is defined as 'a formal title of the result of a process of assessment and validation obtained once a competent body determines that an individual has achieved the learning outcomes as per the defined standards'. In practice, however, the distinction between curriculum and qualifications is not always clear.

Different types of qualifications distinguished are:

  1. general education qualifications;
  1. VET qualifications;
  2. higher education qualifications.

Quality assurance of qualifications

In practice, except for higher education, quality assurance in qualifications is little developed in the country. Especially in VET, it is highly fragmented.

In higher education, the institutional lead lies with the Agency for Development of Higher Education and Quality Assurance (HEA). In recent years, it has conducted accreditation of higher education institutions, private and public, of which a few offer short-cycle, level 5 qualifications, which are VET-oriented. To date, this has been general accreditation for both providers and programmes, but not yet for individual qualifications. The Agency has also been updating quality assurance procedures in higher education, to meet the Bologna process' European standards and guidelines.

An EU-funded project developed a manual for quality assurance in VET which includes guidelines, including standards and criteria, for external evaluation and self-assessment based on best European practice and models, However, its take-up and use by authorities and providers has been partial.

Significant challenges in quality assurance of VET qualifications are lack of comparable education or occupational standards, lack of agreed criteria for development and validation of qualifications, minimal external assessment, and fragmented functions among the many actors. The Manual for enhancement of vocational qualifications was developed by the EU-funded project Qualifications framework for lifelong learning to overcome these challenges. The manual is intended for all institutions and bodies involved in developing the basic elements of the qualifications framework, such as occupational standards, qualification standards, curricula and programmes and use of learning outcomes.

This manual is directly linked to the training programme for enhancement of VET qualifications, which includes additional materials for training qualifications developers.

Use of learning outcomes and standards

To be placed in the framework, qualifications should be composed of units of learning outcomes, but designing learning-outcomes-based qualifications has been a challenge, especially in VET. ETF conducted an inventory of vocational qualifications in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2017, covering qualifications from Levels 2 to 5. It revealed that of the 1 155 qualifications reviewed, most were not based on learning outcomes. Moreover, more than half were developed in 1995 and 1996, and required revision.

Based on this analysis, the decision was made to include only newly developed and learning outcomes-based VET and higher education qualifications in the BQF. So far, 21 VET and five higher education qualifications have been included in the BQF.

Credit systems

Bosnia and Herzegovina joined the Bologna process in 2003. In 2006, all public universities began the process of implementing first and second cycle study programmes and the European credit transfer system (ECTS). ECTS has since been introduced in all higher education programmes.

A credit system is not described in detail for the other levels in the BQF document. ECVET is used for new VET qualifications as mentioned in the Manual for enhancement of VET qualifications, developed as part of the EU project Qualifications framework for lifelong learning, but implementation is still limited.

Governance and institutional arrangements for the NQF

Bosnia and Herzegovina has a complex and fragmented constitutional, legal and institutional landscape, which hinders implementation of the qualifications framework. The Dayton Peace Agreement of 1995 provided for a decentralised constitution, which poses challenges in creating a truly national qualifications framework with equal validity and application across the country (ETF, 2018).

The Ministry of Civil Affairs has a coordinating role in qualifications framework development and implementation, bringing together the relevant authorities from the Republika Srpska, the 10 cantons in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Brcko District.

The Council of Ministers established an Inter-sectoral Commission (ISC) ([9] Decision on the appointment of a commission for the development of the qualifications framework in Bosnia and Herzegovina.) in 2013 as an interim executive policy-making and executive structure. This body was intended to steer the qualifications framework's early development, including designing a detailed implementation action plan. The Council had planned that, in time, the ISC's decision-making functions would pass to a permanent governing body, working alongside MoCA, to manage the qualifications framework, and that the ISC would continue in an advisory capacity.

The Inter-sectoral Commission comprises 19 members. There are six members for each of the three major population groups – Bosniak, Croat and Serb - plus one member for minorities such as Roma; they represent education and training, the academic community, labour and employment, statistics institutions, and other social partners ([10] Members of the Inter-sectoral Commission include: five representatives of education sector (Ministry of Civil Affairs; two canton representatives; Ministry of Education and Culture of Republika Srpska; Education Department of the Government of the Brcko District); three representatives of the Rectors Conference; three representatives of education agencies (Agency for pre-school, primary and secondary education; Agency for the development of higher education and quality assurance and the Centre for information and recognition of documents in higher education); three representatives of the statistics sector (Agency for Statistics of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Federal Institute for Statistics, Institute for Statistics of Republika Srpska); three representatives of labour and employment (Ministry of Civil Affairs, Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, Ministry of Labour and Protection of Veterans and Disabled Persons of Republika Srpska); one representative from the Association of Employers and one representative of the Confederation of Labour Unions.). Its decisions are made by majority vote, requiring a minimum of two thirds of votes from the representatives of each constituent community. The Ministry of Civil Affairs chairs the ISC.

The ISC's first task was developing the qualifications framework action plan. The plan's provisions on institutional arrangements foresaw establishment of a permanent Qualifications Framework Council which would be a decision-making body, advised by the ISC and various technical expert groups, and cooperating with MoCA and the entities and cantons.

The technical expert groups would include sectoral councils, tasked to develop qualifications in specified sectors such as wood and metal processing. They currently operate on an ad-hoc basis, advising on request APOSO or bilateral donors when they are developing new VET qualifications.

However, for wider political reasons, the ISC itself has not sat since 2015; this has blocked progress in implementing much of the action plan, including the setting-up of the permanent Qualifications Framework Council. In the absence of a permanent governance system, temporary arrangements have been made. The Conference of Education Ministers in BiH and an ad-hoc referencing working group set up for the EQF referencing process, have tried to bridge the gap until the bodies foreseen by the action plan are put in place.

Roles and functions of actors and stakeholders

Since 2003, MoCA has been responsible for coordination of activities, harmonisation of plans of entity authorities and defining strategies at the international level and in the education field (Article 15 of the Law on ministries and other bodies of administration of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Official Gazette of BiH No 5/03).

MoCA is responsible for education policy at State level, in liaison with the international community and has a coordinating role in qualifications framework implementation. It also chairs the ISC and is designated to chair the planned Qualifications Framework Council.

The Agency for Development of Higher Education and Quality Assurance (HEA) is the lead institution for quality in higher education. It is an affiliated member of the European Association of Quality Assurance in Higher education (ENQA). It accredits public and private higher education institutions and updates quality assurance procedures to meet European standards and guidelines.

The Agency for Pre-primary, Primary, and Secondary Education (APOSO) has overall responsibility for quality in pre-university education. In cooperation with responsible education authorities, it develops education and occupational standards and guides curriculum development. Development of occupational standards is carried out mainly with the support of pedagogic institutes, companies and schools, and often with significant donor support.

VNFIL arrangements

There is no State-wide system in place for validation of non-formal and informal learning (VNFIL), but given the high rate of labour migration, authorities see recognition and validation as useful tools. Creating the pre-conditions for their development is one of the policy objectives for qualifications framework implementation and is among the activities outlined in the action plan ([11] Action plan for the development and implementation of the qualifications framework in Bosnia and Herzegovina for the period 2014-20 (Official Gazette of BiH, No 28/15). http://www.mcp.gov.ba/Content/Read/obrazovanje-dokumenti and www.eqf.ba ).

Two strategic documents were adopted by the Council of Ministers in 2014 as a basis for development of lifelong learning and for regulating adult learning: Principles and standards in the field of adult education in BiH and Strategic adult education development platform in the context of lifelong learning for the period 2014-20. A first concept for establishing country-wide VNFIL arrangements was developed in 2018, by a working group within the EU-funded project Qualifications framework for lifelong learning.

Two new EU-funded projects will both include a component on recognition of prior learning (RPL) to support the development of RPL in the country.

Key achievements and main findings

Qualifications from vocational education and training and higher education are being prioritised for inclusion in the qualifications framework, due to their potential to support employability. To date, 21 VET and five higher education qualifications have been included in the BQF.

However, levelling of greater numbers of qualifications is slowed by various factors. One reason is lack of capacity across the education and training system, as the country is generally dependent on donors for development of new qualifications. Another reason, related, is the wider political context, and the resulting education administrative, fragmentation, which hinders cooperation by the necessary actors.

Initiatives and developments in the different education and training sub-systems have been undertaken over recent years, mostly as part of EU-funded projects ([12] The proposal for the Bosnia and Herzegovina qualifications framework was developed as part of the EU VET III project, and the VET IV project developed vocational qualifications based on occupational standards, which were a new development in the country. A joint EU and Council of Europe project developed a good practice guide for development of qualifications and occupational standards in higher education. An IPA-funded project managed by the British Council (2014-16) sought to raise the quality of primary and general secondary education and to reform the school-leaving matura exam; the project prioritised training for teachers, pre- and in-service, in the primary and secondary education. ). The EU-funded project Qualifications framework for lifelong learning, which ran from March 2016 to June 2018, focused on several aspects of the qualifications framework, such as quality assurance, accreditation procedures, EQF referencing and validation of non-formal and informal learning.

A manual for enhancement of vocational qualifications was developed with involvement of representatives from all relevant education authorities and key partners; it is intended for all bodies involved in developing occupational and qualification standards, curricula and programmes, and in using learning outcomes ([13] http://www.cip.gov.ba/en/the-legislation). The criteria defined in the manual are considered when developing new qualifications.

Communication about the qualifications framework has so far been directed at stakeholders relevant to, and directly involved with, the development and implementation of related elements and processes. These included policy-makers in education and employment, teachers, students, education and employment agencies and employers. The main channels used were the websites of different ministries, social media, leaflets, conferences and workshops. A new website has been developed for further communication of the qualifications framework in relation to the EQF: https://eqf.ba/

As the qualifications framework is only at an early stage of implementation, no evaluation studies have been carried out to assess its impact. Given its major reforming role, qualifications framework implementation initiatives are starting to influence the introduction and use of learning outcomes, and the review, renewal and quality assurance of qualifications. The qualifications framework has helped formalise cooperation between stakeholders across education sub-sectors and institutions at different levels (political, technical, expert) and is seen as a solution for enhanced dialogue between stakeholders from education and training and those representing the labour market. It provides a basis for developing arrangements for validation of non-formal and informal learning and is expected to increase permeability in the education and training system and to support recognition of foreign qualifications.

Qualifications registers and databases

In addition to providing information on the qualifications framework and key documents, the web portal for the qualifications framework in Bosnia and Herzegovina includes databases of occupational standards and qualification standards in vocational education and training, and higher education, as basic elements of the qualifications framework. By the end of 2020, 23 occupational standards for VET and two for higher education had been included in the database. The database also includes the 21 VET and five higher education qualifications mentioned earlier.

Qualification documents

The Agency for Development of Higher Education and Quality Assurance issued in 2009 the Instruction on the form and content of diploma and diploma supplement issued by accredited higher education institutions (Official Gazette of Bosnia and Herzegovina, No 86/09). This instruction is obligatory for all competent education authorities and accredited higher education institutions.

Career information and guidance

Career guidance and counselling are under-developed across Bosnia and Herzegovina. Career counselling in education is mainly organised in secondary vocational schools and provided by psychologists and pedagogists. The public employment services offer career counselling as well, but the counsellors have extensive caseloads. Only a limited number of careers counsellors have received training in the use of the qualifications framework.

Recognition of foreign qualifications

The Centre for Information and Recognition of Qualifications in Higher Education is fully operational in BiH. The procedures of recognition of higher education qualifications in BiH are regulated primarily by the Convention on the recognition of qualifications concerning higher education and are prescribed by laws on recognition, laws on higher education, bylaws and statutes of higher education institutions.

In practice, there are still some differences between the 10 cantons, Republika Srpska and Brčko District. The previously adopted legislative acts have been neither coherent nor clear in terms of terminology, criteria, or prescribed procedures for recognition. A harmonisation process has started, led by Centre for Information and Recognition of Qualifications in Higher Education ([14] http://www.cip.gov.ba/en/the-legislation).

Referencing to regional frameworks

Bosnia and Herzegovina has been a full member of the EQF advisory group since 2015 and referencing the BQF to the EQF is considered a State-wide priority.

A final draft of the EQF referencing report has been produced and is awaiting adoption by the relevant authorities. It covers both referencing to the EQF and self-certification against the qualifications framework of the European higher education area (Bologna process). The state of play report was presented to the EQF advisory group in June 2019.

International cooperation

The Agency for Development of Higher Education and Quality Assurance is an affiliated member of the European Association of Quality Assurance in Higher education (ENQA). Full membership has not yet been granted.

International donor support

BiH receives financial assistance from the EU via the Instrument for pre-accession (IPA).

Initiatives and developments in the different education and training sub-systems have been undertaken over the past years, mostly as part of EU-funded projects ([15] The proposal for the Bosnia and Herzegovina qualifications framework was developed as part of the EU VET III project, and the VET IV project developed vocational qualifications based on occupational standards, which were a new development in the country. A joint EU and Council of Europe project developed a good practice guide for development of qualifications and occupational standards in higher education. An IPA-funded project managed by the British Council (2014-16) sought to raise the quality of primary and general secondary education and to reform the school-leaving matura exam; the project prioritised training for teachers, pre- and in-service, in the primary and secondary education. ). The EU-funded project Qualifications framework for lifelong learning, which ran from 2016 to 2018, addressed several elements of the BQF, including quality assurance, accreditation procedures, EQF referencing, and validation of non-formal and informal learning.

Both IPA16 and IPA19 will further support the development of occupational standards and RPL.

Different donors are involved in the development of occupational and qualification standards.

The BQF is an important development towards better education quality in Bosnia and Herzegovina, increased access to lifelong learning and more relevant qualifications for citizens and the labour market. Part of the country's efforts to gain EU membership, the qualifications framework is seen as contributing to the increased mobility, flexibility and competitiveness of the labour force ([16] Action plan for the development and implementation of the qualifications framework in Bosnia and Herzegovina for the period 2014-20 (Official Gazette of BiH, No 28/15). https://pjp-eu.coe.int/documents/1465728/8504223/7.+Action+Plan+BIH+QF.pdf/150757bf-2e65-4399-bd1d-d24c62815f41).

Implementation actions are, however, at an early stage and behind schedule. Technical work necessary to implement the qualifications framework action plan has started, primarily through EU-funded projects. Useful tools, such as methodologies for qualification development, provide the groundwork for improving quality assurance systems and setting up mechanisms for validation of non-formal and informal learning. However, donor-supported projects always have a limited timeframe and scope for intervention; sustained follow-up is necessary, with allocation of financial resources from national funds at all relevant levels of government.

Reform of vocational education and training and higher education is continuing, but quality of provision remains a challenge. Efforts should be made to increase the number of learning-outcomes-based qualifications and to revise curricula for existing qualifications. Procedures and criteria for placement of qualifications into the qualifications framework should be adopted and applied country-wide.

The complex institutional arrangements, which allow State institutions only very limited mandates, make the overall pace of reform slower than might otherwise be the case and represent the main challenge in qualifications framework implementation so far. Support is needed to re-establish the operational capacities of the Inter-sectoral Committee at technical level, and to create the Qualifications Framework Council as a permanent NQF structure at decision-making and policy level.

Covid-19 has forced suspension of many NQF implementation activities, including delivery, assessment and certification of qualifications in the NQF.

NQF levelQualification typesEQF level
N/A

Third cycle of higher education

Category
Type of education and training

Titles of qualifications and contents of diploma and diploma supplement for levels 6, 7 and 8 will, at a later stage, include relevant NQF/ EQF levels and will be further elaborated by the adoption of the Rulebook on use of academic titles and acquisition of scientific and professional titles.

Category
Qualification titles (position in the labour market)

PhD

Category
Award type (diploma / certificate / education level)

Doctorate diploma and Diploma supplement

Category
Award type (diploma / certificate / education level)
8
N/A

Second cycle of higher education

Category
Type of education and training

Titles of qualifications and contents of diploma and diploma supplement for levels 6, 7 and 8 will, at a later stage, include relevant NQF/ EQF levels and will be further elaborated by the adoption of the Rulebook on use of academic titles and acquisition of scientific and professional titles.

Category
Qualification titles (position in the labour market)

Master diploma (MA)

Category
Award type (diploma / certificate / education level)

Master level diploma and Diploma supplement

Category
Award type (diploma / certificate / education level)
7
N/A

First cycle of higher education

Category
Type of education and training

Titles of qualifications and contents of diploma and diploma supplement for levels 6, 7 and 8 will, at a later stage, include relevant NQF/ EQF levels and will be further elaborated by the adoption of the Rulebook on use of academic titles and acquisition of scientific and professional titles.

Category
Qualification titles (position in the labour market)

Bachelor diploma (BA)

Category
Award type (diploma / certificate / education level)

Diploma issued by the institution of higher education

Category
Award type (diploma / certificate / education level)
6
N/A

Postsecondary education, including master craftsman exams and similar exams

Category
Type of education and training

Highly skilled worker specialised for a certain occupation

Category
Qualification titles (position in the labour market)

Diploma/certificate of completed post-secondary education or passed master craftsman exam and/or similar exam for a certain occupation, with a supplement

Category
Award type (diploma / certificate / education level)
5
N/A

Secondary general education

Category
Type of education and training

Secondary technical education

Category
Type of education and training

Generally skilled worker

Category
Qualification titles (position in the labour market)

Specialised skilled worker for a technical and related occupation

Category
Qualification titles (position in the labour market)

Secondary School graduation diploma with a supplement

Category
Award type (diploma / certificate / education level)

Diploma/Certificate of secondary graduation with a supplement

Category
Award type (diploma / certificate / education level)
4
N/A

Vocational education and training

Category
Type of education and training

Skilled worker for a certain occupation

Category
Qualification titles (position in the labour market)

Diploma/certificate of final examination (matriculation) with practical work, including a supplement

Category
Award type (diploma / certificate / education level)
3
N/A

Occupational training programmes

Category
Type of education and training

Low-skilled worker

Category
Qualification titles (position in the labour market)

Certificate on completed programme or education for lower-level occupational qualifications

Category
Award type (diploma / certificate / education level)
2
N/A

Elementary education

Category
Type of education and training

Unskilled worker

Category
Qualification titles (position in the labour market)

Certificate on completed elementary education (nine years)

Category
Award type (diploma / certificate / education level)
1

APOSO

Agency for Pre-primary, Primary and Secondary Education

BiH

Bosnia and Herzegovina

BQF

baseline qualification framework

ECTS

European credit transfer and accumulation system

ENQA

European association for quality assurance in higher education

EQF

European qualifications framework

HEA

Agency for development of Higher Education and Quality Assurance

ISC

Intersectoral Committee

MoCA

Ministry of Civil Affairs

NQF

national qualifications framework

QF-EHEA

qualifications framework for the European higher education area

RPL

recognition of prior learning

VET

vocational education and training

VNFIL

validation of non-formal and informal learning

[URLs accessed 20.1.2021]

Adam S., Dželalija, M. (2015) Manual for development and use of qualification standards and occupations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. https://pjp-eu.coe.int/bih-higher-education/images/manual_eng.pdf

Cedefop (2020). National qualifications framework developments in Europe 2019 – Qualifications frameworks: transparency and added value for end users. Luxembourg: Publications Office. https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/publications/4190

Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina (2015) Action plan for the development and implementation of the qualifications framework in Bosnia and Herzegovina for the period 2014-20. https://eqf.ba/dokumenti/

IMF (2020). IMF World economic outlook database, October 2020. https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/WEO/weo-database/2020/October.

Krajišnik, M.; Popović, S. (2019). Export competitiveness of the economic sectors of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Economic Themes. Vol 57(4) pp. 433-457. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/341644378_Export_Competitiveness_of_the_Economic_Sectors_of_Bosnia_and_Herzegovina

OECD (2020). The Covid-19 crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina. OECD Covid-19 note, 30 July 2020. https://www.oecd.org/south-east-europe/COVID-19-Crisis-in-Bosnia-and-Herzegovina.pdf

Overview of laws and strategic plans http://www.mcp.gov.ba/Content/Read/obrazovanje-dokumenti

Overview

Stage of development:
NQF linked to EQF:
Scope of the framework:
Designed as a comprehensive NQF for lifelong learning including all levels and types of qualification from formal education and training. Open to those awarded outside formal education and training.
Number of levels:
Eight

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