The CROQF is a qualifications and a credit framework. Each qualification in the framework is defined in terms of profile (field of work or study), reference level (complexity of acquired competences) and volume/workload (credit points) ( Three credit systems are used to measure the volume of qualifications and of learning outcomes: the Croatian credit system for general education (HROO), the European credit system for vocational education and training (ECVET), and the European credit transfer and accumulation system for higher education (ECTS).). Qualifications can be full and partial. The CROQF has eight reference levels, in line with the EQF, but with three additional sublevels at levels 4, 7 and 8. Level descriptors are defined in terms of knowledge (theoretical and factual); skills (cognitive, practical and social skills); and responsibility and autonomy. Although some key competences are explicitly indicated in the CROQF, it is emphasised that key competences should be included in each qualification (Croatian Ministry of Science, Education and Sports, Agency for Science and Higher Education, 2014).
Initially, sublevels for levels 4 and 8 were agreed to cater for existing Croatian qualifications of different workload and complexity. For example, a qualification with a minimum of 180 ECVET and/or HROO points (from which a minimum of 120 ECVET and/or HROO points are required at the fourth reference level or higher) is referenced to level 4.1. For a qualification at level 4.2, a minimum of 240 ECVET and/or HROO points are required (a minimum of 150 ECVET and/or HROO points at the fourth reference level or higher) (Croatian Ministry of Science, Education and Sports, Agency for Science and Higher Education, 2014).
Sublevels of level 7 were recently introduced. According to the 2013 CROQF Act, level 7 included graduate university studies (sveučilišni diplomski studiji), specialist graduate professional studies (specijalistički diplomski stručni studiji) and post-master specialist university studies (poslijediplomski specijalistički studiji). Following public debate, the CROQF Act was revised in 2018 (Croatian Ministry of Science and Education, 2018), splitting level 7 into sublevel 7.1 which now covers graduate university studies (sveučilišni diplomski studiji) and specialist graduate professional studies (specijalistički diplomski stručni studiji); and sublevel 7.2 which includes post-master specialist university studies (poslijediplomski specijalistički studiji) (European Commission and Cedefop, 2018). While keeping the two qualification types (academic and professional) at the same level (7.1), this amendment limits access to doctoral programmes for graduates of professional studies (European Commission, 2017). Entry requirements for level 8.2 were also redefined with the amended CROQF Act ( The entry requirement for level 8.2 (postgraduate university doctoral studies) is a qualification acquired on completion of a graduate university degree, fulfilment of conditions defined in a regulation adopted by a university or university component and conditions defined in the study programme of the university or the university component. Exceptionally, the university can define another previously acquired qualification as entry requirement providing that an additional programme was completed in the university.).
The CROQF plays a central role in developing and implementing the learning outcomes approach in all subsystems of education and training, building on the reforms so far. Strengthening learning outcomes is supported by major stakeholder groups and mentioned in the Strategy for education, science and technology (Croatian Parliament, 2014) as central to the CROQF role in increasing quality assurance of education and training and in responding to the demands of the labour market. Learning outcomes are the main element of any qualification and they are organised in units/modules of learning outcomes. This is seen as giving transparency to qualifications and having a positive impact on transfer and accumulation of learning outcomes across sectors and institutions (European Commission and Cedefop, 2018).
The CROQF also establishes competence-based occupational standards and learning-outcomes-based qualifications standards as the basis for accreditation of programmes developed in line with the CROQF methodology ( Development of occupational and qualifications standards based on learning outcomes has been supported through IPA and ESF projects, including through workshops on the use and assessment of learning outcomes.). Occupational standards are developed through research-based analysis of labour market needs, particularly the Occupational standard survey, a questionnaire completed by employers. Occupational standards are then the basis for developing qualifications standards for qualifications aimed at the labour market. Qualifications standards developed for other purposes (pursuing further education, other individual or societal needs) are not based on the occupational standards. Qualifications standards entered in the CROQF register are the basis for developing and redesigning education and training programmes. At present, aligning programmes with qualifications standards in the CROQF register is not mandatory but is a mark of programme quality, transparency and relevance, leading to a qualification with an assigned CROQF/EQF level.
The learning outcomes approach has been gradually introduced in VET since 2006. The amended Act on Vocational Education and Training ( The amended Act on VET is available at: https://www.zakon.hr/z/383/Zakon-o-strukovnom-obrazovanju (in Croatian).), in force since March 2018, defines occupational and qualifications standards in compliance with the CROQF Act. VET curricula are developed according to occupational and qualifications standards. In 2018, the dual model of VET education was launched experimentally for particular qualifications as a model based on the cooperation between education institutions and employers. Regional centres of competence were appointed to make VET more attractive.
The State matura was introduced in 2010 as an obligatory final exam (including Croatian language, mathematics, the first foreign language and the mother tongue for ethnic minority pupils) for gymnasium graduates and as an optional choice for VET graduates on completion of four-year programmes. In 2018, the experimental reform programme School for life began in general education, aimed to prepare students for challenges they face in life.
Higher education has undergone extensive change in the last decade, including strengthening the learning outcomes dimension. The decision (2001) to take part in the Bologna process made it necessary for Croatia to adjust its higher education system significantly. Introduction of undergraduate (first cycle) and graduate (second cycle) programmes started in 2005. The change in curricula is intended to develop competences needed on the labour market. The CROQF is thought to be the main instrument for bridging higher education and the labour market (European Commission, 2017). A number of occupational and qualification standards in higher education have already been developed and are to be assessed by the sectoral councils (European Commission and Cedefop, 2018).