Liechtenstein has committed to an integrating national qualifications framework for lifelong learning for Liechtenstein (NQFL) (Ministry of Education (2017). The first phase of implementation focuses on formal education in VET and HE, underpinned by two sectoral qualifications frameworks: one encompassing HE qualifications (NQFL-HS), adopted in 2013, and one for vocational education (NQFL-BBV), in force since January 2018.Having both sectoral frameworks integrated in the NQFL offers opportunities to integrate further non-formal and informal learning outcomes. General education qualifications are not included in the NQFL.
The NQFL has reached activation stage, implementation structures are in place, main working methods and instruments being put in place and end-users being made aware of the existence of the NQF and related services. The NQF is a reference point for the use of learning outcomes and plays a role in improving transparency and comparability of qualifications at national and international levels. The NQF for higher education (NQFL-HE) is already operational.
An important characteristic of the NQFL is that levels 6 to 8 are also open to higher vocational qualifications awarded outside higher education as a separate strand next to higher education qualifications.
Figure 1. Y-Model of NQFL
Source: Ministry of Education (2017).
The process of assigning vocational and professional qualifications a level is carried out by Switzerland. By February 2021 a total of 588 formal vocational and professional qualifications had been attributed levels in Switzerland: 245 IVET qualifications, mostly distributed to levels 3 and 4; and 340 professional qualifications, at levels 5 to 7; and three to level 8. The process is expected to continue ( For more information please consult the chapter on Switzerland in the NQF European inventory 2020.).
As defined in the ordinance on NQFL-BBV (Article 7), the Liechtenstein Government has to approve the inclusion and the level of a qualification, in a separate procedure, and can take into account those qualifications assigned by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) in Switzerland. So far, the Liechtenstein Government has approved 88 qualifications out of 120 (NQFL website).
Figure 2 outlines the main steps in the levelling process.
Figure 2. Main steps of the levelling process
Source: Ministry of Education (2017), p. 29.
For public involvement and information, the NQFL website (Nationaler Qualifikationsrahmen Fürstentum Liechtenstein) was established in spring 2013, providing information and updates ( NQFL website.).
Liechtenstein doesn't have a fully fledged qualifications database or register yet. On the NQFL website there is a section, diploma supplement, where vocational qualifications are registered with links to supplements including the NQFL and EQF levels ( NQFL website.). These levels are indicated on certificates/diplomas and supplements in initial VET and higher education.
NQFL plays an important role for comparability and transparency of qualifications with the other European countries. It also supports the recognition of foreign qualifications, as Liechtenstein recruits 50% of their workers from the neighbouring countries (European Commission and Cedefop 2020).
Education providers particularly benefit from greater transparency. With its focus on competences, the NQFL supports transparent descriptions of expected learning outcomes in programmes and assessment and can thus make an important contribution to quality assurance in education. As the education market is international, EQF and NQFL also open up new options for international offers and cooperation in education (AIBA).