The MQF is operational; key documents and responsibilities for its implementation have been agreed among stakeholders and published ( See the relevant legislation at the end of this report: Government of Malta (2012a), (2012b) and (2012f).). The MQF forms an integrated part of the overall national qualification system, including links to relevant legislation and policy strategies, the National lifelong learning strategy 2020 ( See Maltese Ministry of Education and Employment (2014b). ), the National literacy strategy for all in Malta and Gozo 2014-19 ( https://education.gov.mt/en/Documents/Literacy/ENGLISH.pdf) and the Strategic plan for the prevention of early school leaving in Malta 2014 ( https://lifelonglearning.gov.mt/dbfile.aspx?id=47).
The main body responsible for the MQF is the NCFHE (the former MQC and the NCHE merged in 2012); it decides which qualifications and awards to include in the framework. This agency stipulates strategic policies for further and higher education, promotes and maintains the MQF, accredits and licenses all further (post-secondary) and higher education institutions and programmes, and assists training providers in designing qualifications, assessment and certification. The Directorate for Quality and Standards in Education (based at the Ministry of Education and Employment) is responsible for quality assurance and standards in compulsory education.
Qualifications and awards included in the MQF should satisfy the following conditions (Government of Malta 2012c):
- be issued by nationally accredited institutions;
- be based on learning outcomes;
- be internally and externally quality assured;
- be based on workload composed of identified credit value;
- be awarded on successful completion of formal assessment procedures.
The term 'qualification' refers to substantial courses based on learning outcomes at the respective MQF level and a required minimum number of credits, whereas 'award' refers to courses which fulfil the level of learning, but not the requirement in terms of minimum credits. The terms are used to distinguish between 'full qualifications' and shorter courses at the respective level.
Following the setting up of the ESF project 1227 Making quality visible ( ESF project 1227 Making quality visible. https://ncfhe.gov.mt/en/Pages/Projects/ESF%201.227%20Making%20Quality%20Visible/esf1227_making_quality_visible.aspx ), the NCFHE has established the national quality assurance framework (NCFHE, 2015a), which sets the standards for internal and external quality assurance for all further and higher education providers. Another key deliverable was the manual of procedures for external quality assurance ( See NCFHE (2016c). ), which set out procedures for the implementation of external quality audits. In 2015, the first three pilot external audits were conducted with the University of Malta, MCAST and ITS ( https://ncfhe.gov.mt/en/services/Pages/All%20Services/eqaa.aspx ). The outcomes of the external audit pilots contributed to the development of a quality assurance system to be adapted for validation. The quality assurance arrangements have not changed since 2016, with the NCFHE remaining the designated competent authority for licensing, accreditation and quality assurance of providers and programmes, including cross-border provision from Malta or in Malta. The Quality Assurance Department, within the Directorate for Curriculum, Lifelong Learning and Employability will also provide quality assurance support ( https://education.gov.mt/en/education/quality-assurance/Pages/default.aspx).
A register of accredited further and higher education institutions and a national register of qualifications have been set up ( https://ncfhe.gov.mt/en/register/Pages/register.aspx). Qualifications from VET and higher education have been included in the national register, as well as non-formal and private ones. International qualifications have not yet been included. MQF and EQF levels are included in new certificates and diplomas and Europass supplements. The Malta College for Arts, Sciences and Technology and the University of Malta use NQF (and EQF) levels on certificate and diploma supplements.
The national colloquium is expected to launch the revised national qualifications database in the next year ( This will allow for both the presentation of the findings from the review and linking it with available, accredited programmes so that individuals interested in developing their education in digital skills will find it easy to find relevant accredited programmes.). In November 2018, stakeholders discussed the development of a new qualification database, the introduction of the sectoral framework and the setting up of a new working group, which will also be composed of licenced educational providers as partners.
The NCFHE also maintains the register of accredited further and higher education institutions ( Both registers are available at: http://ncfhe.gov.mt/en/register/Pages/register.aspx), in accordance with Subsidiary Legislation 327.433 on licensing, accreditation and quality assurance ( See Government of Malta (2012a). ). The growth in licence holders from 30 in 2007 to 140 in 2016 has necessitated the publication of this register. It also includes a list of accredited courses offered by licensed institutions with reference to both the MQF and the EQF. This register highlights the level of each course accredited and is updated weekly.
An effective network to promote use of the NQF has been established with employers by the NCFHE through its qualifications recognition information centre. Both employers and individuals are invited to attend information sessions and seminars where they are given information about the Malta qualifications framework and other developments in further and higher education.
Other methods of informing potential users about the framework include social media and the NCFHE website, which is continuously updated, as well as dissemination of information posters, leaflets and an explanatory video to public and private education institutions, local councils, and other government entities. Jobsplus ( Previously known as the Employment and Training Corporation: https://jobsplus.gov.mt/) also uses the MQF as its main criterion for issuing work permits, and MQF levels are used in incentive schemes such as scholarships and tax rebates (Cedefop, 2017). The NCFHE intends to cooperate with the Europass and Euroguidance contact points in Malta. Employers use the MQF in their recruitment and career development practices and the public sector specifies the required MQF level in its vacancy notices (Cedefop, 2017). There is a planned communication strategy that will include the dissemination of a joint leaflet for the three networks in exhibitions and fairs and an update of the MQF's website.
The Malta qualifications framework is used by education and training institutions and providers, guidance and counselling practitioners, though the level of awareness differs. A study on the widespread understanding and appreciation of the Malta qualifications framework (MQF) and the European qualifications framework (EQF) ( See NCFHE (2016b). ) was conducted by NCFHE in 2016. Its aim was to identify the level of usefulness and methods of use of the MQF as well as its link to the EQF. One of the key messages of the study was that while the level of awareness of the MQF was high (6.9 out of 10), the awareness of the link between the MQF and the EQF was lower (6.61 out of 10). Awareness was greater for those making regular use of the MQF. The role of academics and parents as multipliers of information on the MQF and its link to the EQF remained limited. This stresses the importance of direct and regular engagement with both frameworks to ensure good public awareness. Respondents to the survey stressed the need for the MQF to contribute to simplifying and accelerating accreditation, recognition and validation processes for the benefit of all involved (NCFHE, 2016b).
Another message was that MQF needs to strike an adequate balance between its institutional and intrinsic logic to ensure that it is flexible enough to encompass all learning. The rationale which underpins the design and implementation of the NQF should correspond to the ways in which education institutions, employers and others actually use and value qualifications (Raffe, 2009). In connection to the study, further research is to be conducted under the EQF-NCP 2018-20 project. This includes focusing on review of MQF operating procedures, the body in charge of it, and consultation with stakeholders.
A consultation committee is expected to be set up to review the framework and its impact. The committee will be supported in its work by the MQF Coordinator as this will assist the scheduling, organising and reporting of the meetings held. The results of the committee meetings will advise the NCFHE on the development of a systematic review mechanism for the MQF, the implementation of impact assessment, and recommendations for revisions of the MQF arising from such an impact assessment.