NQF scope and structure
The TQF has eight levels and includes all types and levels of qualifications and certification. Its level descriptors are described in terms of learning outcomes and use the domains knowledge, skills and competence.
Knowledge is defined as theoretical and/or factual knowledge requiring comprehension of facts, principles, theories, and practices related to an area of work or learning.
Skill is defined as 'utilisation of knowledge' and 'problem solving', which requires the ability to use logical, intuitive, and creative thinking and dexterity, methods, materials, tools, and instruments acquired in an area of work or learning.
Competence is defined as use of knowledge and skills in an area of work or learning by taking responsibility and/or displaying autonomy, determination, and satisfaction of learning requirements.
The TQF primarily includes:
- qualifications awarded under the Ministry of National Education (MoNE), spanning its respective Directorates for basic education, special education and guidance services, secondary education, vocational and technical education, lifelong learning, and religious education;
- qualifications awarded under the mandate of the Vocational Qualifications Authority (VQA) by the 239 authorised certification bodies (frequently called by their acronym ACBs);
- higher education qualifications awarded under the coordination and supervision of the Council of Higher Education (CoHE).
In time, the TQF will include other qualifications awarded under the mandate of certain responsible institutions. Currently, the TQF database includes 51 other qualifications types which are not yet formally included in the TQF; many qualifications are developed and used but not counted for the NQF. Currently the number of qualifications in the database but not in the NQF approaches 29 000.
The inclusion of micro-credentials has not been proposed yet.
Types of qualifications
Qualification types enable the categorisation of different qualifications placed at the same level but differing significantly in terms of their functions, learning outcomes, volume and/or orientations.
An example of a qualification type is the level 5 associate degree, offered in post-secondary or higher VET, where Turkey has significant provision. Universities and colleges (MYOs) offer level 5 associate degrees, which may be academic or more vocational in orientation. These fall within the remit of the Council of Higher Education.
Another qualification type at level 5 is the vocational qualification certificate, awarded by the industry-linked authorised certification bodies.
A type at level 4 is the vocational upper secondary education diploma, usually awarded to successful students after four years at upper secondary vocational or technical high school, or sometimes at vocational education centres, multi-programme high schools and private vocational schools.
The mastery certificate is awarded to those successfully completing an apprenticeship programme.
The skilled worker certificate also appears at level 4.
There are several qualification types in the TQF which were updated recently after discussions with the responsible bodies. Types have been identified with qualification type descriptors ( https://tyc.gov.tr/yayinlar?kategoriId=17ea6ce7-8885-4f2d-aaa4-174a0833a09c&search=); interpretation of them is continuing.
Quality assurance of qualifications
All qualifications that are part of the TQF must be quality-assured and expressed in learning outcomes.
In 2018, the regulation on the quality assurance of qualifications to be included in the TQF was adopted. It stipulates that quality assurance systems shall meet the following criteria:
- a qualification form is prepared and approved;
- valid and reliable assessment and evaluation processes are carried out;
- certification processes are conducted in a transparent and impartial way;
- processes related to the qualifications are subject to self-assessment and external evaluation;
- units, teams or bodies conducting the external evaluation are subject to regular review;
- improvement activities are carried out in line with the findings of self-assessment and external evaluation;
- involvement of stakeholders is maintained in the processes related to the qualifications;
- processes related to qualifications are implemented based on explicit and measurable objectives, criteria and guidelines;
- allocation of sufficient and appropriate resources for all processes is maintained;
- feedback mechanisms are established and implemented;
- electronic accessibility to the outcomes of all processes is maintained.
The Ministry of National Education (MoNE) is responsible for development of qualifications under its mandate. MoNE has launched curriculum reform in secondary education, for both general and vocational and technical schools. Vocational curricula are modularised and MoNE has a database of more than 3 500 modules that are also used for the licensing and certification of adult learning.
Although curricula are advanced, most initial vocational qualifications are not yet utilised and fully learning outcomes-based. Modules based on learning outcomes are used for learning, but they are not separately assessed and often lack an assessment component.
VQA accredits the authorised certification bodies (ACBs), which conduct assessment, evaluation and certification of candidates for the vocational qualification certificate type mentioned above. These ACBs are first accredited by Türkak, the Turkish accreditation agency that deals with accrediting conformity with international industry and service standards, using the ISO 17024 standard on personnel certification.
The Council of Higher Education (CoHE) coordinates and supervises development of higher education qualifications awarded by higher education institutes. The higher education qualifications framework is a sub-framework within the TQF that is already functioning. National working groups for different fields of learning define common outcomes as a guideline for qualification and curriculum developers.
Use of learning outcomes and standards
Learning outcomes are the underpinning principle of the TQF. According to the TQF regulation, the TQF must ensure that qualifications are based on learning outcomes to make qualifications transparent and comparable.
Modules of the VET training programmes of MoNE are all defined by learning outcomes. However, MoNE VET programmes do not yet have separate qualification specifications defined by learning outcomes. This situation has created a challenge in populating the qualifications database with qualifications.
VQA is the competent authority for preparing national occupational standards and national qualifications. Qualifications under VQA's mandate are based on occupational standards and learning outcomes.
General education qualifications developed under MoNE's mandate are not always defined by learning outcomes.
In higher education, all qualifications are based on learning outcomes. There are precise outcome statements for specific programme types by level and academic or professional orientation in the Turkish qualifications database.
A credit system should support TQF aims of facilitating learner access to, and progress between, qualifications by using credit-rated learning outcomes to compare and link qualifications and transfer outcomes.
Turkey seeks to apply both the European systems: ECTS in higher education and ECVET for VET.
ECTS is used in higher education in accordance with the principles of the ECTS user guide ( https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/eurydice/sites/eurydice/files/ehea_bologna_2020.pdf). Turkey has also actively explored the possibilities of ECVET.
The TQF Council proposes an evaluation and credit system associated with workload that will allow credit accumulation and transfer. The proposed metric for the qualifications to be included in the TQF is 60 credits as the value ascribed to a learning period of 1 500 to 1 800 hours. This approach complies with both ECTS and ECVET. The regulating bodies will determine the credit range of the qualification types and the credit values of the qualifications.
Although the principles and procedures for the credit transfer systems were planned to be developed by mid-2019, they have not yet been published. The withdrawal of the ECVET recommendation regarding the use of ECVET points may require Turkey to reposition its own approach to allocation of credits.