On 1February 2012,theBulgarian governmentapprovedtheNationalQualificationsFramework (NQF). It has been developed following the Recommendation of the European Parliament and the Council for establishment of the European qualifications framework (EQF) for lifelong learning.

The national NQFs relate their qualification levels to the levels set out in the EQF. This helps to improve the transparency and recognition of qualifications in Europe; supports the mobility of learners and workers; encourages the achievement of unified training quality criteria; and facilitates the validation and transfer of non-formal and informal learning outcomes.

The NQF of Bulgaria encompasses the whole education system and all its qualifications. It includes nine levels, including level zero (preparatory level). Levels 1 to 4 correspond to the stages of education and qualification acquisition within the systems of general and vocational education and training. Level 5 includes training at a vocational college for acquisition of the fourth level of vocational qualification after the completion of secondary education. Levels 6 to 8 relate to qualifications acquired in the higher education system: ‘bachelor’s’, ‘master’s’ and ‘doctorate’. The separate levels are defined on the basis of a learning outcomes-oriented approach. They are described in terms of knowledge (theoretical and/or practical) and competences (personal and professional).

Following a government decision, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Science has been designated as the competent body for supporting and updating the NQF.

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