Levels of the Polish Qualifications Framework (PQF) refer to the level of competence in a given area, i.e. they tell us, what the level of self-reliance of the person with a given qualification is. The level of the Polish Qualifications Framework depends on the learning outcomes required for a given qualification. Learning outcomes should be understood as the scope of knowledge, skills and social competence required of qualified individuals. The process of assigning the level of the PQF may be summarised in the following items:
- A team of experts is appointed at the ministry level.
- The team prepares a recommendation.
- The Integrated Qualifications System Stakeholders Board (or the Ministry of Science and Higher Education) works towards obtaining an opinion.
- The minister assigns a PQF level.
Each qualification incorporated in the Integrated Qualifications System (IQS) must have a PQF level assigned to it. With the PQF levels assigned, it is easier to draw comparisons between various qualifications awarded in Poland and between Polish qualifications and those awarded abroad. PQF levels are assigned to various partial qualifications incorporated into the IQS according to rules clearly specified in the relevant act. The said rules are an important factor increasing the credibility and transparency of the qualifications incorporated into the IQS and ensure the uniformity of the entire system. The information on the PQF level is placed in the document confirming the attainment of a given qualification (a certificate, a diploma, a professional certificate, etc.). A symbol indicating the PQF level is to be found exclusively on documents confirming the awarding of qualifications included in the Integrated Qualifications System. In Poland, this symbol has been applied for several years now on matriculation certificates.
What are partial qualifications?
In line with the act on the IQS, partial qualifications are defined as:
- qualifications awarded following graduation from postgraduate studies,
- market qualifications (including those awarded after graduation from forms or education, other than postgraduate studies, offered by higher education institutions, scientific institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences and research institutes),
- regulated qualifications,
- craftsman’s qualifications,
- qualifications separated for particular professions within the vocational education system.
Rules for determining the PQF level
In the IQS, the PQF level for a partial qualification is determined based on a comparison of the learning outcomes required for this qualification with the descriptions of levels in the Polish Qualifications Framework. It shall be irrelevant for the determination of the PQF level whether the learning outcomes required in the case of a given qualification have been attained through organised education or otherwise. Based on the comparison drawn between the required learning outcomes and the descriptions of levels, the most suitable PQF level is determined for the qualification in question. Thus, a PQF level may be assigned to a partial qualification, provided the learning outcomes required for this qualification can be compared with the descriptions of levels included in the PQF.
Essentially, a PQF level is assigned to partial qualifications if learning outcomes required in the case of a given qualification have been described according to the following structure:
- a synthetic description of the learning outcomes,
- separated sets of learning outcomes,
- particular learning outcomes in groups along with the criteria for the assessment of the attainment of particular learning outcomes.
The requirement of describing the learning outcomes in line with the above-mentioned structure shall not apply to qualifications under the vocational education system or awarded following graduation from postgraduate studies as well as regulated qualifications temporarily incorporated into the IQS.
Who determines the PQF level for partial qualifications?
According to the act on the IQS, collective bodies play a key role in the decision-making process regarding the assignment of the PQF level to partial qualifications. An appointed team of experts compares the learning outcomes required for a given qualification with the descriptions of levels in the PQF and based on this comparison, prepares a recommendation regarding the level to be assigned. The recommendation is binding for the authority making the official decision regarding the assignment of the PQF level to the qualification. The relevant ordinance stipulates the rules applicable to functioning of the team of experts and to comparing learning outcomes with descriptions of levels in the PQF.