In the course of work on the Integrated Qualification System, a number of concepts were developed to facilitate communication about issues relating to the IQS among its various stakeholder communities. Some of these concepts are defined in the Act on the Integrated Qualifications System, and all are listed in the “Glossary of the Integrated Qualifications System” (in Polish).
Key Terms in the IQS::
A separate part of the national qualifications system, governed by the standards specified in the IQS Act on: describing qualifications and assigning PQF levels to qualifications; including qualifications in the Integrated Qualifications System and registering them in the Integrated Qualifications Register; as well as the principles and standards of awarding qualifications and ensuring the quality of awarded qualifications.
The Integrated Qualification System encompasses a large part of Polish qualifications, which are included in the system by law or may be included by a decision of the relevant minister.
A public register that lists the qualifications included in the Integrated Qualifications System. The presence of a qualification in the Register means that its reliability has been confirmed by public authorities and that it has a specific PQF level. Qualifications that are not included in the IQS cannot be entered into the IQR. Information on the qualifications listed in the IQR are accessible to the public through the IQR portal.
Description of eight levels of qualifications in Poland corresponding to the relevant levels of the European Qualifications Framework, formulated with the use of general descriptors of learning outcomes for qualifications at each level in the categories of knowledge, skills and social competence. In short, the Polish Qualifications Framework is a description of the national structure of qualifications’ levels in the IQS.
The scope and complexity of required learning outcomes for a qualification at a given level, formulated by general descriptions of the learning outcomes, known as “descriptors”. There are eight levels in the PQF that directly correspond to the eight levels of the European Qualifications Framework. All qualifications included in the IQS have a PQF level. Qualifications of the narrowest scope and lowest degree of complexity are assigned PQF level 1, consecutive PQF levels are associated with ever higher requirements.
Description of the levels of qualifications in a given sector or industry; the levels of a sectoral qualifications framework correspond to the relevant levels of the Polish Qualifications Framework. Qualifications level descriptors of sectoral frameworks may be less general than those of the PQF, as they take into account the contexts specific to the given field.
Sectoral qualifications frameworks are developed only in those fields where they are needed. A sectoral qualifications framework may be included in the IQS if it meets the conditions set forth in the IQS Act.
Knowledge, skills and social competences attained through the learning process. Simply stated, the concept of learning outcomes can be explained as what a person knows and understands, is able to do, and the responsibilities that a person is ready to assume. Individual learning outcomes can be specific to a given qualification or universal. They can refer to key competences or general ones.
A collection of descriptions of objects and facts, principles, theories, and practices acquired in a learning process that relates to a field of learning or professional activity. The term “knowledge” in the context of the IQS is one of the three categories of learning outcomes distinguished in the PQF.
Individual categories of learning outcomes in the PQF (knowledge, skills, social competence) cannot be completely separated because the learning outcomes referred to as knowledge always include a certain component of skills, skills always contain certain elements of knowledge, and social competence is always made up of some skills and knowledge. It should also be remembered that in everyday language (also in some publications and documents), words such as knowledge, skills, competences and qualifications are often used interchangeably.
The ability to perform tasks and solve problems specific to a field of learning or professional activity attained through the learning process. Skills in the context of the IQS are one of the three categories of learning outcomes distinguished in the PQF. The individual categories of learning outcomes in the PQF (knowledge, skills, social competence) cannot be separated because the learning outcomes for knowledge always include a certain component of skills, skills always contain some elements of knowledge, and social competence is always made up of some skills and knowledge.
A part of the learning process, social competence refers to the ability to shape one’s own development, as well as to the autonomous and responsible participation in professional life and society, taking into account the ethical context of one’s own behaviour. Used in the context of the IQS, social competence is one of the three categories of learning outcomes distinguished in the PQF. The individual categories of learning outcomes in the PQF (knowledge, skills, social competence) cannot be regarded separately because the learning outcomes for knowledge always include a certain component of skills, skills always contain some elements of knowledge, and social competence is always made up of some skills and knowledge.
A set of learning outcomes in the categories of knowledge, skills and social competence, acquired through formal education, non-formal education and informal learning, in accordance with a given qualification’s requirements, whose attainment was assessed through validation and formally confirmed by an authorised awarding body. In short, a qualification is a defined set of learning outcomes – in accordance with established standards – whose attainment is formally confirmed by an authorised institution. Within the context of the IQS, the term “qualification” cannot be used interchangeably with such words as “occupation”, “professional privileges”, “the right to perform an occupation”, “professional competencies”, “competencies”, etc.
Qualifications established by separate regulations that are awarded based on those regulations, excluding qualifications awarded in the formal general, vocational and higher education systems. In short, regulated qualifications are qualifications established by law that are awarded outside the formal general, vocational and higher education systems. They are essential in the labour market and complement the more basic qualifications attained in the formal general, vocational and higher education systems. The requirements for the learning outcomes of regulated qualifications relate to clearly defined types of activities.
Regulated qualifications may be included in the IQS, but this is not required. The relevant minister for the qualification decides on its inclusion. All regulated qualifications included in the IQS are partial qualifications.
In short, partial qualifications are all those qualifications included in the IQS that are not full qualifications. Partial qualifications can be developed by the formal general, vocational and higher education systems as well as outside them. Partial qualifications generally have a narrower range of required learning outcomes than full qualifications. In general, these requirements are related to clearly defined types of activities. All regulated and non-statutory (market) qualifications included in the IQS are partial qualifications. Partial qualifications awarded in the education system include, among others, occupational qualifications (confirmed by a certificate). Partial qualifications in the higher education system can be, among others, qualifications awarded after the completion of postgraduate studies and included in the IQS.
Market qualifications are those that are not regulated by legal provisions and awarded on the basis of the freedom of economic activities. A market qualification is a qualification developed by different communities (social organisations, associations, corporations or other entities) on the basis of their experiences. In this context, the word “market” means that these qualifications originate and function in the “free market” of qualifications.
Market qualifications may be included in the IQS, but this is not required. Inclusion is determined by the relevant minister responsible for the qualification in response to an initiative of the community concerned.
Validation is the process of assessing that a person seeking to have a given qualification awarded has attained a distinct set or all of the learning outcomes required for the qualification, irrespective of how they were acquired. Validation is a multidimensional and multi-stage process that involves identifying, documenting and assessing the learning outcomes of a given person. Identification and documentation are particularly important for those persons who have been learning outside of organised forms of education. A clear indication of assessment criteria adapted to the character of the learning outcomes is crucial to ensure the reliability of validation.
The process by which a learner receives a formal document from an authorised institution stating that a qualification has been attained. Certification, also known as “awarding a qualification”, follows the positive result of validation. The certification process follows an established procedure. For some qualifications attained outside the formal general, vocational and higher education systems, validation and certification are performed by various entities (e.g. a driving test is conducted by the regional motor vehicles department and the result is certified, i.e. a document is issued by the county governor).
An entity that has gained the authorisation to award qualifications (also known as “certification”). In the context of the IQS, an awarding body has gained the authority to award particular qualifications that are part of the IQS. Not all qualifications have to be in the IQS, so in a broader context, the term “awarding body” means an entity that awards some type of qualification.
In the context of the IQS, an external quality assurance entity is an institution that has been authorised by the relevant minister with the function of providing external quality assurance to an awarding body. The EQAE supports awarding bodies in properly performing the processes of validation and awarding qualifications. It continuously monitors the activities of the awarding body and performs periodic external evaluations of these activities.
The relevant minister can entrust the provision of external quality assurance for a regulated qualification to an entity from the list of EQAE or another entity of his/her choice.
The relevant minister enters into a contractual agreement with an entity selected from the EQAE list to have it perform external quality assurance activities for an awarding body.