Within the Bologna Process, whose aim it is to establish a European Higher Education Area, participating countries have committed to create national qualifications frameworks by 2010. It was agreed that after the national framework had been developed, it would be self certified as being compatible with the overarching framework of qualifications of the European Higher Education Area (QF-EHEA).
The function of a national higher education qualifications framework is to describe qualifications through five essential components: level, workload, profile, quality and learning outcomes, thus facilitating comparison of qualifications across different systems of higher education and supporting fair, accurate and reliable assessment and recognition of qualifications.
In Estonia, a working group for developing the national higher education qualifications framework was convened in 2007 by the Ministry of Education and Research. It included representatives from the ministry, the rectors’ councils, the federation of student unions, the higher education quality agency, the professional qualifications agency and the Estonian ENIC/NARIC. All the components necessary for describing qualifications are included in the government regulation “Standard of Higher Education“ that also serves as the Estonian Higher Education Qualifications Framework.
Self-certification of the national higher education qualifications framework started in 2010. At the same time, referencing the qualifications framework that would embrace all levels of education to the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning (LLL-EQF) was begun. In 2011 it was decided to combine self-certification of higher education qualifications and referencing the qualifications framework for lifelong learning and present them as a joint report.