Higher Education and Research


NATIONAL QUALIFICATIONS FRAMEWORK
SWOT Analysis, June 2009

STRENGTHS

    As member of the Bologna process, the Romanian Ministry of Education and Research included both in the National Reform Programme 2007-2010 and in the National Development Plan 2007-2013, as well as in the ministry strategy for 2006-2008 provisions on the development, implementation, updating and monitoring the National Qualifications Framework for Higher Education (NQFHE);
    Government Decision 1357/2005 provides for setting up ACPART as national authority for the development and regular update of the National Qualifications Framework for Higher Education;
    Design of National Qualifications Framework for Higher Education and development of the specific Methodology by ACPART, instruments which are compatible with the Overarching Framework for Qualifications of the EHEA and with the Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2008;
    Universities interest and responsiveness to the implementation of a National Qualifications Framework for Higher Education, as sole instrument determining the structure of qualifications in higher education;
    Implementation of projects involving national and international institutions and bodies with responsibilities in the field of qualifications (funded by Leonardo da Vinci, Lifelong Learning, PHARE and ESF);
    National and international actions (conferences, seminars, international summer school UNISO – UNIversity in SOciety) organised by or involving participation of ACPART in order to develop and implement NQFHE efficiently and effectively;
    A number of university teaching staff involved in piloting the NQFHE Methodology prior to the DOCIS project and their availability to act as experts for the description of qualifications in higher education;
    Government Decision 890/2008 on the titles of qualifications and awards granted to graduates of Bachelor higher education studies enrolled in their first study year during academic years 2005-2006, 2006-2007, 2007-2008 and Ordinance 4868/07.08.2006 issued by the Minister of Education on the Diploma Supplement for the first Bologna graduates;
    Presidential Commission Report – 2008 on the analysis and development of policies in education and research – Romania of education, Romania of research which refers to the development of the National Qualifications Framework;
    Order no 4430/29.06.2009 issued by the Minister of Education, Research and Innovation on the implementation of the NQF in Higher Education.

Links with the European Qualifications Framework

    Memorandum on nominating the National Adult Training Board as the National Authority for Qualifications – NAQ/NATB signed by the Romanian Government in June 2004;
    Amendment and completion of Law 132/1999 by Law 559/December 7, 2004, adding to the NATB responsibilities the following: development and implementation of methodologies on the occupational analysis, qualifications and their validation, certification of professional competences and qualifications, development and update of the National Register for Qualifications;
    National Tripartite Agreement on the National Qualifications Framework signed by representatives of the Romanian Government (Ministry of Education and Research, Ministry of Economy and Commerce, Ministry of European Integration, Ministry of Public Finance, Ministry of Labour, Social Solidarity and Family), of employers and trade unions confederations, representative at national level (Bucharest, 23.02.2005);
    Common principles for quality assurance are applied in initial vocational education and training, according to the Overarching Framework for Qualifications of the EHEA;
    Mechanisms for validation of competences acquired in non-formal and informal contexts are operational in continuing vocational training;

WEAKNESSES

    Limited experience of most universities in ensuring public transparency of their educational processes as well as cooperation with social partners to define their educational provision;
    Lack of correlation between the description of qualifications in the TVET system and of qualifications in higher education;
    The delay in providing legislative support for the development and implementation of the National Qualifications Framework in Higher Education and feeble support for the development and implementation of the NQFHE from MERI for 2 years, in spite of ACPART’s efforts;
    Lack of explicit coordination in the activities undertaken by institutions responsible for establishing the NQFHE and those undertaken by institutions in charge with quality assurance in higher education;
    Lack of updated statistics and forecasts as well as of national surveys on the supply and demand ratio at the labour market level.
    International terminology used for the qualifications description is not sufficiently clarified, and translations into various languages and the wording specificity in national contexts lead to confusion and ambiguity;
    Employers are not fully aware of the SQF and NQF role and of the need to correlate with the Overarching Framework for Qualifications of the EHEA;
    Currently in Romania there are few professional associations compared to the number and typology of qualifications/study programmes;
    Low involvement of the labour market representatives in the assessments related to completion of university studies;
    Employers operate more with instruments such as the job description, not with the description of a qualification in terms of learning outcomes.

Links with the European Qualifications Framework

    Lack of an integrating structure to coordinate the National Qualifications Framework and to include comprehensively all components of formal, informal and non-formal education and training, taking into account the subordination relations between the bodies involved and their scope of activity;
    Lack of a sole, coherent and integrating Methodology on qualifications in Romania;
    Various methodologies, instruments and key concepts which do not follow consistently the Recommendation of 23 April 2008;
    Definition of the National Qualifications Framework, of its instruments and key concepts is presented in a document which is not legally binding (Annex 1 to the Tripartite Agreement on the National Qualifications Framework);
    Annex 1 to the Tripartite Agreement on the National Qualifications Framework indicates 5 reference levels which do not reflect adequately the Bologna process strategy, but only the regulations developed by the International Labour Office (ILO) – ISCO 88 COM, at the European Union level, through Council Decision 85/368/ EEC, which was repealed in November 2007;
    The baccalaureate diploma does not offer its holder a professional qualification as well;

OPPORTUNITIES

    Involvement of all decision-makers in the description of qualifications, including employers;
    Students/graduates agree on the National Qualifications Framework as an instrument to match the universities provision with the labour market needs;
    Direct support of universities and other social partners for the development and implementation of the National Qualifications Framework for Higher Education;
    Description of qualifications in higher education in line with the descriptors used in the Overarching Framework for Qualifications of the EHEA;
    Ensuring transparency and visibility of the educational system at national level as well as comparability and compatibility with the European Higher Education Area;
    Facilitating mobility of students and employees, both at national and international level;
    Development of university curricula based on learning outcomes, focusing on student-centred learning;
    Facilitating lifelong learning, including after graduation of a Bachelor or Master’s study programme.

THREATS

    Stakeholders have a different understanding of the key concepts and use them with different meanings;
    Maintaining confusion with regards to the qualifications system in Romania caused by poor correlation between the National Qualifications Register for Higher Education and the register for qualifications acquired within the adult training, which is not part of the educational system;
    Deadline set for 2010 to ensure compatibility and comparability of the National Qualifications Framework with the Overarching Framework for Qualifications of the EHEA may be exceeded;
    Confusion between the Overarching Framework for Qualifications of the EHEA and EQF as a consequence of the unclear relation between the two;
    Different perception of concepts and definitions specific to the Overarching Framework for Qualifications of the EHEA and EQF, due to different national and cultural contexts and social and economic disparities.

Links with the European Qualifications Framework

    Weak continuity between pre-university and higher education to ensure career development;

Gaps between the various types of education and training and lack of harmonisation between institutions involved due to tergiversation of adopting a legally binding document defining the body in charge with setting the NQF structure and instruments;

CONCLUSIONS:

    Steps taken since 2004 for developing/building the national qualifications system have been significant, but the political decision underpinning them was rather due to the imperious pressure to align to the EU/EC requirements (definition of 5 levels, designation of NAQ - NATB) than to an effort to respond to a real national need regarding the match between education/training and the labour market;
    Incomplete legislation led in time to important disfunctionalities between the various institutions in charge with the development and implementation of a NQF, to overlapping actions, activities and initiatives;
    Change of approach in the curriculum development, switch to student-centred learning and focus on learning outcomes are principles accepted by all education and training providers; but the conceptual definition and the practical implementation involve a change in mentalities and a reform of strategies on education and training, which are not immediately visible;
    In Romania, formal requirements at European level regarding the implementation of a coherent system of qualifications, including higher education, may enhance national progress in the field.

Bd. Schitu Măgureanu, nr. 1, et. 3, sector 5, 050025, Bucureşti
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Email: office@acpart.ro, web: www.acpart.ro