Higher Education and Research

Descriptors of qualification levels

Introduction:

Descriptors are divided into the following three groups at all levels of a qualification:

1. A FOL, B, M, PhD degree1 is awarded to students who have provided evidence for ...

    (A list of general, competence-based but level specific descriptors of acquiring the knowledge and understanding)

2. Holders of this qualification will be able to …
(A list of competences pertaining to the given level)

3. Holders of this qualification …

    (Here, a general list of skills is given for the level in question.)

For identifying the descriptors of the first group, the starting point was how at a given level one can proceed from the simple knowledge of information and understanding of principal contextual relations within the subject/discipline concerned, through increasingly higher qualifications, to systematic scholarly thinking, and then to independent creation and application of abstract concepts in thought processes. this group, a general definition of cognitive elements that can be applied to all disciplines, and not only to specific professions are given. These descriptors contain the information that is important for the training institution to provide initial training.

The descriptors of the second group provide references2 for a given qualification, in terms of how one can apply the acquired knowledge and understanding in solving (familiar or unfamiliar) problems, and how the student is able to learn more to acquire further knowledge, skills and competences.

The descriptors of the third group comprise general skills and other general characteristics that are required to occupy a certain position under given circumstances. These include the ability to work independently, the ability to work in a professional environment, etc.

The descriptors of the second and third group give guidance to the “user” on graduates. Also, the second group informs training institutions, as this part is about how to teach students to learn.

Higher diplomas (this might be the competence-based descriptor of tertiary level vocational training based on output control)3

Higher diplomas are awarded to students who have provided evidence for the following:

    KNOWLEDGE

    They have acquired the core concepts, knowledge and principles of the studied subject/discipline; understand and can correctly judge the problems of the given subject/discipline within the internal context of the subject/discipline.

    They are capable of presenting, evaluating, interpreting and explaining quantitative and qualitative data; elaborating arguments and forming adequate opinions or views in accordance with the principal theories and concepts of the given subject/discipline.

Higher diploma holders are able to:

    APPLICATION OF KNOWLEDGE

    Meet the requirements for practising the given profession in their own area of study and/or job; can evaluate the adequacy of different approaches to solving arising problems;

    Communicate the knowledge and results achieved in their studies / work in a structured and coherent system, in a precise and reliable manner;

    Continue their education either independently or in organised training programmes and/or acquire further professional skills;
    take responsibility for themselves and their community.

Those who have been awarded higher diplomas have:

PROFESSIONAL ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIOUR

    the qualities, transferable knowledge and co-operation skills that are necessary to occupy a position with personal responsibility.

A Bachelor’s degree (the initial degree of higher education) is awarded to students who have provided evidence for the following:

    KNOWLEDGE

    a thorough knowledge and critical understanding of principles relating to the subject/discipline;
    they have acquired the knowledge in their area of training that enable them to enter master’s training;

    They are able to apply core concepts and principles from outside the selected area of studies, including the use of such principles in a given job;

    They know the main methods for acquiring knowledge and doing research in the given discipline, and are able to decide on the approach to be taken for solving a given problem and are aware of the extent the selected approach is suitable for solving the problem;

    They are aware of the boundaries of their knowledge, as well as the impact thereof on the analysis carried out and the explanations given based on their own knowledge.

Bachelor’s degree holders are able to:

    APPLICATION OF KNOWLEDGE

    Work in a job which is in line with their professional qualification;
    Use a wide range of sufficiently grounded techniques for the critical analysis and processing of information, and can propose different solutions to the problems arising during such analyses;

    Effectively communicate information, arguments and analyses to professional and non-professional audiences, from various points of views, in a foreign language and using the latest information technology;

    Effectively apply the problem solving techniques learned in their subject/discipline;

    Further develop their existing skills and acquire new competences either through independent learning or in organised in-service training programmes, which will enable them to occupy a position with significant responsibility within an organisation;

Those who have been awarded Bachelor’s degrees have:

PROFESSIONAL ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIOUR

    the personal qualities, transferable knowledge and co-operation skills that are necessary to occupy a position demanding personal responsibility and individual decision making;
    a quality conscious and success oriented attitude;
    critical reflection and value conscious behaviour.

A Master’s degree is awarded to students who have provided evidence for the following:

    KNOWLEDGE

    Systemic understanding and mastering of knowledge in their subject/discipline, and critical treatment of new problems and/or new phenomena and information coming mainly from the boundary of their discipline or professional experiences;

    A thorough knowledge of problem solving techniques with a wide scope of application in their own research or academic work;

    Their ability to apply in theory and practice the acquired knowledge and problem solving techniques with originality and to obtain the adequate information required to understand and explain the deeper relations in the given discipline;

    Use of conceptual thinking and abstraction with a high level of proficiency, which will enable

      the critical evaluation of current research and academic work at the forefront of the discipline;
      the evaluation of different methodologies, development of independent critical opinion and the raising of alternative solutions, if necessary.

Master’s degree holders are able to:

    APPLICATION OF KNOWLEDGE

    deal with new and complex subjects systemically and creatively, formulate adequate judgements or opinions in the absence of complete data, make decisions and clearly communicate the conclusions drawn for professional and non-professional audiences;

    demonstrate independence and originality in interpreting and tackling problems to be solved; design and implement tasks independently at a high professional standard;

    take their own knowledge to a higher level, deepen the understanding of their subject/discipline and continuously develop their own new skills through individual learning and self-development.

Those who have been awarded Master’s degrees have:

PROFESSIONAL ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIOUR

    the qualities, transferable knowledge and co-operation skills that are necessary to occupy a position demanding
    taking initiatives and assuming personal responsibility

decision making in complex and unforeseen situations,
the ability to learn independently, which is required for professional in-service training;

    critical reflection and value conscious behaviour.

A PhD/DLA degree is awarded to students who have provided evidence for the following:

    KNOWLEDGE

    creation and interpretation of new knowledge which is based on genuine research or high level academic work, expands the known boundaries of the discipline and leads to professionally recognised publications;

    the structured acquisition and understanding of a significant amount of knowledge from the forefront of a discipline in academic work or high standard professional activities;

    an ability to define, plan and implement projects that are suitable for creating new knowledge or practical applications at the epistemological boundary of a given discipline;

    familiarity with techniques suitable for doing research and finding high-level academic information;

PhD/DLA degree holders are able to:

    APPLICATION OF KNOWLEDGE

    formulate adequate opinions of complex subjects in specialist areas, even in the absence of complete data; transmit information and communicate ideas, problems and solutions to professional and non-professional audiences;

    carry out independent research and development in the field of basic and applied research, at a high standard, in order to make a significant contribution to the development of the given area through the application of new techniques, new ideas and original approaches;

Those who have been awarded PhD/DLA degrees have:

PROFESSIONAL ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIOUR

    the personal qualities and transferable knowledge required to occupy a position demanding personal responsibility, a high level of independence and the ability to handle complex and unforeseen situations in a professional environment;
    advanced co-operation skills, critical reflection and value conscious behaviour.


1 In case of a higher diploma representing the first level, instead of “degree”, the expression “higher diploma” is used, as such qualifications belong to category ISCED 4, and not to ISCED 5, that is they should not be considered tertiary level qualification; they are only qualifications obtained at the tertiary level.

2 In the concrete and detailed description of training paths, in addition to the professional competences, other competences, such as social competences, must be defined too. These are, for example: communication skills, economic skills, legal knowledge, sustainable development, knowledge of the EU. etc.

3 This “level” has been elaborated for the sake of completeness only. In this sense, the existing tertiary level vocational training is not aligned with the levels of higher education. What is written here is more or less equivalent to the competences that can be acquired in tertiary level vocational training, at output level.