National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ)

​​​ Qualifications frameworks describe the qualifications of an education and training system and how they interlink. Over 150 countries are now developing, or have developed, a national qualifications framework.

National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ)

Established in 2003, the Irish National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) is a 10-level, single national entity through which all learning achievements may be measured and related to each other.  Underpinned by quality assurance principles, the Irish NFQ describes qualifications in the Irish education and training system and sets out what each qualification says about what learners know, understand and are able to do. It also sets out qualifications pathways from one NFQ level to the next.

Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) is responsible for developing, pro​moting and maintaining the Irish NFQ. QQI also facilitates the recognition of foreign qualifications.

Recent changes to the NFQ

In late 2020, following consultation with our key stakeholders, the Framework was updated to reflect changes in recent years across the education and training landscape: 

  • Junior Cycle Reform 

  • The Technological Universities Act 

  • Institutes of Technology enabled to make their own awards 

  • The future inclusion of the awards of Listed Awarding Bodies in the Framework 

  • Development of Professional Award Type Descriptors at NFQ Levels 5-9 

  • The launch of the Irish Register of Qualifications 

These updates will explain the changed relationships between different levels of the NFQ and different education and training awards.

You can download the new version of the NFQ in English here.

You can download the new version of the NFQ in Irish here.

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Celebrating 15 years of the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ)

View an interactive infographic celebrating 15 years of the NFQ which charts NFQ development since its inception in 2003.  

Qualifications Frameworks in Europe and beyond

One of the many great things about the European Union is that European citizens are free to live, work and study in so many different countries. Seeking work or study opportunities in other European countries is much easier when your qualifications ​are understood and valued. 

To improve the transparency, comparability and portability of people’s qualifications, the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning commonly known as EQF was launched in 2008. To learn more about EQF and lifelong learning, click on the button below:

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The European Higher Education Area (EHEA)

The European Higher Education Area (EHEA) aims to facilitate cooperation between systems, institutions, and individuals in its 48 member countries.   While working together to implement the EHEA’s goals for quality and mobility, the member states also hope to raise the international profile and status of European higher education.

The EHEA now includes the concept of a qualifications framework with an emphasis on learning outcomes. The undergraduate/postgraduate degree structure has been modified into a three-cycle system (bachelor, master and doctorate). Ireland’s NFQ has been verified as compatible with that of the EHEA quality framework (QF- EHEA). This means that higher education and training qualifications from Ireland are consistent with the EHEA bachelor, master and doctorate cycles. Find out more on the European Higher Education Area here.

To learn more about the relationship between the Irish NFQ and the EQF and the QF-EHEA, click on Qualifications Frameworks – A European View below.

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Referencing of the Irish NFQ to the EQF and QF-EHEA

This report documents how the design and implementation of the NFQ is consistent with European expectations and standards for transparency and trust in national qualification systems. Click here​ to view

Qualifications Frameworks in Ireland and the UK

The Irish and UK qualifications authorities have collaborated on bi-lateral and international initiatives that promote the transparency, recognition and mobility of qualifications between our respective jurisdictions. The qualifications authorities in the UK and Ireland have agreed the correspondence between qualifications frameworks in operation across the five jurisdictions. A joint publication, Qualifications Can Cross Boundaries indicates the level of a UK qualification within the Irish NFQ.