EQF and ISCED
Level 1 of the EQF and ISCED classification encompasses Primary School and begins at the age of compulsory education.
(Level from 1st to 4th grade of K12 program – elementary school)
Level 2 of the EQF and ISCED classification encompasses the first 4 years after primary education, namely: Academic Secondary School Lower Cycle, New Secondary School, and Lower Secondary School.
(Level from 4th to 9th grade of K12 program – middle school)
Level 3 of the EQF and ISCED classification encompasses educational institutions that focus on general or vocational education. In Austria, these include Academic Secondary School Upper Cycle, Colleges for Higher Vocational Education up to the 3rd grade (HTL, HAK, HLW), , Schools for Intermediate Vocational Education, Pre-Vocational Schools and Education and Training for Healthcare Professions.
(Level from 9th to 12th grade of K12 program – High School)
Level 4 of the EQF and ISCED classification encompasses qualifications that are considered to be beyond secondary education, but are not included in the tertiary sector. These courses include Schools of Nursing and certain Continuing Education Courses at Universities, Universities of Applied Sciences and University Colleges of Teacher Education.
This level covers all post-secondary qualifications that teach graduates professional knowledge, skills and competences typically in a practice-oriented way, focusing on specific occupations. It includes Colleges for Higher Vocational Education, Schools for People in Employment, Add-on Courses, Post-secondary VET Courses and Master-Craftsperson, Foreperson and Construction Trades Courses.
Level 6 of the EQF and ISCED classification is the first step into tertiary education. It includes bachelor degrees from universities, universities of applied sciences and university colleges of teacher education as well as comparable programs.
Level 7 of the EQF and ISCED classification encompasses master degrees from universities, universities of applied sciences and university colleges of teacher education as well as comparable programmes.
Level 8 of the EQF and ISCED classification encompasses the highest level of higher education, doctorates and postdoctoral qualifications (Dr, PhD).
European Qualification Format
International Standard Classification of Education
As national education systems vary in terms of structure and curricular content, it can be difficult
to benchmark performance across countries over time or monitor progress towards national and
international goals. In order to understand and properly interpret the inputs, processes, and outcomes
of education systems from a global perspective, it is vital to ensure that data are comparable.
This can be done by applying the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED),
and European Qualification Framework, which is directly implemented into the accreditation of Education World Wide,
the standard a framework used to categorize and report cross-nationally comparable education statistics.
The European Qualifications Framework (EQF) acts as a translation device to make national
qualifications more readable across Europe, promoting workers’ and learners’ mobility between countries
and facilitating their lifelong learning. The EQF aims to relate different countries’ national qualifications
systems to a common European reference framework. Individuals and employers will be able to use the EQF
to better understand and compare the qualifications levels of different countries and different education and training systems.
Since 2012, all new qualifications issued in Europe carry a reference to an appropriate EQF level.
The ISCED 2011 classification was adopted by the UNESCO General Conference at its 36th session
in November 2011. Initially developed by UNESCO in the 1970s, and first revised in 1997, the ISCED
classification serves as an instrument to compile and present education statistics both nationally and
internationally. The framework is occasionally updated in order to better capture new developments in
education systems worldwide.