European instruments

The European Union has international student mobility high on its agenda. Therefore, there are several policy instruments that have been launched by the European Commission to stimulate student exchanges and international cooperation in general. These European instruments also increase the transparency of the various education systems. This makes it easier for students to compare education in their own country with that of foreign schools.


The EQF (European Qualifications Framework) describes the grading of the different levels of education in  EU countries. EQF describes education in terms of levels, skills, knowledge and competences. The European Qualifications Framework has eight levels. Levels 1 to 4 broadly correspond to the four levels in Dutch senior secondary vocational education (VET. The Associate Degree has also been placed in level 5 and fulfils a bridging function between VET and higher education. In the near future, schools will state the EQF level on their diplomas.


The Dutch Qualifications Framework (NLQF) is a description of all qualification levels in Dutch education based on one conceptual framework. It has been introduced to link the Dutch qualifications to the level descriptions of the EQF. Employees and individuals gain insight into the levels of existing qualifications and how these levels relate to each other, both nationally and internationally, through the EQF.


EQAVET (European Quality Assurance in Vocational Education and Training) aims to monitor the quality of vocational education in all EU countries. A list of quality indicators has been drawn up, which all systems of the member states should comply with as a minimum. In this way, a quality assurance system is created with strong benefits for international mobility.


The European Credit System for Vocational Education & Training (ECVET) makes it easier for students to have their learning outcomes recognised elsewhere. This may also apply to learning experiences gained outside regular education. It enables employers to gain insight into the knowledge and competences of (future) employees.