Dutch Qualification Framework (NLQF)

Whether you are:

  • an individual who wishes to follow an education or training programme
  • an employer who wishes to recruit people or
  • a provider who offers education or training programmes

This website will make it easier for you to understand  the NLQF and its added value for you.

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands commissioned the development of the Dutch Qualifications Framework (NLQF) which was constructed in close cooperation with experts and stakeholders in the field of education and training. The National Coordination Point NLQF (NCP) is an independent body which is responsible for the development and implementation of the NLQF.

The Dutch Qualifications Framework (NLQF) is a new way of describing Dutch qualification levels.  It is a systematic organisation of all existing qualification levels in The Netherlands, from Level 1 basic education to the Master’s degree at level 7 and a Doctorate's degree at level 8. Qualifications are classified in NLQF levels and are given a level indication. The framework consists of an Entry Level followed by 8 levels, Level 1 being the least complex and Level 8 the most complex. 

The NLQF aims to facilitate students and labour market mobility by providing an insight into the levels of qualifications recorded by the National Coordination Point NLQF in the NCP register.The NLQF provides transparency in that it facilitates a comparison of qualification levels nationally and internationally, thus, labour market mobility.

All the Government-regulated qualifications (The qualifications of the Ministries of Education Culture and Sciences; and Economic Affairs; Food and Natural and Living Environment) in the National Coordination Point (NCP) have an NLQF-level since 2011.
Organizations with other (non formal) qualifications have the possibility to apply for a level of their qualification(s). These qualifications are first assessed and level-determined by the NCP and then recorded in the NCP Register.

The Dutch Qualifications Framework offers providers of qualifications which are not regulated by the Government the possibility of having such training programmes and qualifications classified at a level of the NLQF.  Procedures and criteria for this process are in place.
The NLQF is referenced to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF).  EQF aims to enable qualifications from different countries within Europe to be compared by means of a single reference framework to which they are all referenced. Thus, EQF will contribute to greater transparency in the education systems of EU countries, thereby increasing the international mobility of individuals. Currently 36 European countries are contributing to the implementation of the EQF by linking their  own national qualifications frameworks to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF).

However, there are many things the NLQF does NOT do.  NLQF is not a revision of the Dutch education system. An NLQF level indicator does not give an entitlement to a title or a degree. The right to enter and transfer to education sectors is not regulated by NLQF.

NLQF for the employer

What is the value of NLQF for an employer?
NLQF provides employers with a tool that enables them to: 

  • clarify the NLQF level required to fill job vacancies in terms of learning outcomes, thus facilitating staff recruitment;
  • establish staff training programmes and track the occupational and personal development of individual staff;
  • get an insight into current  qualifications levels and their relationship, nationally and internationally, thus facilitating labour mobility. 

In effect an employer can use NLQF to compare the level of qualifications or training in the Netherlands.  But NLQF offers more. Because NLQF is referenced to the EQF (European Qualifications Framework) it enables employers to establish the equivalent qualification level in The Netherlands of a foreign or European qualification.

NLQF for the education and training provider

What is the value of NLQF for you as an education and training provider? NLFQ provides education and training providers with a tool that enables them to:

  • compare levels of qualifications in terms of learning outcomes
  • think in terms of learning outcomes as building blocks for qualifications
  • communicate more easily with the labour market and create a better match between education and training programmes and labour market needs.

Providers offering Government-regulated qualifications* can request a review of the level at which they were generically classified at the outset when the NLQF was established. Currently, review requests are only possible for Vocational Education and Training (VET) Level 4. Providers of qualifications which are not Government-regulated may request a classification into one of the levels of the NLQF and, thus, be also referenced to an EQF level.

NLQF for the employee

What is the value of NLQF for an employee? NLQF is the Dutch Qualifications Framework which shows the value of Dutch qualifications and education and training programmes compared to one another and, through its being referenced to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF), compared to those elsewhere in Europe. It was not possible to make these comparisons before the emergence of NLQF, national qualifications frameworks in other countries and the EQF. Using these tools employees are now able to:

  • identify what training programmes are available at what levels throughout Europe
  • compare an education or training programme you may be following with other such programmes in The Netherland and / or in other European countries
  • compare the levels of education and training programmes offered by, for example, a VET college, a University of Applied Science or a University in The Netherlands and / or abroad
  • make a more informed choice of an education or training programme in The Netherlands or in another European country
  • decrease the investment in education and training.

NLQF for the student

What is the value of NLQF for students? NLFQ provides students with a tool that enables them to:

  • get a clear picture of your current position in terms of education and training levels you have achieved thus far
  • compare the levels of Dutch qualifications more easily
  • make a more informed choice as a result of this insight
  • plan your further education and training more easily.

See also English Leaflet