The German Qualifications Framework (DQR) was developed to make the German education system more transparent. It allocates the qualifications of the different education sectors to eight competence levels which are described in terms of learning outcomes.

Schematische Darstellung von sechs Kästchen, die sich auf ein sich in ihrer Mitte befindendes siebtes Kästchen beziehen
© Kalawin/iStock/Thinkstock

Learning outcomes describe what learners know, understand and are able to do on completion of a learning process. Referencing the DQR to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) makes it easier to compare qualifications – in Europe and in Germany. This supports the mobility of learners and workers.

In addition to supporting transparency and mobility, the DQR can also serve as a catalyst for new approaches in education and training. For example, the DQR might help to

  • illustrate parity of esteem between general education, vocational education and training and higher education,
  • promote competence orientation of qualifications,
  • encourage education and training processes to focus on learning outcomes,
  • support permeability and quality assurance in the German education system,
  • improve opportunities for recognition and crediting of acquired non-formal and informal competences,
  • and strengthen lifelong learning as a whole.

By providing a system for classifying qualifications to competence levels, the DQR helps to make the differences and similarities between qualifications visible. It currently includes formal qualifications, i.e. qualifications which are regulated by the state, from

  • general education,
  • vocational education and training,
  • higher education and
    in each case, including continuing education.

The DQR has been designed as a comprehensive framework aiming to cover not only qualifications from the formal education system, but also qualifications acquired in non-formal settings, i.e. qualifications which are not regulated by the state. Procedures for the allocation of non-formal qualifications are currently being developed and tested.

The DQR was introduced on 1 May 2013 on the basis of a Joint Resolution of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs and the Conference of Economics Ministers.

The indication of DQR/EQF levels on newly issued qualifications documents (diplomas, certificates, Europass supplements) has been taking place gradually since 2014. A retrospective indication on certificates awarded prior to this is not possible.

The role of the DQR is to provide orientation; it has no regulatory function. The DQR has no effect on the system of access eligibility in Germany. Access regulations relate to qualifications, not to DQR levels. A specific DQR level does not automatically provide access to the “next level”.