First steps in structuring of National Qualifications Framework (NQF) in Turkey were started by the Council of Higher Education (CoHE) after Ministerial Summit held within Bologna Process in 2005 in Bergen deciding on the composition of national qualifications frameworks. On April 28th 2006, Members of the first Commission of Qualifications for Higher Education was founded on the Decision of CoHE, which were composed of the higher education institutions representatives and continued its studies until February 4th, 2008. As a result of works done between these dates, the commission defined NQF for higher education according to the knowledge, skills and competencies to be gained minimally at the end of each degree of higher education (associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees) mostly using the level descriptors within Qualifications Framework for European Higher Education Area (QF-EHEA). Within this framework, it presented the first outline of "National Qualifications Framework for Higher Education in Turkey", which were expressed as learning outcomes, for the relevant stakeholders' ideas and contributions.

On July 7th, 2008, Commission members were renewed by the CoHE for the purpose of continuing NQF works with a wider spectrum. Besides, working groups for Qualifications for Higher Art Education and Higher Vocational Education were founded on 2009, thanks to the participation of experienced academicians of different universities and disciplines to support the Commission's works.

Commission and Working Group prepared what they had done as an "Interim Report of NQF-HETR" in January, 2009 and presented it both to the certain groups of stakeholders and to the whole public opinion via the website of Council of Higher Education. Afterwards, the Commission and the Working Group carried out the works summarized below aimed at composition of NQF-HETR in accordance with the ideas of stakeholders.

1.1. The Construction Period and Calendar of NQF-HET

The construction processes of national qualifications framework of Bologna countries and the necessary work in these processes are listed under 11 levels by Bologna Qualifications Framework Working Group. It has been mentioned that the countries should continue their studies about NQF following these levels and complete them by 2010 (2012 at the latest). Related to these studies, the Commission of Qualifications for Higher Education and Working Group determined the calendar of studies regarding the construction of national qualifications prescribed to be completed after these 11 levels like the following.

The Construction Steps and the Completion Dates of NQF-HETR


  Construction Steps of NQF-HETR Completion Date
1 Decision to start the process April 2006
2 Organization of the work programme 2006
3 Organization of the process 2006-2008
4 Design of the framework November 2008
5 Taking the stakeholders' opinions January 2009
6 Approval of the framework Partially May 2009
Totally January 2010
7 Executive organization February 2010
8 Application of framework at higher education programmes level Pilot scheme application June 2011
Application in all institutions December 2012
9 Inclusion of qualifications to NQF-HETR 2010-2015
10 Documentation of the harmony between the framework and the European Qualifications Framework 2010-2012
11 Construction of NQF-HETR website and its dissemination December 2010


It is anticipated that the works of NQF-HETR started in 2006 should be confirmed till January, 2010 according to the new calendar organized in September, 2008 and the necessary executive organization is anticipated to be completed until February, 2010. The application of the framework at pre-determined institutions as pilot scheme is planned to be finished by June 2011 and its application at all institutions is supposed to be finished by the end of 2012. It is pre-planned that the qualifications given by higher education institutions should be included in NQF-HETR within national quality assurance system between the years of 2010-2015 and that the documentation of the compatibility of the framework with European Upper Qualifications Framework should be completed between the years of 2010-2012. The website which will have information about NQF-HET is supposed to be prepared by 2010 and be in use by January, 2011.

1.2. Design of NQF-HETR

So far, The Commission for National Qualifications and the Working Group has concentrated on the design and level identifiers of NQF-HETR. In this context, the following points mentioned below are completed about the design of NQF-HETR taking into consideration some points such as the structure of Turkish Higher Education, its levels and degrees for each level, general elements to be included in the design of NQF and finally the stakeholders' opinions.

1.2.1. The levels of NQF-HETR

Current structure of Turkish Higher Education is already compatible with the 3 cycle system (Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral) provided within Bologna Process. In addition, "short-cycle (Short cycle-QF-EHEA and 5. Level-EQF-LLL)", which was set forth in European Upper Qualifications Framework and is mentioned as interim qualifications are provided as "associate's degree" in Turkish Higher Education System. As a result, it is thought to be appropriate that NQF-HETR can be defined with 4 (four) cycles including associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees with its current design.

1.2.2. Educational qualifications profiles for each NQF-HETR level

It is known that each level of Turkish Higher Education System has qualifications that can be defined with different learning outcomes. Classification of these cycles (qualifications groups) that differ in learning outcomes for each higher education levels is given below.

Turkish Higher Education System Levels and Qualifications of Different Learning Outcomes for Each Level


QF-EHEA: 3. Level
EQF-LLL : 8. Level
Doctorate Proficiency in medicine Competence in art
QF-EHEA: 2. Level
EQF-LLL : 7. Level
Master's with thesis Master's without thesis
QF-EHEA :1.Level
EQF-LLL :6.Level
(Faculty programmes)
(Higher school and Conservatoire programmes)
QF-EHEA : Short cycle
EQF-LLL : 5. Level
(Among the bachelor's degree programmes)
(Vocational higher schools-MYO)


Defining of these qualifications groups in NQF-HETR with different profiles and their degrees is important for the transparency and comprehensibility of NQF-HETR. The commission and the Working Group put 3 different opinions forward about how the qualifications with these different learning outcomes in NQF-HETR will take place and how they will be defined and presented these to the stakeholders' views along with the "Interim Report for National Qualifications Framework for Higher Education in Turkey".

In accordance with the opinions of stakeholders, it was first decided that NQF-HETR, because of its levels, should be composed of 3 (three) different higher education qualifications with different qualifications as well. The current associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree qualifications (profiles) within Higher Education system shown in Table 3 are classified as (1) academic based higher education qualifications, (2) vocational education based qualifications and (3) art education based qualifications according to their learning outcomes. Later throughout the process, it was realized thanks to the studies of working groups formed for each field of study that qualifications for art education can be included within higher education qualifications. So, the profiles for qualifications within NQF-HETR were thought to be appropriately classified as (1) Qualifications for Higher Education and (2) Qualifications for Vocational Higher Education. These are shown below.

Qualifications' Profiles for NQF-HETR Levels

1. Academically-oriented associate's degree educational programmes which are related to or within undergraduate programmes.

2. Vocationally-oriented associate's degree educational programmes which are related to or within undergraduate programmes.

3. Vocationally-oriented associate's degree educational programmes of Vocational Higher Schools

4. Academically-oriented programmes

5. Vocationally-oriented bachelor's degree programmes

6. Academically-oriented master's degree programmes with or without thesis

7. Vocationally-oriented master's degree programmes with thesis or without thesis

8. Doctoral programmes

1.2.3. Degrees for each level and/or profile of NQF-HETR (diplomas)

Kinds of degrees for each level within higher education system in Turkey are certain and these are;

Associate's degree: associate's degree within bachelor's degree programmes,

Bachelor's degree: faculty, higher school and conservatoire undergraduate degree programmes,

Master's degree: master's with or without thesis

Doctoral degree: doctorate, proficiency in medicine and doctorate in art.

1.2.4. Credit (ECTS) and Student Workload for each level of NQF-HETR

Total education time of each degree (associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctorate) within NQF-HETR and periods of student work load are shown below.

Total Credit (ECTS) and Student Workload Periods for each level of NQF-HETR*

(Year x 60 ECTS)
(Hour) (1 ECTS = 25-30 hours)
3 - 4 180 - 240 4.500 - 5.400
6000 - 7.200
1,5 - 2 90 - 120 2.250 - 2.700
3.000 - 3.600
4 240 6.000 - 7.200
5.LEVEL (ASSOCIATE'S) 2 120 3.000 - 3.600

* An academic year is calculated grounded on 60 ECTS and 1500-1800 hours of workload.


1.2.5. General level identifiers used to identify these levels and definition of NQF-HETR

It is thought to be appropriate that EQF-LLL (European Qualifications Framework- Life Long Learning) which is in accordance with QF-EHEA and is proposed by European Parliament and Council of Europe can be chosen as the main framework that will be used to reference NQF-HETR Levels with European Qualifications Framework Levels. As a result, the level descriptors to be used for NQF-HETR have been decided to be in accordance with the level identifiers of EQF-LLL.

One of the most important reasons of this choice is the flexibility that EQF-LLL has about the correlation of higher education qualifications along with the primary and secondary education qualifications within life long learning that will be developed in time to the qualifications that are informal and are based on experience. Another reason is that vocational education is an important part of Turkish Higher Education System along with vocational high schools and higher schools giving education for a specific type of vocation and that EQF-LLL includes this, as well. In this way, it has become a common point that a National Qualifications Framework can be prepared in which all the current qualifications in Turkish Educational System can be related to the qualifications that will be developed in time entirely.

Accordingly, the first thing was to prepare level descriptors using EQF-LLL level descriptors (general learning outcomes) for associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees including all levels of higher education within NQF-HETR system and their qualifications profiles (their differences). All these works along with the other designing elements of NQF-HETR as mentioned above were accepted at the meeting of Council of Higher Education's General Assembly dated on 21.01.2010.

Studies for Qualifications on Fields of Education and Training

In accordance with the above-mentioned decision of CoHE, it was decided to develop qualifications on fields of education and training, taking into account ISCED 97. Working groups are established on each of the ISCED narrow fields of education and training. These groups were consisting of 8-10 people, who were at majority, deans of relevant faculties. These working groups were informed by NQF-HETR Working Group members and Bologna experts about which methodology they will use. The groups had meetings for defining their own education fields' qualifications at various times. One or a few experienced Bologna experts and member of working group of NQF-HETR were incorporated into each working group to help them to ensure terminological and language accordance in the qualifications they would prepare. A meeting was conducted with all the executive members of all the fields on June 14th, 2010. It was requested to share the results of the working in the meeting. Although, all groups accomplished their working, some deficiency was determined in terms of content and form. It was decided to set up Editing Commission to ensure that each report is in a single format and has language unity.

After the Editing Commission finished its studies, NQF-HETR Qualifications of Narrow Fields of Education and Training were accepted on January 13th in 2011 at CoHE's General Assembly. According to this decision, this website will be the basis for all further studies on both field and programme level. Working on updating activities and continuing developments will continue via this website. Next step of studies will be on defining qualifications at programme level and also describing learning outcomes of each course in every higher education institution in Turkey.