Competence model of INSPIRE Master programs

1. Overview of electrical engineering professional standards in Europa, USA, Australia, Russia and China

International professional standards in electrical engineering are standards that govern the competency of valuation professionals in electrical engineering, through codes and benchmarks for their conduct, capability and competency. International professional standardsprovide the framework for suitably trained valuation professionals in electrical engineering acting in an ethical manner. International professional standardsin electrical engineering exist and are developed to:

  • protect the public interest by ensuring that professional valuers observe high standards of professional and ethical conduct
  • improve the credibility of the valuation profession and enhance public trust and confidence in the profession
  • increase the supply and demand for qualified professional valuers in sectors or markets where the professional infrastructure is weak or non-existent.

Let us have a closer look at some widespread standard systems in electrical engineering:

  • International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO);
  • Multilingual classification of European Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations (ESCO);
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE);
  • The International Society of Automation (ISA);
  • Britishprofessional standards in electrical engineering;
  • Australian professional standards in electrical engineering.

Employers are increasingly as concerned with what employees know, understand and are able to do in practice as they are with formal qualifications and there is a growing understanding of the importance of transversal skills, such as learning to learn and initiative-taking, in complementing occupational skills [1]. At the same time, education and training systems are moving away from approaches defined around the time spent on learning and where the learning takes place (an input approach) towards a focus on the knowledge, skills and competences achieved through the learning (an outcomes approach). In line with the European Qualifications Framework (EQF), all Member States are in the process of developing National Qualification Frameworks (NQFs) which describe qualifications in terms of learning outcomes. To respond to these shifts and improve matching between supply and demand, a number of Member States have felt it necessary to develop systems that classify skills and competences and enable these to be related to qualifications, occupations and job vacancies. Initiatives at sectoral level have also been taken. That is the reason ESCO (multilingual classification of European Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations) is being developed.

According to ESCO electronics engineers belong to the subgroup «Electronics engineers» of major group «Electrotechnology engineers [2]. Electronics engineer occupations may be: graduate engineer (systems design, electronics), graduate engineer (electronics/telecommunications), experiment engineer (electronics/telecommunications), signal engineer, quality control engineer (electronics/telecommunications), production engineer (electronics/telecommunications), inspection engineer (electronics/telecommunications), media technician, examination engineer  (electronics/telecommunications), computer engineer, graduate engineer (systems production, electronics), designer (electronics/telecommunications), process engineer (electronics/telecommunications), automatic control engineer, graduate engineer (quality control, electronics), testing engineer (electronics/telecommunications), operations engineer, circuit engineer, hardware designer, development engineer (electronics/telecommunications), product developer (electronics/telecommunications), production developer  (electronics/telecommunications), graduate engineer (rationalization, electronics), circuit engineer (scanner). 

There is a mapping of ESCO subgroup «Electronics engineers» to ISCO (described below) subgroup 2152 «Electronics engineers».

And in its turn according to ESCO eleсtrical engineers belong to the subgroup «Electrical engineers» of major group «Electrotechnology engineers [3]. Electrical engineer occupations may be: project planning engineer (electricity), site engineer, graduate engineer (power generation, operation), structural engineer (power systems), maintenance engineer (power systems), graduate engineer (power network planning), graduate engineer (power generation, construction), graduate engineer (power line technology), research engineer (power systems), power systems engineer, graduate engineer (power generation, quality), graduate engineer (power generation, rationalization), graduate engineer (power generation, inspection), standardization engineer (power systems), graduate engineer (power generation, testing), graduate engineer (power generation, monitoring), graduate engineer (power generation, installations), product developer (power generation), graduate engineer (power line erection), graduate engineer (power generation, planning), graduate engineer (energy), graduate engineer (power generation), development engineer (power systems), graduate engineer (electric systems construction), process engineer (power generation), graduate engineer (power generation, calculations), graduate engineer (electrical installation), graduate engineer (power generation).

There is a mapping of ESCO subgroup «Electrical engineers» to ISCO subgroup 2151 «Electrical engineers».

The International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO, first mentioned above) is one of the main international classifications belonging to the international family of economic and social classifications [4].ISCO is a tool for organizing jobs into a clearly defined set of groups according to the tasks and duties undertaken in the job. Its main aims are to provide: a basis for the international reporting, comparison and exchange of statistical and administrative data about occupations; a model for the development of national and regional classifications of occupations; and a system that can be used directly in countries that have not developed their own national classifications. The first version of ISCO was adopted in 1957 by the Ninth International Conference of Labour Statisticians (ICLS), it is known as ISCO-58. The updated classification was adopted in December 2007 and is known as ISCO-08.

Under the standard ISCO-2143 (Electrical Engineers) electrical engineersconduct research and advise on, design, and direct construction of electrical systems, motors and equipment, and advise on and direct their functioning, maintenance and repairs, or study and advise on technological aspects of particular materials, products and processes [5]. Their tasks may include: advising on and designing systems for electrical power generation, transmission and distribution; advising on and designing systems for electrical motors, electrical traction and other equipment, or electrical domestic appliances; specifying electrical installation and application in industrial and other buildings and objects and if necessary directing some of the work; establishing control standards and procedures to ensure efficient functioning and safety of electrical generating and distribution systems, motors and equipment; locating and correcting malfunctions; organizing and directing maintenance and repair of existing electrical systems, motors and equipment; studying and advising on technological aspects of particular materials, products or processes; maintaining technical liaison and consultancy with other relevant specialists; 
preparing scientific papers and reports; performing related tasks; supervising other workers. This standard classifies the examples of the occupations in a following way: 

  • engineer, electrical;
  • engineer, electrical/electric power generation;
  • engineer, electrical/electromechanical equipment;
  • technologist, engineering/electrical.

And under the standard ISCO-2144 (Electronics and Telecommunications Engineers) electronics and telecommunications engineers conduct research and advise on, design, and direct construction of electronic systems and equipment, and advise on and direct their functioning, maintenance and repairs, or study and advise on technological aspects of particular materials, products or processes [6]. Tasks of electronics and telecommunications engineers include: advising on and designing electronic devices, systems, motors and equipment such as computers or telecommunications equipment; specifying production or installation methods, materials and quality standards and directing production or installation work of electronic or telecommunications products and systems; establishing control standards and procedures to ensure efficient functioning and safety of electronic systems, motors and equipment; locating and correcting malfunctions; organizing and directing maintenance and repair of existing electronic systems, motors and equipment; studying and advising on technological aspects of particular materials, products or processes; maintaining technical liaison and consultancy with other relevant specialists; preparing scientific papers and reports; performing related tasks; supervising other workers. Examples of the occupations classified here: 

  • Engineer, electronics;
  • Engineer, telecommunications;
  • Engineer, telecommunications/radio;
  • Technologist, engineering/electronics;
  • Technologist, engineering/telecommunications.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers(IEEE)a professional associationwith its corporate office in New York Cityand its operations center in Piscataway, New Jersey[7]. It is the world's largest association of technical professionals with more than 420,000 members in over 160 countries around the world. Its objectives are the educational and technical advancement of electrical and electronic engineeringtelecommunicationscomputer engineeringand allied disciplines. IEEE standards affect a wide range of industries including: power and energy, biomedical and healthcare, Information Technology, telecommunications, transportation, nanotechnology, information assurance, and many more. In 2017 IEEE had over 1100 active standards, with over 600 standards under development. It should be pointed out that most of  IEEE standards are industrial, not professional ones.

The International Society of Automation(ISA), formerly known as The Instrumentation, Systems, and Automation Society, is a non-profit technical society for engineers, technicians, businesspeople, educators and students, who work, study or are interested in industrial automationand pursuits related to it, such as instrumentation[8]. It was originally known as the Instrument Society of America. The society is more commonly known by its acronym, ISA, and the society's scope now includes many technical and engineering disciplines. ISA is one of the foremost professional organizations in the world for setting standards and educating industry professionals in automation. 

Basing on three ISA professional standards (Certified Automation Professional (Body of Knowledge, Control Systems Engineer Examination Specification, Automation Competency Model) we can consider the essential requirements for Control Systems Engineer profession [9]. The following performance domains exist for Control Systems Engineer profession: Measurement and Control Element Devices, Device Signals and Transmission Media; System Design; Development.

 The first domain (Measurement and Control Element Devices, Device Signals and Transmission Media) tasks may include (with required skills):

  1. select, specify, and design the installation of measurement devices to measure and analyze physical and chemical properties (calculations involved in pressure drop, flow element sizing, differential pressure, hydraulic head pressure, velocity relationships, area relationships, volumetric relationships, density relationships,  mass relationships, work energy, unit conversions, linearization);
  2. select, specify, and design the installation of control element devices to manipulate flows, energy, positions, speeds, and other variables (installation design, calculations for valve sizing, power requirements, heat load, cooling, heating, space conditioning, horsepower and torque, linear actuation force);
  3. design and install wiring to reliably communicate information between measurement and control element devices and control equipment (use of design standard and practices, calculations for voltage, current, impedance and unit conversions);
  4. calibrate, troubleshoot, test, repair, and improve sensing, measurement, and actuation devices (commissioning and troubleshooting). 

The second domain (System Design) tasks may be (with required skills):

  1. perform safety and/or hazard analyses, security analyses, and regulatory compliance assessments by identifying key issues and risks in order to comply with applicable standards, policies, and regulations (analyzing safety integrity levels, hazards, risks, assessing security requirements or relevant security issues, applying regulations to design);
  2. establish standards, templates, and guidelines as applied to the automation system using the information gathered in the definition stage and considering human-factor effects in order to satisfy customer design criteria and preferences (developing programming standards, selecting and sizing instrument equipment, designing instrument installations, designing low-voltage electrical systems, preparing drawing using AutoCAD software);
  3. create detailed equipment specifications and instrument data sheets based on vendor selection criteria, characteristics and conditions of the physical environment, regulations, and performance requirements in order to purchase equipment and support system design and development (selecting and sizing motors and drives, selecting and sizing instrument equipment, designing low-voltage electrical systems, selecting and sizing computers, selecting and sizing control equipment, evaluating vendor alternatives, selecting and sizing of input/output signal devices and/or conditioners);
  4. define the data structure layout and data flow model considering the volume and type of data involved in order to provide specifications for hardware selection and software development (modeling data, tuning and normalizing databases);
  5. select the physical communication media, network architecture, and protocols based on data requirements in order to complete system design and support system development (designing networks based on chosen media, architecture and protocols);
  6. develop a functional description of the automation solution (e.g., control scheme, alarms, HMI, reports) using rules established in the definition stage in order to guide development and programming (writing functional descriptions, interpreting design specifications and user requirements, communicating the functional descriptions to stakeholders);
  7. design the test plan using chosen methodologies in order to execute appropriate testing relative to functional requirements (writing test plans, developing test that validate that the system works as specified);
  8. perform the detailed design for the project by converting the engineering and system design into purchase requisitions, drawings, panel designs, and installation details consistent with the specification and functional descriptions in order to provide detailed information for development and deployment (performing detailed design work, documenting the design);
  9. prepare comprehensive construction work packages by organizing the detailed design information and documents in order to release project for construction (assembling construction work packages).

The third domain (Development) tasks may include:

  1. develop Human Machine Interface (HMI) in accordance with the design documents in order to meet the functional requirements;
  2. develop database and reporting functions in accordance with the design documents in order to meet the functional requirements;
  3. develop control configuration or programming in accordance with the design documents in order to meet the functional requirements;
  4. implement data transfer methodology that maximizes throughput and ensures data integrity using communication protocols and specifications in order to assure efficiency and reliability;
  5. implement security methodology in accordance with stakeholder requirements in order to mitigate loss and risk; 
  6. review configuration and programming using defined practices in order to establish compliance with functional requirements; 
  7. test the automation system using the test plan in order to determine compliance with functional requirements;
  8. assemble all required documentation and user manuals created during the development process in order to transfer essential knowledge to customers and end users.

In the United Kingdom (UK) the term electrical engineering is used to cover power engineering, including the generation, transmission, control and use of all forms of electrical power [10]. The term electronic engineering is used to include the expanding fields of electronic communications (including computer networks), computers (both hardware and software) and electronic components. These components include microcomputer chips and, increasingly, the optical devices now being used for many applications. In addition, the field of control engineering spans the electrical/electronic boundary and, with its use of computer systems, is very broadly based. Manufacturing engineering – involving as it does, computer techniques, control and power electrical engineering – is another major and vital branch within the field of electrical and electronic engineering.  It is important to draw attention to British apprenticeship standards showing what an apprentice will be doing and the skills required of them, by job role. The standards are developed by employer groups known as ‘trailblazers’. More standards are usually published as they are developed and approved. Let us have a look at some of these standards: Process Automation Engineer Degree Apprenticeship Standard, Embedded Electronic Systems Design and Development Engineer Degree Apprenticeship Standard and Electrical/Electronic Technical Support Engineer Degree Apprenticeship Standard.

Basing on ST0407/01 (Process Automation Engineer Degree Apprenticeship Standard) automation of process plant is realized by Integrated Control and Safety Systems (ICSS) which are of a specialized nature, their design reflecting the complexity and risk of operations carried out [11]. Process automation addresses not only the immediate objectives of maintaining control and safe operation of plant and equipment but also the wider issues of enterprise management such as process efficiency, plant utilization, operations optimization, product quality, inventory monitoring, utilities consumption and equipment diagnostics. Process automation lies very much at the interface between disciplines: chemical and electrical engineering, instrumentation and control, maths and computing, software and IT, business and management. To function effectively, process automation engineers require a breadth and depth of knowledge and knowhow across that spectrum. They are involved at all stages in the life cycle of an ICSS: feasibility, specification, design, development, acceptance, installation, commissioning, operation, maintenance and support. Typically, on a project basis, they may be involved in ‘doing’ the specifics of design, development, etc, or in the management thereof. Their work is subject to a variety of constraints: international and company standards, legal, contractual and commercial commitments, not to mention good practice.

 The standard will apply to all apprentices in its entirety although the emphasis will vary for individuals according to which phases of the life cycle they are involved in and depending upon whether they are employed by system suppliers (the vendors), contractors (or system integrators) or end users (the operating companies). The apprenticeship requires completion of an MSc degree in process automation worth 180 UK credits (90 ECTS credits). The MSc degree must be accredited by at least two relevant Professional Engineering Institutions (PEI), such as IChemE, IET and InstMC, for further learning to Master’s level under the UK Standard for  Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC) for graduates with an accredited Bachelor’s degree.

Process Automation Engineermust: know the principles of design and operation of a variety of unit operations and the principal features of construction of related items of process plant;  understand a range of relevant strategies and techniques for the control of both batch and continuous plant, and the knowhow for translating them into designs; know about modern instrumentation for measurement of common process variables, actuation (valves and motors), signal transmission and protocols, intrinsic safety and segregation; know about modern control technology including hardware and infrastructure (power and air supply, trays and trunking, cabling and marshalling), and interfacing to third party equipment; know about with the topology (hardware, its organization and layout), system software, communications and networks, and operator interface of at least one ICSS or equivalent; be familiar with the essential functionality of the real-time languages, structures and tools provided for the development of application software for at least one ICCS or equivalent; understand the organization of alarm systems, the need for alarm management and the quantitative analysis and design of Safety Integrity Level (SIL) rated protection systems; know about the use of control systems as a platform for higher level tasks, such as optimization and statistical process control, and of the database techniques (querying and reporting) used for the integration of control and enterprise management systems; be familiar with key international standards, codes of practice and industry guides, and mandatory requirements, especially regarding protection systems, safety and human factors.

Process Automation Engineergeneral knowledge is: to understand the life cycle of control systems in terms of feasibility, specification, design, development, acceptance, installation, commissioning, operation, maintenance and support; to appreciate the contractual nature of relationships between suppliers, contractors and end users; know about general management practice and, in particular, project management and software engineering methods, to appreciate the contribution of automation to improved safety, sustainability and reduced environmental impact of operations.

The  following analytical and solving skills are required: analyzing complex automation problems of a process nature, reducing them to their underlying issues, and can synthesize solutions subject to constraints; developing qualitative and/or quantitative models and simulations of systems in terms of the functionality of their components and signals and can interpret their input-output relationships; developing dynamic models based upon commercially available simulation packages; adapting and applying control theory, technology and knowhow to the solution of process automation problems, open ended or otherwise.

Technical and commercial leadership skills are also welcomed:ability to interpret requirements for automation and can articulate them in terms of user and functional design requirements, testing and acceptance specifications, and operating procedures; ability to translate those requirements into designs, especially of application software, and can realize them using the standard functionality of a proprietary ICSS or otherwise; ability to manage automation projects in terms of the planning and deployment of human and physical resources for activities such as design, development, testing, documentation; ability to handle the commercial and/or financial aspects of an automation project in terms of costs, resources, overheads, cash flow, margins, profit; ability to make judgments about and take responsibility for technical issues, such as operability, productivity, quality, reliability, safety, security, sustainability and viability, in an industrial context.

 According to ST0151/03 (Embedded Electronic Systems Design and Development Engineer Degree Apprenticeship Standard) the role of the Embedded Electronic Systems Design and Development Engineer is to apply their knowledge of electronics and of embedded software to the design of circuits or devices that provide a useful function, that are capable of being manufactured at a competitive cost, and that are reliable and safe in use [12]. This involves the use of the engineer’s knowledge of electronics and electronic principles, married to an expertise in the end use of the final product. In electronics this end use can cover a wide spectrum. Examples of industrial sectors that rely heavily on Embedded Systems Design and Development Engineers include Aerospace, Automotive, Automation and Instrumentation, Robotics, Telecommunications, Information and Computer Technology, Defense, Energy (including renewables), Transport and Consumer Electronics. The role provides the basis of learning with potential to specialize as a Hardware Engineer, Software engineer or Systems Engineer in these sectors and can extend from design of integrated circuits through to complete systems.

 The Embedded Electronic Systems Design and Development Engineer must be proficient in a wide range of skills, underpinned by academic understanding, to enable them to work across these sub-sectors and specialisms.  A competent Embedded Electronic Systems Design and Development Engineer will meet the following requirements. Knowledge requirements are: understanding of basic electrical theory, knowledge of the method of operation of basic semiconductors and passive components including their most common uses (also the basic formulas used in their application), understanding of design of both analogue and digital circuits and the basic design rules for mixed analogue and digital circuit boards,  comprehension of the fundamentals of structured software design, understanding key aspects of the employer’s business and product applications – against a template to be generated by the employer. Skills requirements include: design functional electronic systems and circuits from component level, utilize modern CAD technology to implement circuit design with understanding of considerations for heat dissipation, electrical interference and other industry specific considerations affecting layout, write and document structured code to comply with industry norms and to allow others to understand and subsequently maintain/modify the code, utilize modeling techniques for circuit design, embedded software development and thermal management, ability to demonstrate an understanding of the principles and practice of design for market, design for manufacturability, design for testability and design for maintainability, ability to develop a test plan for a product that they have developed, ability to explain the process by which a product is introduced into production, including what aspects are discussed at what stage and with whom and how development gateways work, ability to develop a basic project plan including resource planning and time planning, awareness of international standards and compliance requirements for the products designed by the employer, ability to discuss the differences between legislative and non-legislative requirements , ability to demonstrate knowledge of basic business fundamentals including costs (and overheads, gross margin, net margin, profit, and cash), ability to demonstrate awareness and understanding of basic health and safety principles both in the general workplace and specific to electronic circuit design.

 Under Electrical/Electronic Technical Support Engineering Apprenticeship Standard these professionals primarily support manufacturing in both assembly and in product design and development [13]. They support the activities involved in bringing the concept to life and resolving issues within manufacturing. Typically they work closely with other engineers, suppliers and managers covering a broad range of support activity.

 The vocational skills required are: how to comply with statutory requirements and stringent organizational safety requirements; producing components using hand fitting techniques; producing Electrical or Electronic Drawings using a Computer Aided Design (CAD) system; preparing and using lathes, milling and other general or specialist machines and High Tech equipment; wiring and testing electrical equipment, assembling and testing electronic circuits; using computer software packages to assist with engineering activities; producing engineering project plans; maintaining and improving electrical equipment/systems. 

Academic knowledge needed is: mathematics and science for engineers; materials and manufacture; 3D Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Engineering; how to undertake and apply business-led projects; understanding actuators and sensors; electrical and electronic principles and electronic devices and applications; product improvement and engineering project management; digital electronics and microprocessors.

Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is a skill-based classification of occupations, developed as the national standard for organising occupation-related information for purposes such as policy development and review, human resource management, and labour market and social research [14]. The classification includes all jobs in the Australian workforce.ANZSCO should be used in the collection and dissemination of all official statistics on occupation. For example, the classification should be used when collecting, aggregating and disseminating data relating to affirmative action issues, the incidence and prevalence of accidents, wage rises, occupation-related morbidity rates, job vacancies and careers counselling.ANZSCO has replaced the Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO) Second Edition, and provides a more contemporary and internationally comparable occupation classification system. The latest edition of ANZSCO, version 1.2 (2013), builds on a review conducted in 2009 (ANZSCO First Edition, Revision 1) following the classification's introduction in 2006.

According to the standard ANZSCO-2334 Electronic engineers design, develop, adapt, install, test and maintain electronic components, circuits and systems used for computer systems, communication systems, entertainment, transport and other industrial applications [15]. Most occupations in this ANZSCOunit group (2334 «Electronics engineers») have a level of skill commensurate with a bachelor degree or higher qualification, in some instances relevant experience and/or on-the-job training may be required in addition to the formal qualification.Electronics engineers tasks may include:designing electronic components, circuits and systems used for computer, communication and control systems, and other industrial applications; designing software, especially embedded software, to be used within such systems; developing apparatus and procedures to test electronic components, circuits and systems; supervising installation and commissioning of computer, communication and control systems, and ensuring proper control and protection methods; establishing and monitoring performance and safety standards and procedures for operation, modification, maintenance and repair of such systems; designing communications bearers based on wired, optical fibre and wireless communication media; analyzing communications traffic and level of service, and determining the type of installation, location, layout and transmission medium for communication systems; designing and developing signal processing algorithms and implementing these through appropriate choice of hardware and software. Specialization may be as Communications Engineer (Army).

Under the standard ANZSCO-2333 electrical engineers design, develop and supervise the manufacture, installation, operation and maintenance of equipment, machines and systems for the generation, distribution, utilization and control of electric power [16]. Most occupations of electrical engineer group (2333 «Electrical engineers»)  have a level of skill commensurate with a bachelor degree or higher qualification. In some instances relevant experience and/or on-the-job training may be also required in addition to the formal qualification. Electrical engineer tasks may be:planning and designing power stations and power generation equipment;determining the type and arrangement of circuits, transformers, circuit-breakers, transmission lines and other equipment;developing products such as electric motors, components, equipment and appliances; interpreting specifications, drawings, standards and regulations relating to electric power equipment and use; organizing and managing resources used in the supply of electrical components, machines, appliances and equipment; establishing delivery and installation schedules for machines, switchgear, cables and fittings; supervising the operation and maintenance of power stations, transmission and distribution systems and industrial plants; designing and installing control and signaling equipment for road, rail and air traffic;may specialize in research in areas such as power generation and transmission systems, transformers, switchgear and electric motors, telemetry and control systems.Electrical engineer specializations are the following ones: Electrical Design Engineer; Railway Signaling Engineer; Signaling and Communications Engineer.

Professional standards in China are divided into 58 industry sectors each being managed and maintained by the competent Chinese sectorial ministry or organization. Unfortunately, at the moment no centralized database exists for accessing information on professional standards (and in particular in electrical engineering).  As a result, searching professional standards in electrical engineeringcan be difficult and will often require Chinese language skills. At the same time it would be necessary for the purposes of our review to mention so called the Hong Kong Qualifications Framework for Electrical Engineering Branch. The Electrical and Mechanical Industry Training Advisory Committee (ITAC) was set up to facilitate the implementation of the Hong Kong Qualifications Framework in the industry. It is a hierarchy that provides benchmarks for determining the level of complexity and difficulty of individual competencies. It is also used to order and support qualifications of different natures and titles. The Hong Kong Qualifications Framework has in place an independent quality assurance system that would enhance recognition and acceptance of the qualifications in the industry, irrespective of the mode and source of learning. The Hong Kong Qualifications Framework has seven levels, from level 1 to level 7, where level 1 is the lowest and level 7 the highest. The outcome characteristic of each level is depicted by a set of generic level descriptors. The generic level descriptors specify for each level its generic complexity, demand and challenges in the four dimensions below: knowledge and intellectual skills; process; application, autonomy and accountability; and communications, IT skills and numeracy.

2. Dublin descriptors and European Qualifications Framework  

Dublin descriptors

The JQI Dublin descriptors for Bachelors and Masters were first proposed in March 2002  It is proposed that for a better understanding of the ‘Dublin descriptors’ in the context of the Berlin communiqué and their possible future usage, alternative headings, as indicated below, may be more appropriate: Bachelor’s degrees are awarded to students who: alternative Qualifications that signify completion of the first cycle are awarded to students who: have demonstrated knowledge and understanding in a field of study that builds upon and supersedes their general secondary education, and is typically at a level that, whilst supported by advanced textbooks, includes some aspects that will be informed by knowledge of the forefront of their field of study; can apply their knowledge and understanding in a manner that indicates a professional approach to their work or vocation, and have competences  typically demonstrated through devising and sustaining arguments and solving problems within their field of study; have the ability to gather and interpret relevant data (usually within their field of study) to inform judgements that include reflection on relevant social, scientific or ethical issues; can communicate information, ideas, problems and solutions to both specialist and nonspecialist audiences; have developed those learning skills that are necessary for them to continue to undertake further study with a high degree of autonomy.

Master’s degrees are awarded to students who:


Qualifications that signify completion of the second cycle are awarded to students who:

have demonstrated knowledge and understanding that is founded upon and extends and/or enhances that typically associated with Bachelor’s level, and that provides a basis or opportunity for originality in developing and/or applying ideas, often within a research context; can apply their knowledge and understanding, and problem solving abilities in new or unfamiliar environments within broader (or multidisciplinary) contexts related to their field of study; have the ability to integrate knowledge and handle complexity, and formulate judgements with incomplete or limited information, but that include reflecting on social and ethical responsibilities linked to the application of their knowledge and judgements; can communicate their conclusions, and the knowledge and rationale underpinning these, to specialist and non-specialist audiences clearly and unambiguously; have the learning skills to allow them to continue to study in a manner that may be largely self-directed or autonomous. 

The European Qualifications Framework (EQF)

Agreed by the European Commission and Parliament in 2008, the European Qualification

Framework (EQF) recommendation is now being put into practice across Europe. It 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. It encourages countries to develop and relate their National Qualifications Framework (NQF) to the EQF so that all qualifications issued will carry a reference to the appropriate EQF Level. The National Qualifications Framework in each EU country will identify the appropriate EQF Level. European countries are increasingly emphasizing the need to recognise an individual’s knowledge, skills and competences – those acquired not only at school, university or other education and training institutions, but also outside the formal system. Validation of the acquired competences is already well organised in some countries and European guidelines have been developed for this purpose. The EQF is closely related to the qualifications framework for the European Higher Education Area 

The EQF defines learning outcomesas statements of what a learner knows, understands and is able to do on completion of a learning process, which are defined in terms of knowledge, skills and competence.

EQF defines knowledge, skills and competence as follows:

• Knowledgemeans the outcome of the assimilation of information through learning. Knowledge is the body of facts, principles, theories and practices that is related to a field of work or study. In the context of the European Qualifications Framework knowledge is described as theoretical or factual.

• Skillsmeans the ability to apply knowledge and use know-how to complete tasks and solve problems. In the context of the European Qualifications Framework skills is described as cognitive (involving the use of logical, intuitive and creative thinking) or practical (involving manual dexterity and the use of methods, materials, tools and instruments).

• Competencemeans the proven ability to use knowledge, skills and personal social and/or methodological abilities, in work or study situations and in professional and personal development. In the context of the European Qualifications Framework competence is described in terms of responsibility and autonomy

The descriptor for the second cycle corresponds to the learning outcomes for EQF level 7.




Responsibility and autonomy

Level 7

The learning outcomes relevant to Level 7 are

Highly specialised knowledge, some of which is at the forefront of knowledge in a field of work or study, as the basis for original thinking and/or research

Critical awareness of knowledge issues in a field and at the interface between different fields

Specialised problem-solving skills required in research and/or innovation in order to develop new knowledge and procedures and to integrate knowledge from different fields

Manage and transform work or study contexts that are complex, unpredictable and require new strategic approaches; take responsibility for contributing to professional knowledge and practice and/or for reviewing the strategic performance of teams