x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Qualification assessment scheme will start next year

A scheme to allow employers and universities to compare international qualifications, including vocational and academic, comes into effect next year.

ABU DHABI // A scheme to allow employers and universities to compare international qualifications, including vocational and academic, is due to come into effect next year. The Qualifications Framework Project is proposing a 10-point scale to evaluate qualifications. Detailed descriptions of students' knowledge, skills and responsibilities at each level are also being formulated.

Work began after a directive from Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, who said it would be useful for employers and to higher-education institutions, which would get a clearer idea of what to include in courses. Faisal Albakeri, the project director, said: "It will guarantee the recognition of foreign qualifications, so the learning outcomes of people from different countries, from Asia or Europe, would be mapped against this framework."

Top of the scale is the doctorate, which is worth 10 points. A master's degree is nine, and a bachelor's degree is eight points. The International Baccalaureate would count as five points and a high-school leaving certificate four. Vocational qualifications would be ranked on a similar scale, with a foundation-level certificate given two points and an associate diploma five points. Prof Xavier Rodrigues, an adviser to the project, said: "Other countries have a vocational framework, but it's distinct from the academic. This integrated framework will permit movement between the systems."

Mr Albakeri said this flexibility would encourage a culture of "lifelong learning", as people could transfer between different areas of education and different industries more easily. Training courses, professional experience and classroom learning would be taken into account when a person's position on the scale was calculated. "We're working in co-ordination with industry to establish occupational standards," Mr Albakeri said. "The educational providers will use these standards to tailor-make their programmes, to ensure what's provided meets the demands of industry."

The project was set up by the board of trustees of the UAE's Institute of Applied Technology in January 2007 and is supported by the UAE armed forces, which will apply the framework. Project officials said the UAE would be the first country in the region to have a central system to recognise qualifications. A similar 10-point scale is used in Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia. dbardsley@thenational.ae