ECVET is a system for transferring achievements – that is, cooperation between educational institutions and people operating in different contexts. Communication between representatives of various circles, whether in an international context or at the interface between qualifications subsystems in one country, largely depends on whether they operate on a common set of terms. For this reason, an important element of ECVET are the so-called technical specifications – defining the stock of common concepts.


The national terminological order in Poland, as well as in other countries, may differ from the general definitions adopted in the ECVET recommendation. This is also the case in Poland, but the introduction of the Integrated Qualifications System was associated with the ordering of terminology in this area – see the Dictionary of the Integrated Qualifications System.


The terms used in credit transfer, accumulation and qualifications systems are in line with those used in education. However, due to the different distribution of stresses (i.e. on the learning process or its outcome), misunderstandings may arise as to their interpretation.


Learning objectives, learning outcomes and learning outcomes

In education, one of the basic tools for planning and implementing education are the ‘goals of education’ and ‘learning outcomes’. According to In Okonia, the school curriculum is about presenting the aims, content and methods of teaching and learning a subject, often also the results that should be achieved by students. Learning objectives can be general or operationalized. The more operationalized they are, the more they resemble learning outcomes. It is not without reason that in the work on the core curriculum for vocational education (described with the help of the learning outcomes), the taxonomy of B. Niemierka’s learning goals was used. To simplify it, we can say that the goals of education are the assumed learning outcomes.

The education law defines the core curriculum for vocational training as “a compulsory set of learning objectives and teaching content described in the form of the expected learning outcomes: knowledge, professional skills, and personal and social competences necessary for the profession or qualifications distinguished in the profession, included in the curricula, and verification of these effects, enabling the determination of criteria for school grades and examination requirements, as well as the conditions for the implementation of education in the profession, including equipment and devices necessary for the implementation of this education and the minimum number of hours of training in the profession “(Art. U. of 2020, items 910, 1378).

The difference between learning outcomes and learning outcomes lies in the perspective of their formulation. In most cases, these terms are used as a convention and there is no practical difference between them, but it is worth noting that in the case of qualifications defined by employers’ circles or professional organizations, we can rather expect the formulation of “learning outcomes”. Mainly due to the greater variety of “sources” of skills – they can be the result of, for example, learning in the workplace or self-study. Another aspect of the distinction between ‘learning’ and ‘learning’ outcomes is that some learning outcomes may be unintended or simply unrelated to the learning objectives.


Occupations and qualifications in vocational education, and the definition of qualifications is in line with ECVET and IQS

Traditionally, vocational education is conducted in a specific occupation, and after completing the education, an examination was held, as a result of which the student could obtain a qualification. Since 2012, more than one qualification may be separated within one profession, and examinations may be taken during education.

It is justified to award qualifications that confirm the learning outcomes covering the entire profession, as well as to award qualifications that confirm the part of learning outcomes separated within the profession – that is why complex and component qualifications function side by side. E.g:

The component qualifications “ROL.04. Conducting agricultural production ”and“ ROL.10. Organization and supervision of agricultural production “constitute the qualification” Farmer technician “. Component qualifications are confirmed by certificates of professional qualifications (previously – certificates), and qualifications submitted by diplomas. Obtaining the qualification of “Farmer Technician” additionally requires secondary education and is awarded on the basis of the presentation of appropriate certificates and a diploma of graduation.

This approach is consistent with the definition of qualifications in ECVET, and the IQS Act additionally introduces the concepts of “full qualification” and “partial qualification”, which in this case overlap with diplomas and certificates (respectively).


Qualification and the study program in higher education

Traditionally, qualifications in higher education are obtained by studying and preparing a thesis. The custom is so strong that in some countries the terms “program” and “qualification” are used interchangeably. Also in Poland, one may encounter the question “what kind of studies did you finish” (or its variation) rather than what degree do you have.

In Poland, with the introduction of the Bologna system, first-cycle and second-cycle studies appeared. These studies are described by the study program (previously also the education program), and after their completion and submission of the diploma thesis, a graduation diploma is obtained. In accordance with the ECVET Recommendation and in accordance with the IQS Act, these diplomas are qualifications, respectively:

  • first-cycle studies diploma – confirms that the full qualification has been granted at level 6 of the Polish Qualifications Framework;
  • diploma of completion of second-cycle studies and diploma of completion of uniform master’s studies – confirm that the full qualification has been granted at level 7 of the Polish Qualifications Framework;


Training time and ECTS, ECVET points and indicative workload in IQS

In education, a natural unit of measuring the duration of a course or program is the hour of classes, the so-called contact hour, which is sometimes expressed in school hours (45 minutes) or clock hours (60 minutes). This approach reflects the learning provider’s perspective.

On the other hand, to express the labor intensity related to mastering a specific set of knowledge, skills and social competences and obtaining qualifications, more valuable information is the total time spent on average on learning by the student / student. Total time includes both the time spent in class, self-study and taking the exam.

Workload understood in this way is often expressed in points – for example through ECTS points (where 1 point corresponds to 25-30 hours of student’s own work), and sometimes also in hours (see approximate workload related to obtaining a market qualification in IQS).

The ECVET Recommendation provided for the possibility of using ECVET points, but allowed for the use of various criteria for awarding them, including the level of difficulty or the importance of individual units of learning outcomes in the qualification (specifying only 60 points as corresponding to the year of full-time education). For this reason (and also because of the much greater variation in the “average learner”), ECVET points were not widely used.



A qualification is a set of learning outcomes in the field of knowledge, skills and social competences, acquired in formal education, non-formal education or through informal learning, consistent with the requirements set for a given qualification, the achievement of which has been checked in validation and formally confirmed by an authorized certifying entity. (Act on IQS art. 2, point 8)


See also entries in the ZSK Dictionary:

  • Qualification in the profession
  • Qualifications awarded in the education and higher education systems
  • Partial qualifications
  • Full qualifications
  • Market Qualifications
  • Qualifications settled


qualification according to the ECVET Recommendation:


means the formal outcome of an assessment and validation process that results from the determination by a competent institution that an individual has achieved learning outcomes to specified standards;


“Learning outcomes”

Learning outcomes are knowledge, skills and social competences acquired in the learning process. (Act on IQS art. 2, point 4)

Knowledge is a set of descriptions of objects and facts, principles, theories, and practices acquired in the learning process related to a field of learning or professional activity. (Act on IQS art.2, point 23)

Skills are the ability, acquired in the learning process, to perform tasks and solve problems specific to the field of learning or professional activity. (Act on IQS art. 2, point 21)

Social competences are the ability to shape one’s own development and autonomous and responsible participation in professional and social life, taking into account the ethical context of one’s own conduct, developed in the course of learning. (Act on IQS art. 2, point 7)


learning outcomes according to the ECVET Recommendation

means a statement of what the learner knows, understands and can do after completing the learning process, in terms of knowledge, skills and competences


“Unit / set of learning outcomes”

unit of learning outcomes according to the ECVET Recommendation means a qualification component, which is a coherent set of knowledge, skills and competences that can be assessed and validated;

In the IQS Act, there is a term set of learning outcomes which means the same thing. A set of learning outcomes can be verified and then accumulated and recognized (transferred) as an achievement.

Sets of learning outcomes are part of the structure of the description of a market qualification, which includes:

  1. synthetic characteristics of learning outcomes,
  2. separate sets of learning outcomes,
  3. sets of individual learning outcomes and the criteria for verifying the achievement of individual learning outcomes […]. (Act on IQS art. 9, section 1)



Achievements are a separate set of learning outcomes, the achievement of which has been confirmed in validation, which is part of the requirements for a given market qualification. (Act on IQS art. 48, section 2)


achievements according to the ECVET Recommendation:

Achievements corresponding to learning outcomes means a set of individual learning outcomes of an individual that have been assessed and can be accumulated for obtaining a qualification or transferred to other education / learning programs or qualifications;


“Competent institution”

competent institution according to the ECVET Recommendation:

means an institution responsible for the development and award of qualifications, or the recognition of units, or with other functions related to ECVET, such as the attribution of ECVET points to qualifications and units, and the assessment, validation and recognition of learning outcomes in accordance with the rules and practices of the participating countries;


“Verification of learning outcomes”

verification concerns the learning outcomes (assessment) and is a stage in the validation process. Verification of learning outcomes means checking that the learning outcomes have been achieved by the individual.

The English term assessment is most often translated into Polish as assessment. However, in the context of ECVET and IQS, the English assessment corresponding to the term does not mean grading understood as issuing a grade according to the adopted scale (eg 1-6).


assessment of learning outcomes according to the ECVET Recommendation:


‘Assessment of learning outcomes means the methods and processes leading to the determination of the extent to which the learner has actually acquired certain knowledge, acquired certain skills and acquired certain competences;



checking whether the person applying for a specific qualification, regardless of the way of learning of this person, has achieved a separate part or all of the learning outcomes required for this qualification. (Act on IQS art. 2, point 22)

Validation is a multi-dimensional and multi-stage process that involves identifying, documenting and verifying the learning outcomes of a specific person. Identifying and documenting are especially important for those learning without structured learning.

validation according to Recommendations on validation on validating non-formal and informal learning

“Validation” means the process of the approval by an authorized body that an individual has obtained learning outcomes measured to appropriate standards; it consists of the following four separate steps:

  • IDENTIFICATION of a person’s specific experiences through conversation;
  • DOCUMENTATION to showcase a person’s experience;
  • formal EVALUATION of these experiences and
  • CERTIFICATION of the results of the assessment that may lead to a partial or full qualification;


Note: The ECVET Recommendation uses the term validation in a different sense.

validation according to the ECVET Recommendation:

‘Validation of learning outcomes’ means the process of confirming that specific assessed learning outcomes achieved by a learner correspond to the specific outcomes required for an unit or a qualification;


“Recognition of achievements”

recognition (also: transfer) of achievement means the recognition by the certifying authority of a positive result of a validation (individual sets of learning outcomes) that has been carried out by other institutions.

  1. The certifying authority may, in the course of certifying a given market qualification, recognize the achievements obtained in connection with applying for another qualification included in the Integrated Qualifications System as identical to the achievements constituting part of the requirements for a given market qualification, on the basis of a document confirming the award of another qualification.
  2. The certifying authority may, in the course of certifying a given market qualification, recognize other achievements than those specified in par. 1, for the same as the achievements forming part of the requirements for a given market qualification, if the achievement of these achievements has been verified in the validation.
  3. In the case referred to in paragraph. 2, recognition of achievements takes place on the basis of an interview with the person applying for granting a given market qualification and on the basis of the assessment of the documentation provided by that person.
  4. Achievements recognized in the manner specified in paragraph 1 or 2 are not subject to re-validation.

(Act on the IQS art. 49, sections 1-4)


recognition of learning outcomes according to the ECVET Recommendation:

means the process of officially validating the learning outcomes achieved through the award of a full qualification or its constituent elements – learning units;


“ECVET points”

Note: ECVET points should only be indicated if partners consider that they will add value and decide to use them. ECVET points are not a mandatory part of a mobility project using ECVET.

ECVET points according to the ECVET Recommendation:

denote a numerical representation of the overall value of learning outcomes for a qualification and the relative value of units in relation to the full qualification


“Polish Qualifications Frame”

The Polish Qualifications Framework is a description of eight levels of qualifications distinguished in Poland, corresponding to the relevant levels of the European Qualifications Framework, referred to in Annex II to the Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2008 on the establishment of the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning ( Official Journal of the EU C 111 of 06.05.2008, p. 1), formulated with the use of general characteristics of learning outcomes for qualifications at individual levels, in terms of knowledge, skills and social competences. (Act on IQS art. 2, point 16)

More on the subject in the publication „Polish Qualifications Frame”.

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