The ECTE Certification Framework
The ECTE Certification Framework defines the levels at which ECTE accredits different programmes. This document is an integral part of ECTE’s Standards and Guidelines for accreditation and determines many aspects of the accreditation process, as well as providing the categories for the ECTE Accreditation Directory.
As a subject-specific QA agency for the discipline of theology, the ECTE specialises in level certification for higher education institutions (HEIs) and alternative providers of higher education (APs). ECTE accreditation aims to determine the quality and level of learning opportunities at EQF levels 5, 6 and 7 but does not determine the status of institutions nor their ability to award formal degrees. The definitions of levels and synopses of standards are mainly based on the European Qualifications Framework for Higher Education (EQF) that provides a comprehensive map of all types and levels of qualifications in Europe. The EQF is an eight level learning outcomes-based framework that serves as a translation tool between different frameworks. The ECTE conducts accreditation activities at EQF levels 5-7.
Starting from the EQF level as the main reference point, the Certification Framework also includes other qualification descriptors, that include:
- A general programme description. This is a synopsis of the EQF learning outcomes.
- The ECTS credits of each programme. These are also used to determine whether some of the EQF levels are complete or partial.
- The learning outcomes as defined by the EQF level and applied to the discipline of theology. For EQF levels 6 and 7 a distinction is also made between research-oriented and practice-oriented programmes.
- The duration of the course of study, expressed in full-time equivalence (FTE).
- The QF-EHEA level (short, first, second cycle) that applies only to Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).
- The ISCED level. This is an exercise in comparability to the UNESCO International Standard Classification of Education which is particularly useful for international student mobility.
- The ICETE level. This is an exercise in comparability to the ICETE Qualification Comparability Framework which is particularly useful for student mobility and progression within global theological institutions.
Given the nuances of international qualifications, issues of the language of delivery and qualification denomination and factors involving protected nomenclature in certain countries, the main reference point in the ECTE Certification Framework are not the typical English terms like ‘certificate’, ‘diploma’, ‘bachelor’ and ‘master’.
Although comparability indicators are provided through the ISCED and ICETE levels, it should be clear that the ECTE certifies only EQF levels.
Within national legal frameworks, each accredited institution should identify and use further qualification nomenclatures in the language of delivery. Alternative providers of higher education need to pay particular attention to not use qualification nomenclatures in their local contexts that are reserved for higher education institutions. See also Accreditation and institutional status.
The Diploma Supplement should be used to fully describe the qualification within the accredited EQF level.