The aim of the national higher education qualifications framework is to provide for a uniform and transparent description of all qualifications within a national higher education system. The European higher education framework is the overarching framework allowing for elaboration and transparent link to national higher education qualifications frameworks.
The working group establishing the overarching qualifications framework in the European Higher Education Area defined the concept as follows: an overarching higher education qualifications framework makes transparent the relationship between national higher education frameworks and the qualifications they contain. It is an articulation mechanism between national higher education qualifications frameworks.
The overarching qualifications framework in the European Higher Education Area was elaborated at the Berlin ministerial conference in 2003, while 45 ministers of higher education at their meeting in Bergen 2005 agreed to set up the qualifications framework in the European Higher Education Area comprising three cycles (including the possibility of intermediate qualifications at national level). Generic descriptors of the first and second cycle will be based on learning outcomes, competences and ECTS credit ranges. The ministers committed themselves to developing national higher education qualifications frameworks by 2010, whereas the ministerial conference in Leuven in 2009 extended the deadline for the completion of national qualifications frameworks by 2012.