European Qualifications Framework

This happened in August.

I went to register for the ‘Leben in Deutschland’ (Living in Germany) test, which is a mandatory requirement for my kind of visa. Although this is a governmental test, it is managed externally by language schools.

After waiting for a couple of minutes, the language school employee standing on the other side of the counter gave an already filled-in form for me to sign. As I started reading it, this is what happened:

  • He told me: ‘It’s nothing important, just sign it’.
  • Me: It’s okay, but I still want to read it.
  • He: It’s just your name, age and bureaucratic stuff.
  • Me: It’s just one page I’ll be fast.

As he said, everything was trivial and he had written my name, date of birth and other information correctly. There was only one thing:

  • Me: What does this (EQF) mean?
  • He: Oh, that’s just for administrative purposes. It’s nothing. [He was trying literally to take the formulary off my hands]
  • Me: Okay, but since I’m the one signing this document, I need you to explain me what this is and what this number mean.

EQF means European Qualifications Framework. I had no idea back then. It’s a European Union ‘tool’ to understand what all the different academic titles across Europe mean (because the education systems of European countries are not all the same).

The formulary contained 8 numbers and he had marked the number 3, but nowhere on the document there was a description of what each of these numbers meant.

  • He: Okay, it’s about educational level. So, do you have a master’s degree?
  • Me: Yes, I do!
  • He: I thought so. Then option 3 is correct, see? Three means you have a master’s degree.
  • Me: Oh, okay. Then here you go [and I signed].

I felt so embarrassed!!! I had assumed that he assumed I did NOT have a degree just because of my broken German or the way I looked or dressed or whatever. But I was wrong… was I????

Well… once back home I couldn’t avoid checking what this EQF was all about and I came across this:

  • Level 3: Occupations requiring training for 2 years.

I was a 7. In the German government database, however, I’m a 3.


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