The MQF Impact Assessment Study
The Malta Qualifications Framework (MQF) is an important tool to put lifelong learning and adult learning opportunities into practice by improving access, progression and valuing of all types of acquired competences. It provides consistency and coherence with the European Qualifications Framework and promotes the concept of mutual trust through robust quality assurance mechanisms across all levels of the MQF.
The lack of systemic evidence particularly around the difference the MQF has made to learners, job sectors and the economy led the NCFHE, feel the need to implement an impact assessment to review the impact of the MQF since its inception in 2007.
Following the Cedefop’s background paper, published in 2017, on the measuring and evaluation of NQF impact, the NCFHE conducted a desktop research which resulted in an internal overview of impact studies from eight different countries to help inform their own requirements. The overview looked into reasons for each impact study along with the methodology used and concluded with a proposal for review of the MQF. This proposal was further developed into the terms of reference for the impact assessment study. As the terms of reference for the proposed impact assessment were quite wide, and in order to produce clear evidence-based recommendations for future action, both quantitative and qualitative data was collected to allow for a suitable in-depth analysis.
As part of an Erasmus + project, the Research & Policy Unit launched the MQF Impact Assessment study project in collaboration with the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework Partnership (SCQF). A Webinar titled “Launching the MQF impact assessment study” held on the 7th April 2020 was organised The event was focused on the most important aspects of the Impact Assessment of the Malta Qualifications Framework which is to be conducted in 2020. The Webinar was moderated by the research and policy unit, represented by the MQF Coordinator, Ms Madonna Maroun. The online event was attended by 100 participants and only technical limitations did not allow us to invite more people. The participants were welcomed by Hon Dr Owen Bonnici, the Minister for Education and Employment, and Dr Rose Anne Cuschieri, CEO MFHEA. Ms Anastasia Pouliou, a CEDEFOP Expert from the Department for VET Systems and Institutions, gave an overview of national qualifications database developments in Europe. Prof. James Calleja, provided the participants with the context of establishing the Malta Qualifications Framework two decades ago. In turn, Ms Aileen Ponton from the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework Partnership outlined the MQF Impact Assessment.
The data collection for the impact assessment study was held in three phases: 1. an online survey, 2. focus groups, and 3. One-to-one interviews.
Phase 1: Online Survey
Quantitative and qualitative data was collected by means of a comprehensive on-line survey tailored to each sector and promoted through partner organisations as well as via the NCFHE website and social media channels.
By the end of the online survey, which took place in Summer 2020, a total of 981 responses from all the stakeholders’ groups were collected. Data was analysed to give overall facts and figures relating to impact but also examined in more depth to generate questions pertaining to certain key aspects of feedback which are being used as a basis for the planned focus groups and interviews.
Phase 2: Focus Groups
The next step of the review involved 8 of focus groups with representatives from main stakeholders took place in October 2020 . The objective of those focus groups discussions is to maximise discussion among delegates facilitated by NCFHE.
Phase 3: Interviews
The third step of the review involved 21 semi-structured interviews with key partners. NCFHE conducted these interviews using an agreed set of questions. The interviews were transcribed and shared with the SCQFP.
The final report with the assessment and analysis was finalized in December and the full report will be presented in Q1 of 2021 and will provide recommendations for further implementation, promotion and regulation of the MQF and suggest baseline indicators for future reviews.