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Glossary of Terms

Qualifications Registry of Jamaica

This glossary provides a list of technical terms frequently used in Higher Education and associated with the National Qualification Framework of Jamaica


  1. Opportunity to pursue education and training, including relevant qualifications and part-time qualifications for all prospective learners (South African Qualifications Authority, 2017)
  2. Certain qualifications convey the holder with the right to access specific qualifications at a particular education level within the education system in which the qualification was taken. For instance a first cycle degree usually provides access to second cycle studies. (Tuning Education Structures in Europe, 2021)

Accreditation is the status granted to a programme or institution that has been found, through self-study and peer review, to meet or exceed established standards for educational quality. The status is determined through the process of evaluating the programme or institution against the standards. (University Council of Jamaica, 2020)

Articulation Agreement: An articulation agreement is a formal partnership between two or more institutions of higher education. Typically, this type of agreement is formed between a community college and a four-year institution with the goal of creating a seamless transfer process for students. (Barrington, 2020)

Assessment: The process used to identify, gather and interpret information against the required competencies in a qualification or part-qualification in order to make a judgment about a learner’s achievement. (South African Qualifications Authority, 2017)

Awarding body: A body with the authority to issue qualifications (certificates and diplomas) formally recognising the achievements of an individual, following a standard assessment procedure. (UNESCO/UNEVOC International Centre for TVET, 2021)

Comparability of Qualifications: The comparison of one qualification with another based on high-level criteria that enable the degree of similarity of the qualification to be established by a non-subject matter expert. (UNESCO, 2015)

Competence: The application of knowledge and skills in context which is described using learning outcomes. (UNESCO/UNEVOC International Centre for TVET, 2021)

Competent authority: an individual or entity that has the authority, capacity, or legal power to perform a designated function. (UNESCO, 2020)

Competent recognition authority: an entity which, in accordance with the laws, regulations, policies, or practices of a State Party, assesses qualifications and/or makes decisions on the recognition of qualifications. (UNESCO, 2020)

Credit hour: A credit hour is a way of measuring how much credit a student receives for attending a course which corresponds to the hours per week spent in that course. (Mitchell, 2021)

Formal learning: learning derived from activities within a structured learning setting, leading to a formal qualification, and provided by an education institution recognized by a State Party’s competent authorities. (UNESCO, 2020)

Informal learning: learning which occurs outside the formal education system and which results from daily life activities related to work, family, local community, or leisure. (UNESCO 2020,)

International joint degree: a type of cross-border education degree; a single degree recognized and/or authorized and conferred jointly upon completion of an integrated, coordinated and jointly offered programme, by two or more higher education institutions belonging to more than one country. (UNESCO, 2020)

International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) The International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) is a framework for assembling, compiling and analysing cross-nationally comparable statistics on education. ISCED is a member of the United Nations International Family of Economic and Social Classifications and is the reference classification for organizing education programmes and related qualifications by levels and fields of education.  (UNESCO Institute for Staitistics, 2014)

Jamaica Standard Occupational Classification (JSOC) The Jamaica Standard Occupational Classification (JSOC) 2015 organizes similar occupations into a structured list of distinct categories. It is based on the 2008 International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO) produced by the International Labour Organization (ILO). Featured in the 2015 revision are descriptions of each occupation including a summary, major tasks, qualifications, skills required and related occupations, The major occupation groups are:

  • Managers
  • Professionals
  • Technicians and Associate Professionals
  • Clerical Support Workers
  • Services and Sales Workers
  • Skilled Agricultural, Forestry and Fishery workers
  • Craft and related Trades Workers
  • Plant and Machine Operators and Assemblers
  • Elementary Occupations
  • Armed Forces Occupations (Statistical Institute of Jamaica, 2021)

Learning outcomes are statements that describe the knowledge or skills students should acquire by the end of a particular assignment, class, course, or program, and help students understand why that knowledge and those skills will be useful to them. They focus on the context and potential applications of knowledge and skills, help students connect learning in various contexts, and help guide assessment and evaluation. (Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation, University of Toronto, 2021)

Levels of qualification:  The term covers two aspects: level of attainment in formal education and training, recognised in a qualification system or in a qualification framework or level of proficiency acquired through education and training, work experience or in non-formal/informal/ settings (UNESCO/UNEVOC International Centre for TVET, 2021)

Mobility: the physical or virtual movement of individuals outside their country for the purpose of studying, researching, teaching, or working. (UNESCO, 2020)

Non-formal learning: learning achieved within an education or training framework which places an emphasis on working life and which does not belong to the formal education system. (UNESCO, 2020)

Non-traditional learning modes: formal, non-formal and informal mechanisms for the delivery of educational programmes and learning activities not primarily relying on face-to-face interaction between the educator and the learner. (UNESCO, 2020)

Partial recognition: the partial recognition of a full and completed qualification which cannot be fully recognized on account of the demonstration of substantial differences by a competent recognition authority. (UNESCO, 2020)

Prior Learning Assessment Recognition (PLAR) or Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) An assessment process that assesses the individual’s formal and non-formal learning to determine the extent to which that individual has achieved the required learning or competency outcomes; (UNESCO/UNEVOC International Centre for TVET, 2021)

 Prior Learning: The knowledge, know-how and/or competencies acquired through previously unrecognized training or experience. (UNESCO/UNEVOC International Centre for TVET, 2021)


(a) Higher education qualification: any degree, diploma, certificate, or award issued by a competent authority and attesting the successful completion of a higher education programme or the validation of prior learning, where applicable.

(b) Qualification giving access to higher education: any degree, diploma, certificate, or award issued by a competent authority and attesting the successful completion of an education programme or the validation of prior learning, where applicable, and giving the holder of the qualification the right to be considered for admission to higher education. (UNESCO, 2020)

Qualification Descriptors: Generic statements of the outcomes of study. They provide clear points of reference that describe the main outcomes of a qualification often with reference to national levels. (Tuning Education Structures in Europe, 2021)

Qualifications framework: a system for the classification, publication and organization of quality-assured qualifications according to a set of criteria. (UNESCO, 2020)

Qualified applicant: an individual who has fulfilled relevant criteria and is considered eligible to apply for admission to higher education. (UNESCO, 2020)

Quality assurance: an ongoing process by which the quality of a higher-education system, institution, or programme is assessed by the competent authority/authorities to assure stakeholders that acceptable educational standards are continuously being maintained and enhanced. (UNESCO, 2020)

Recognition: a formal acknowledgment by a competent recognition authority of the validity and academic level of a foreign education qualification, of partial studies, or of prior learning for the purpose of providing an applicant with outcomes including, but not limited to:

(a) The right to apply for admission to higher education; and/or

(b) The possibility to seek employment opportunities.  (UNESCO, 2020)



Barrington. (2020). What is articulation. Retrieved from Community College Review: https://www.communitycollegereview.com/blog/what-is-an-articulation

Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation, University of Toronto. (2021). What are Learning Outcomes. Retrieved from Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation: https://teaching.utoronto.ca/teaching-support/course-design/developing-learning-outcomes/what-are-learning-outcomes/

Mitchell, L. (2021). What are Credit hours in a college. Retrieved from Study.com: https://study.com/academy/popular/what-are-credit-hours-in-college.html

South African Qualifications Authority. (2017). NQF Standard Glossary of Terms. Retrieved from South African Qualifications Authority: https://hr.saqa.co.za/glossary/pdf/NQFPedia.pdf#

Statistical Institute of Jamaica. (2021). Publications: Jamaica Standard Occupational Classification. Retrieved from Statistical Institute of Jamaica: https://statinja.gov.jm/Publications.aspx

Tuning Education Structures in Europe. (2021). Glossary of Terms. Retrieved from Tuning Education Structures in Europe: https://www.unideusto.org/tuningeu/documents/glossary-of-terms.html

UNESCO. (2020). A practical guide to recognition: Implementing the Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications Concerning Higher Education. Retrieved from UNESDOC Digital Library.

UNESCO Institute for Staitistics. (2014). ISCED Fields of Education and Training 2013. Retrieved from UNESCO-UIS: http://uis.unesco.org/sites/default/files/documents/isced-fields-of-education-and-training-2013-en.pdf

UNESCO/UNEVOC International Centre for TVET. (2021). TVETipedia Glossary. Retrieved from The UNESCO-UNEVOC International Centre: https://unevoc.unesco.org/home/TVETipedia+Glossary