Ontario Qualifications Framework (OQF)

What is the Ontario Qualifications Framework?

The Government of Ontario believes that it is important to have a single qualifications framework to provide students, parents, employers and others involved in the postsecondary education system with information on the various options and avenues of study. The development of the Ontario Qualifications Framework is a very important initiative within Ontario's strategy to improve the quality, accessibility and accountability of its postsecondary education system.

The Ontario Qualifications Framework (OQF) includes all postsecondary certificate, diploma and degree programs offered under the auspices of the Province of Ontario, including apprenticeship certificates, the qualifications to be phased in for private career colleges, the qualifications awarded by public colleges of applied arts and technology, and degrees offered by public universities and institutions authorized to award degrees by a ministerial consent.

The OQF identifies the main purposes of each qualification, outlines the learning expectations for graduates who hold each type of qualification and shows the relationship between the different qualifications. Each qualification can be seen as a benchmark or reference point along a continuum. The OQF will be updated periodically to include new qualifications as they are established.

The OQF describes generic learning expectations. Each specific program (e.g., business administration, electrician, psychology) also needs to meet particular content requirements — the bodies of knowledge, skills and competency levels appropriate to a particular discipline or field of study.

How can the Ontario Qualifications Framework be used?

The OQF is intended for use by all participants in the postsecondary education and training system. These include current and potential students, parents, academic advisors and student counsellors, program designers and assessors, admissions officers and registrars, academic departments, employers, professional bodies and governments. The particular use will vary from one group to another. The following are among the expected uses:

Consumer information

The OQF maps the overall structure of postsecondary qualifications in Ontario, outlines the standards or expectations that each is designed to meet and describes how the qualifications compare to one another.

Facilitating lifelong learning

The OQF provides information that will help Ontarians identify the opportunities available for lifelong learning.

Informing employers

The OQF will assist employers in determining the fit between their needs and what can be expected of certificate, diploma and degree holders. The framework also provides a context for employer feedback on the adequacy or appropriateness of the standards where the qualifications are intended to lead to employment.

Designing new programs and qualifications

The OQF sets out clear guidelines for the design of new programs and provides the continuum of learning expectations along which any new qualifications can be placed.

Quality assurance

The OQF sets standards that can be taken into account when assessing the performance of programs and graduates. The framework promotes ongoing consideration of how well program expectations are being met, encourages educational institutions or organizations to adopt quality assurance mechanisms and enhances the credibility of the qualifications assessed against the framework.

Credit transfer/recognition of credentials/qualifications

The OQF provides a context for policies on credit transfer and credential/qualification recognition that facilitate lifelong learning by recognizing the learning expectations of qualifications and the transferability of knowledge and skills for the purposes of continuous learning.

International recognition and marketing

The OQF, which is based on internationally recognized descriptors, will assist institutions, individuals and governments in comparing Ontario's standards with those in other jurisdictions, whether for purposes of study in Canada by those from other countries, study abroad by Canadians or the export of Canadian programs to other jurisdictions.

How is the Ontario Qualifications Framework organized?

The "Qualification Descriptions" section of the framework describes the purposes, typical length, admission requirements, providers and the qualifications awarded for the five types of certificates, the three types of diplomas, the post-diploma qualification and the four types of degrees offered in Ontario.

The "Qualification Standards" section describes each qualification in terms of categories of "descriptors" that are commonly used by the international community. These categories are:

  1. Depth and breadth of knowledge
  2. Conceptual and methodological awareness/research
  3. Communication skills
  4. Application of knowledge
  5. Professional capacity/autonomy
  6. Awareness of limits of knowledge

The standards in each descriptor category clearly indicate the differences in the competencies that the holders of each qualification are expected to be able to demonstrate. All qualification holders should be able to demonstrate the capacity for autonomous decision making and action that is appropriate to the body of knowledge and skills they have mastered.