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Higher Education in Malaysia  →  Malaysian Qualification Framework (MQF)

Malaysian Qualification Framework (MQF)

Malaysian Qualification Framework (MQF)

The Malaysian Qualifications Act 2007 provides for the establishment of the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) whose main role is to implement the Malaysian Qualifications Framework (MQF).

MQF is an instrument that develops and classifies qualifications based on a set of criteria that is agreed nationally and benchmarked with international practices, and which clarifies the academic levels, learning outcomes and credit system based on student academic load. These criteria are accepted and used for all qualifications awarded by higher education providers. Hence, MQF integrates and links all national qualifications offered by both public and private educational institutions such as colleges, universities, vocational institutions and professional organizations.

MQF also provides education pathways through which it links qualifications systematically. This will enable the individual to progress in higher education through the transfer of credits and recognition of prior learning acquired from formal, non-formal and informal learning in the context of lifelong learning.

MQF is benchmarked against other main qualifications frameworks worldwide such as those of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. The European Qualifications Framework is now the umbrella framework for European Union countries, and is accepted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at the Lisbon Convention, which includes signatories from Europe, Canada, the United States, Israel, Australia and New Zealand. Therefore, MQF facilitates communication with the various frameworks and higher education systems of major countries worldwide. It is also able to manage the increasing complexity of education and training systems to forge collaboration in cross border education.


Definition of a Higher Education Provider
A Higher Education Provider refers to a corporate body/ organization or other establishment of persons which conducts higher education or training programmes including skills training programmes leading to the award of a higher qualification or a higher education qualification. It includes public or private higher education providers, examination or certification bodies or their representatives.
Definition of Qualifications
Qualifications are certificates, diplomas or degrees that are awarded by any competent authority, having affirmed that one has been successful in completing the study at the determined standard, and has satisfied the determined level of achievement and is able to take on a role, duty or work. Qualifications indicate positive achievement of learning outcomes, not as compensation as a result of failure or coincidence.
Qualification Awarding Sectors
MQF contains post secondary national qualifications, which are conferred in the skills, vocational and technical, academic and professional sectors. Honorary degrees and certificates of attendance are not included in the MQF. Honorary doctorates are distinguished from doctoral degrees in the MQF.
Levels of Qualifications
MQF has eights levels, namely Certificate Levels 1 to 3, Diploma, Advanced Diploma, Bachelor's degree, Master's degree and Doctoral degree. The levels of qualifications are described and differentiated in Appendix 1 and summarized in Appendix 2. The qualifications at each level are described with generic features, which signify the expected capabilities from students in term of:
the depth, complexity and comprehension of knowledge;
the application of knowledge and skills;
the degree of autonomy and creativity in decision making;
communication skills; and
the breadth and sophistication of practices
Learning Outcomes
Learning outcomes are statements that explain what students should know, understand and can do upon the completion of a period of study. Learning outcomes are references for standard and quality as well as for the development of curriculum in terms of teaching and learning, the determination of credits and the assessment of students. In MQF, learning outcomes are asserted in three categories:
levels of qualification;
fields of study; and


Learning Outcome Domains from National Accreditation Board :



Knowledge of Discipline Areas



Values, Attitudes & Professionalism


Communication, Leadership and Team Skills


Problem Solving & Scientific Skills


Managerial and Entrepreneurial Skills


Information Management and Lifelong Learning Skills


Practical Skills



Social Skills & Responsibilities


MQF emphasizes on eight domains of learning outcomes for Malaysian:

1 Knowledge of discipline areas Being able to master and understand concepts and theories
2 Practical skills Applying concepts and theories and carrying out a professional task effectively, ethically and safely
3 Social skills and responsibilities acquiring attributes that enable one to deal with people and organizations efficiently good conduct in an appropriate and civil manner identifying social issues and responding effectively
4 Value, attitudes and professionalism projecting respect for self and others having the capacity to show sympathy and empathy having the capacity for tolerance practicing good time management
5 Communication, leadership and team skills having the ability to write, speak and listen effectively being responsible and having the vision to lead in carrying out tasks being able to work independently or in teams possessing multicultural and multiracial competencies
6 Problem solving and scientific skills projecting critical and lateral thinking and logical reasoning producing new ideas based on existing knowledge and skills
7 Information management and lifelong learning skills using ICT at location and evaluation of information critically and responsibly learning how to learn adopting a continuous professional development approach
8 Managerial and entrepreneurial skills planning and implementing effectively making judgments and decisions having vision and direction in professional development

Credit System: Credit and Academic Load
Credit is the quantitative measure that represents the volume of learning or academic load.
Academic load is a quantitative measure of all learning activities required to achieve a defined set of learning outcomes. These activities include lecture, tutorial, seminar, practical, self-study, retrieval of information, research, fieldwork, as well as preparing for and sitting of an examination. In Malaysia, 40 hours of notional student learning time is valued as one credit.

By implementing a credit system, the uniformity in meaning and the understanding of the framework in Malaysia will facilitate parallel comparisons with foreign qualifications. This will assist the mobility of students, support the development of curriculum at the international level and simplify recognition.

Achievement of stipulated minimum credits of a programme is a requirement before an academic qualification e.g. certificate, diploma bachelor degree can be awarded.

Malaysian Qualifications Framework (MQF): Proposed Minimum Credit

MQF Levels Qualifications Minimum Credit
8 Doctoral No given credit value
7 Research Masters No given credit value
Fully or Partly Taught Masters 40
Postgraduate Diploma 30
Postgraduate Certificate 20
6 Bachelors 120
Graduate Diploma  60
Graduate Certificate 30
5 Advanced Diploma 40
4 Diploma 90
1-3 Certificate 60
Skills Certificate According to skills

MQF Levels Qualifications Description
8 Doctoral Degree

A Doctoral degree provides for the further enhancement of knowledge, skills and abilities obtained at the Master's level. It generally provides the graduate with the abilities to conduct independent research.
7 Master's Degree

A Master's degree provides for the furtherance of knowledge, skills and abilities obtained at the Bachelor's level. The entrance to a master's programme is usually based on proven capabilities to pursue postgraduate studies in the selected fields.
6 Bachelor's Degree

A Bachelor's degree prepares students for general employment, entry into postgraduate programmes and research as well as highly skilled careers. It enables the individuals to pair knowledge with responsibilities, which require great autonomy in professional decision-making.

5 Advanced Diploma

Advanced diploma is a specific qualification, which identifies an individual who has knowledge, practical skills, managerial abilities and more complex and higher responsibilities than those expected at the diploma level.

4 Diploma Level

Skills, Higher Education, Vocational and Technical

Higher Education, Vocational, Technical and Skills Diploma encompass capabilities and responsibilities that are wide-ranging and will at the end, lead to a career. The employment is in various fields including business and management; social services; healthcare; sports and recreation; information technology; communication arts and design; engineering; building construction; science and technology; hospitality and tourism; realty management; agriculture; and forestry. Diploma level education balances theory and practice or practical, and stresses on the instillation of values, ethics and attitudes.

1-3 Certificate Levels

Skills 1 -3, Higher Education, Vocational and Technical The Skills Certificate is conferred as a formal recognition to an individual who has shown the capabilities that hove been acquired; or has practical competency in conducting a specific task or type of work (usually "manual" skills). It is conferred without considering the ways in which the skills are acquired. The skills, often acquired cumulatively through stages of training and qualifications are usually recognized by competent authorities or industries.

The criteria and standards for these skills certificates are found in the National Occupational Skills Standards (NOSS), developed by the Department of Skills Development under the auspices of the Ministry of Human Resources. The criteria and standards of skills certificates are articulated to higher level qualifications and enables certificate holders to progress from semi-skilled to skilled, right up to supervisory, executive and managerial phases.

The Vocational and Technical Certificate prepare students for specific technical tasks and is the beginning of further training in the selected field. Normally, the programme is based on in situ training at the training institutions and contains at least 25% vocational / technical contents.

Foundation or University Preparatory Course Foundation Courses or University Preparatory Courses such as Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM), Matriculation and Foundation Certificates are not in the MQF as they are entry qualification to universities. Nonetheless, MQF determines standards for these certificates to ensure comparability and standardization of student abilities.


MQF has eight levels of qualifications in three sectors of education and supports lifelong learning.

The three sectors of education are the:

1 Skills sector 2 Vocational and technical sector 3 Higher education (university) sector

A lifelong learning in the Three Higher Education Sectors through Eight Qualification Levels:

MQF Levels 1 Skills 2 Vocational and Technical 3 Higher Education
8     Doctoral Degree
7     Master's Degree
    Postgraduate Certificate & Diploma
6     Bachelor's Degree (Honors)
    Graduate Certificate & Diploma
5 Advanced Diploma Advanced Diploma  Advanced Diploma
4 Diploma Diploma Diploma
3 Skills Certificate 3 Vocational And Technical Certificate


2 Skills Certificate 2  
1 Skills Certificate 1

Qualifications via Lifelong Education Pathways

MQF provides pathways for individuals to progress in the context of lifelong learning. Three qualifications are created to facilitate this progression.

Advanced Diploma

The Advanced Diploma is a specific qualification which identifies an individual who has knowledge, practical skills, managerial abilities and more complex and higher responsibilities than those expected at the diploma level. An Advanced diploma is conferred on students who are able to:
Use knowledge, comprehension and practical skills at work;
Assess and decide, taking into account social, scientific and ethical issues with autonomy;
Possess knowledge in adapting to ideas, processes and new procedures for career development;
Acquire team and interpersonal skills that are appropriate to employment;
Communicate effectively and to transmit information, ideas, problems and resolutions cogently to experts and non-experts;
Identify problems in their field of study.
Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma
The Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma are qualifications that comprise competencies at the level of a Bachelor's degree. The difference between the Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma is in the credit value. The qualifications are conferred upon the completion of education or formal training, recognition of work experience, inclusive of voluntary work or in combination. The Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma are used for purposes such as entry qualification to higher level with permissible credit transfer. These are conferred, without taking into account the previous qualification / s of the holder and are dependent on the aims of the qualification.

Postgraduate Certificate and Postgraduate Diploma
The Postgraduate Certificate and Postgraduate Diploma are qualifications which contain competencies at least at the level of a Master's degree and is acquired after obtaining a qualification equivalent to that of a Bachelor's degree. A major part of the credits is at the Master's level in the related field of study or continuing skills or specialization. The difference between a Postgraduate Certificate and Postgraduate Diploma is in the credit value. In professional fields, qualifications are usually conferred when the practitioner completes continuing professional education or advanced training which is more professional than academic in nature, and is often known or recognized by their peers. Examples of the use of Postgraduate Certificate and Postgraduate Diploma are as certification for the recognition of a competent practitioner to carry out continuing credentialing procedures in the practiced filed, for entry into a Master's programme or towards obtaining a certain practitioner-status.

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