Better Aligning Credentials Across Degrees

The Bologna Process began in 1998 and has evolved into a collective effort of public authorities, universities, teachers, students, stakeholder associations, employers, quality assurance agencies, international organizations, and other major institutions coming together to standardize learning quality and recognition of qualifications within the three cycle system of the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degree process. Increased understanding surrounding qualifications makes it much easier for students to be prepared for and then find employment across Europe, and simultaneously makes European colleges and universities more competitive and appealing to international students. The EHEA was then launched in 2010 in order to build on the efforts of the Bologna Process and ensure more comparable, compatible and coherent systems of higher education in Europe.

Aiming for Public Responsibility and Employability

Key focus areas for the upcoming decade identified by the Bologna Process and EHEA include equitable access and degree completion, lifelong learning, employability, student-centered learning, research and innovation, international mobility for students and faculty, optimization and improvement of data collection methodologies, and diverse funding models. There are also four key topics that center on becoming more globalized, including: public responsibility for and of higher education within national and regional contexts; global academic mobility; global and regional approaches to quality enhancement of higher education; and the contribution of higher education reforms to enhance graduate employability.

All of these efforts have helped the United States to better understand the credentials of European students, and the increased openness has lead to a major rise in students crossing the Atlantic for college or pursing joint or dual degrees. While higher education faces similar challenges on both continents, this increased collaboration has helped both sides to work together to improve their systems and support a greater number of learners than ever before, notes the report.

A Drive for Global Outreach and Collaboration

Furthermore, other articles in the report provide background and insight on how European Union initiatives are supporting greater outreach to the rest of the world.

One such initiative is Erasmus+, which was founded in 2014 as the EU’s streamlined program to support education and training. The author points out that 2015 is the first time that the program will support mobility and opportunities that extend beyond Europe, which could provide important incentives for greater flows of students and faculty between Europe and other partner counties between now and 2020. Key aspects of the program encourage European higher education institutions to participate in more international exchange/mobility agreements, strategic partnerships, and joint creation of curriculum and degree programs.

(Next page: A European higher education focus on graduate research)

About the Author:

Ronald Bethke


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