Participation in higher education has been rising in recent years, partly in response to the labour market’s need for workers with graduate-level skills and competences. This need has evolved rapidly in the context of globalisation and, in particular, the challenges posed by climate change and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Employability and qualifications are thus a key concern for students, graduates, employers and society at large. They have become major policy considerations for universities which, while located in national or regional systems, produce graduates who wish to be employable across borders.
EUA is active in this field and facilitates good practice exchange among its members. The Association also contributes to the development of European policies and instruments in this area through participation in the European Qualifications Framework Advisory Group and the Europass Advisory Group organised by the European Commission. EUA monitors and shares expertise on the recognition of professional qualifications and launched a Learning & Teaching Thematic Peer Group on “Meeting skills and employability demands”.
Furthermore, EUA participates actively in the current discussions related to the development of micro-credentials and the European policy response. Micro-credentials, as small and flexible units of education, have the potential to support learners to gain new knowledge and competences, to grow professionally, and to advance in their career paths. EUA is a member of the European Commission’s micro-credentials consultation group and a partner in the Microbol project which aims to examine whether and how the existing Bologna tools can be used for or adapted to micro-credentials.
Complementary to the European Higher Education Area and the Bologna Process, which develop and maintain a shared understanding of comparable degrees and protocols for academic recognition and quality assurance, the European Union has designed its own instruments to facilitate the mobility of people and to maintain the competitiveness of its Internal Market. The European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning covers the recognition of academic and professional qualifications. Others are Europass and the European Skills/Competences, Qualifications and Occupations (ESCO) taxonomy.
EUA is a member of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) Advisory Group, which brings together representatives from member states and stakeholder organisations. The EQF is a “meta-framework”, providing shared reference points for EU member state qualifications frameworks. In doing so, it establishes equivalences and enables the translation of a qualification from one system to another.
EUA has been in dialogue with the European Commission and European Parliament since 2007 when the Directive on Recognition of Professional Qualifications came into force. While higher education is the sole competence of individual member states, the European Commission is empowered by EU legislation to oversee the recognition of professional qualifications in the framework of the Internal Market. EUA has continually monitored in detail the developments relating to:
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