European Education Quality
Education Quality Accreditation Commission
EUROPEAN RECOGNITION OF EDUCATION
Politicians at European level have recognised that education quality and accreditation are essential to the development and success of today's knowledge society and economy. The EU's strategy emphasises countries working together and learning from each other to improve education quality. Knowledge, and the innovation it sparks, are the EU's most valuable assets, particularly as global competition becomes more intense in all sectors.
European Higher Education Area (EHEA)
The Bologna Process, launched with the Bologna Declaration of 1999, is one of the main voluntary processes at European level, as it is nowadays implemented in 49 States, which define the European Higher Education Area (EHEA).
The main objectives of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) are promoting the mobility of students and staff, and the employability of graduates across Europe and EHEA members. In order to achieve this goal the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) agree to adopt:
- A common system of easily readable and comparable diplomas;
- A framework based mainly on three main cycles: bachelor, master, doctorate.
- A common quality assurance
The European Higher Education Area (EHEA) is not a legislative body and does not provide recognition to educational institutions. It does not aim to standardize national higher education systems, but to provide voluntary directives and guidelines to make higher education systems more readable and to build mutual trust between different higher education institutions, regions and countries. The mutual recognition of diplomas is based, not on the comparison of the content of the programs, but on the definition and validation of the targeted learning outcomes.
The ECTS credits, Diploma Supplement and European Qualifications Framework (EQF) are the main tools to achieve the goals set by the European Higher Education Area (EHEA).
The European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) was established as an organization to represent quality assurance and accreditation organizations from the European Higher Education Area and to monitor the compliance with the established tools: ECTS credits, Diploma Supplement and European Qualifications Framework (EQF). ENQA is responsible for defining the standards and guidelines, which are broken down into 3 chapters:
- Internal quality assurance in institutions: each institution must have a policy and an internal organization of self-assessment and continuous improvement, implemented with all its stakeholders (students, staff, former graduates and representatives of society and employers).
- External quality assurance: institutions must submit their organization and results to external and independent evaluations (including accreditation agencies).
- Quality assurance of accreditation agencies: the agencies must act in full autonomy (in particular from public or private powers) to evaluate the institutions and their training, and to bring the results to the attention of the public.
The Education Quality Accreditation Commission accreditation standards take into consideration the guidelines and tools established by the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). See more...
European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System
A credit system is a systematic way of describing an educational program by attaching credits to each of its components, based on learning outcomes. European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) makes study programs easier to read and compare for all students, local and foreign and as such, it facilitates mobility and academic recognition.
The ECTS convention is that 60 credits measure the workload of a full-time student during one academic year. The student workload of a full-time study program in Europe amounts in most cases to 36 or 40 weeks per year and in those cases one credit is assigned to 25 to 30 working hours (1 ECTS credit = 25 to 30 working hours). Workload refers to the notional time an average learner might expect to complete the required learning outcomes. See more...
A ‘first cycle’ (or bachelor's) degree consists of either 180 or 240 ECTS credits and a ‘second cycle’ (or master's) degree equates to 90 or 120 ECTS credits. The use of the ECTS at the ‘third cycle’, or Ph.D. level, varies. ECTS enhances the flexibility of study programs for students. See more...
ECTS credits versus US Semester Credits.
Usually, the conversion rate from ECTS credits to American semester credits is 2:1, meaning 60 ECTS credits would convert into 30 American semester credits. However, this conversion rate varies, as some universities in the U.S. may use different credit systems (p.e. quarter credits). The main distinction between the European Credit System ECTS and the College Credit System in the United States is that the former is based on student workload (25 to 30 hours) while the latter is based on contact hours (15 hours). The ECTS is based on the amount of time it takes for a student to achieve the desired study goals. While the American system is based on the amount of time it takes for a professor to teach.
The EQAC, Education Quality Accreditation Commission, may provide a degree validation diploma that will display the credits earned at a given institution and the total equivalency of those credits in terms of ECTS credits and USA Semester credits. See more…
The Diploma Supplement is a document which provides information that makes it easier for employers and education institutions to understand your qualification. The certificate or diploma issued by the educational institution bears too little information to assess the validity and academic recognition of the education accomplished. The Diploma is designed mostly for decoration purposes. The Diploma Supplement is designed to provide all the information that does not fir the actual certificate and that will allow the correct assessment and recognition of the curriculum learning outcomes.
The Diploma Supplement is produced by higher education institutions according to standards agreed by the Commission, the Council of Europe and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It is also part of the Europass framework transparency tools. The Diploma Supplement is designed as an aid to support the recognition of academic qualifications. It becomes an important tool of the European Higher Education Area for graduates to ensure that their degrees are recognized by higher education institutions, public authorities and employers in their home countries and abroad. It does, however, not represent a Curriculum Vitae or a substitute for the original qualification.
The Diploma Supplement contains several sections providing information regarding:
- Holder: Student name, date of birth and ID number.
- Qualification type: Degree, certification and specialization.
- Qualification requirements: Duration (start and end dates), and access requirements.
- ECTS Credits: Qualification's total hours of study. ECTS equivalent based on 25 or 30 hours of study.
- ECTS Credit composition: How each ECTS hours are achieved. P.e.: 10 h. classes + 10 h. home work + 10 h. lab. practicum.
- EQF Level: European Qualifications Framework level of the qualification.
- Institution: Institution name, country and address.
- Legal status of the Institution: Official, non formal, private, public, etc...
- National higher education system applicable and/or accreditation or endorsements.
- Courses / subjects list: Courses / subjects names, start and end dates, ECTS credits earned, grade achieved.
- Courses / subjects description, learning outcomes and EQF level.
- Grades and evaluation system used, referred to percentage and stating the minimum passing grade.
- Seal of the institution, date and signature of the director or authorized person.
- Other relevant details: Professional practices, research, honors, awards.
The Diploma Supplement should be issued by the Higher Education institution providing the teaching.
European Qualifications Framework
The European Qualifications Framework (EQF) acts as a translation device to make national qualifications more readable across Europe, promoting workers' and learners' mobility between countries and facilitating their lifelong learning. The EQF aims to relate different countries' national qualifications systems to a common European reference framework. Individuals and employers will be able to use the EQF to better understand and compare the qualifications levels of different countries and different education and training systems. Since 2012, all new qualifications issued in Europe carry a reference to an appropriate EQF level.
The core of the EQF concerns eight reference levels describing what a learner knows, understands and is able to do – 'learning outcomes'. Levels of national qualifications will be placed at one of the central reference levels, ranging from basic (Level 1) to advanced (Level 8). This will enable a much easier comparison between national qualifications and should also mean that people do not have to repeat their learning if they move to another country.
The EQF learning outcomes are defined in terms of:
- Knowledge: in the context of EQF, knowledge is described as theoretical and/or factual.
- Skills: In the context of EQF, skills are described as cognitive (involving the use of logical, intuitive and creative thinking) and practical (involving manual dexterity and the use of methods, materials, tools and instruments).
- Responsibility and autonomy: In the context of the EQF responsibility and autonomy is described as the ability of the learner to apply knowledge and skills autonomously and with responsibility.
The EQF applies to all types of education, training and qualifications, from school education to academic, professional and vocational. This approach shifts the focus from the traditional system which emphasizes 'learning inputs', such as the length of a learning experience, or type of institution. It also encourages lifelong learning by promoting the validation of non-formal and informal learning.
EQF 1: Basic and General Education
Basic and general knowledge required to carry out simple tasks. Work or study conducted under direct supervision in a structured context.
EQF 2: Secondary / Technical Education
Basic factual knowledge of a field of work or study. Cognitive and practical skills are required to use relevant information in order to carry out tasks and to solve routine problems using simple rules and tools. Work or study conducted under supervision with some autonomy.
EQF 3: Higher Education / Technical Certification
Knowledge of facts, principles, processes and concepts in a field of work or study. A range of cognitive and practical skills are required to accomplish tasks and solve problems by selecting and applying methods, tools, materials and information. Responsibility is taken for completion of tasks in work or study, and to adapt behavior to circumstances in solving problems.
EQF 4: Higher Education / Technical Diploma
Factual and theoretical knowledge in broad contexts within a field of work or study. A range of cognitive and practical skills are required to generate solutions to specific problems in a field of work or study. Exercising self-management within the guidelines of work or study contexts that are usually predictable, but are subject to change; supervise the routine work of others, taking some responsibility for the evaluation and improvement of work or study activities.
EQF 5: Higher Education / Graduate Degree
Comprehensive, specialized, factual and theoretical knowledge within a field of work or study and an awareness of the boundaries of that knowledge. A comprehensive range of cognitive and practical skills are required to develop creative solutions to abstract problems. Exercising management and supervision in contexts of work or study activities where there is unpredictable change; review and develop performance of self and others.
EQF 6: Post-Graduate Education Degree
Advanced knowledge of a field of work or study, involving a critical understanding of theories and principle. Advanced skills, demonstrating mastery and innovation, are required to solve complex and unpredictable problems in a specialized field of work or study. Managing complex technical or professional activities or projects, taking responsibility for decision-making in unpredictable work or study contexts; take responsibility for managing professional development of individuals and groups.
EQF 7: Master’s Degree / Pre-Doctorate Research
Highly specialized knowledge, some of which is at the forefront of knowledge in a field of work or study, as the basis for original thinking and/or research. Development Critical awareness of knowledge issues in a field and at the interface between different fields. Specialized problem-solving skills are required in research and/or innovation in order to develop new knowledge and procedures and to integrate knowledge from different fields. Managing and transforming work or study contexts that are complex, unpredictable and require new strategic approaches; take responsibility for contributing to professional knowledge and practice and/or for reviewing the strategic performance of teams.
EQF 8: Doctor’s Degree / Researcher / Professor
Knowledge at the most advanced frontier of a field of work or study and at the interface between fields. The most advanced and specialized skills and techniques, including synthesis and evaluation, are required to solve critical problems in research and/or innovation and to extend and redefine existing knowledge or professional practice. Demonstrates substantial authority, innovation, autonomy, scholarly and professional integrity and sustained commitment to the development of new ideas or processes at the forefront of work or study contexts including research.
Lifelong learning education in E.U.
High quality pre-primary, primary, secondary, higher and vocational education and training are the fundament for Europe's success. Lifelong learning education quality must become a reality across Europe. It is key to growth and jobs, as well as to allow everyone the chance to participate fully in society.
The new strategic framework identifies four long term strategic objectives:
- Making lifelong learning education quality and mobility a reality;
- Improving the quality and efficiency of education and training;
- Promoting equity, social cohesion and active citizenship;
- Enhancing creativity and innovation, including entrepreneurship, at all levels of education and training.
Based on these 4 strategic objectives, the Education Quality Accreditation Commission has developed a number of instruments to support students, learning providers, companies, guidance counsellors and educational authorities and allow them to fully exploit the potential of the education quality and accreditation in a global and transnational world. See more...
Recognition of Diplomas in the European Union
Recognition of titles is an important instrument to facilitate the free movement of students and of graduates in Europe. In order better to understand the Union rules on the recognition of diplomas, a distinction must first be made between recognition for academic purposes (i.e. : you would like your title to be recognized because you wish to continue your studies) and recognition for professional purposes (i.e. : you would like your title to be recognized because you wish to work in a certain profession). See more...
There are not European provisions imposing recognition of diplomas (except for certain regulated occupations). That is why there are currently no diplomas that are recognized at European level for academic purposes. Universities, which are autonomous institutions, are entirely responsible for the content of their curricula and for awarding diplomas and certificates to students. The diplomas and certificates are recognized by the authorities of the Member State concerned. However, the European Commission has encouraged mutual recognition (for academic purposes) between the various education systems in Europe. ECTS credits become the best tool to facilitate academic recognition. See more...
In regards to recognition for professional purposes, it is important to distinguish between professions that are regulated from the standpoint of qualifications and non-regulated professions. A profession is said to be regulated when it is a statutory requirement to hold a diploma or other occupational qualification in order to pursue the profession in question. In that case, the lack of the necessary national diploma constitutes a legal obstacle to access to the profession.
It is also important to note that the EU Directives did not set up a system of automatic equivalence between diplomas. There is no such thing as a list of diplomas that are automatically recognized at European level, since a diploma is not recognized for its intrinsic value but according to the profession to which it gives access in the country which awarded it. It is for the person concerned to submit an individual application specifying clearly which occupation they wish to pursue.
If the profession you wish to pursue is not regulated, you are subject to the rules of the labor market and the behavior of that market and not to any legal constraints with regard to your diploma. In that case, the system of recognition provided for by the EU Directives referred to above is not applicable. However, even if the said Directives are not applicable, you still have certain rights as regards the recognition of your diploma. The authorities of the host country are in any event obliged, under the Articles on freedom of movement of the EC Treaty, to take account of your professional diplomas and qualifications acquired in another Member State.
The Education Quality Accreditation Commission degree validation diploma constitutes an effective tool to demonstrate the quality and veracity of the training and certification acquired but it can not guarantee automatic recognition by any receiving institution or company. See more...