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On 9 January 2024, the European Commission published a call for evidence to collect feedback on a so-called European higher education package 2024, consisting of a Communication on a joint European degree and two Council recommendations on sustainable and attractive careers in higher education and a European Quality Assurance and Recognition System (for more details, see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, October 2023). The deadline for contributions is 6 February 2024.
This initiative will contribute to achieving a European Education Area. It is a key flagship of the European strategy for universities and of the Council Recommendation on building bridges for effective European higher education cooperation, both adopted in 2022.
This initiative presents the objectives and avenues to set-up a joint European degree to be delivered at national, regional or institutional level. The degree will attest learning outcomes as part of a joint programme among several institutions across Europe. The degree could be offered by alliances of higher education institutions, for example the European Universities, based on a common set of European criteria. It will offer embedded and seamless mobility opportunities and empower students to choose what and where to study, responding to labour market needs. It will also raise the profile of all European education systems for attracting talent from third countries.
The work on the joint European degree is linked with two specific questions in the area of quality assurance and in respect of the attractiveness of academic careers.
A fit-for-purpose European Quality Assurance and Recognition System would allow for quicker delivery of high-quality learning provisions, reliable and transparent learning assessments, enabling and valorising innovative pedagogical offers and facilitating deeper transnational cooperation. It aims to ensure that higher education institutions can be more quickly responsive to the needs of the labour market and society, by adapting or creating new transnational educational activities, with quality assurance and that are automatically recognised across the EU. This could be done for instance by enabling a shift towards multi-institutional external quality assurance and improved links between recognition and quality assurance.
Better valorisation and recognition in career development and promotion of academic staff engaged in deep transnational educational cooperation will strengthen the European dimension of higher education and take transnational cooperation to the next level, for instance by creating joint transnational programmes leading to a joint European degree - including in the context of European Universities alliances. The initiative is complementary to the research careers framework in supporting academic staff, and promoting diverse, attractive and sustainable careers.
Considering both their importance and urgency, these topics have been discussed in depth at ACA What’s New in Brussels last week, with a broader group of stakeholders and representatives of higher education institutions (for more details, see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, January 2024). ACA members will also exchange and share common experiences and lessons learnt in a national context in order to support the EU policy co-creation process.