Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, launched ten Erasmus projects to test new forms of transnational cooperation between higher education institutions, as outlined in the European University Strategy a year ago. This is an important milestone towards the creation of the European Education Area.
The six selected projects will explore, test and promote the award of a label for joint European degrees, which is an additional certificate for the qualification of students graduating from joint programmes in the context of transnational cooperation of different higher education institutions, based on jointly developed European criteria. Four other projects will promote alliances of higher education institutions, such as “European Universities”, to test new forms of cooperation, for example by establishing a possible European legal status for such alliances.
The European Qualifications Label is a step towards the creation of a single European qualification in several EU member states with the aim of promoting student mobility and cooperation. It will reflect the competence and learning outcomes of students participating in joint programmes at multiple institutions and in multiple countries, as well as in different languages, who will benefit from the programme’s mobility opportunities and interdisciplinary teaching approach. . Furthermore, it will complement the qualifications students obtain after graduating from joint programmes in the context of transnational cooperation between different higher education institutions, such as European universities.
This label will be issued on a voluntary basis as a certificate attesting to learning outcomes, achieved in the framework of transnational cooperation between several institutions, and on the basis of a common set of criteria. The selected projects involved in the creation of the European Qualifications Label will be carried out by higher education institutions, national and regional authorities and other stakeholders.
Four of the ten selected projects will promote alliances of higher education institutions to test new forms of cooperation at EU level, e.g. the possible European legal status of such alliances. The aim of this legal status is to give scope for university alliances to act together on a voluntary basis, to make common strategic decisions, to experiment with joint recruitment, to develop joint curricula, or to pool human, technical, data, educational, research and innovation resources and capacities.
Each selected pilot project can receive a budget of up to €200,000 from the Erasmus+ programme for one year, which is expected to start in spring 2023. In cooperation with relevant national, regional or institutional authorities, they will provide evidence for next steps and develop proposals for a possible joint European degree and legal status for partnerships, in agreement with the higher education sector and Member States.
Any future steps will not replace existing national solutions, but aim to provide additional solutions on a voluntary basis to promote deeper transnational cooperation, in full respect of the principles of subsidiarity and institutional autonomy.
The European strategy for universities presented on 18 January 2022 by the European Commission seeks to develop a genuinely European dimension, based on share values, in the higher education sector. Building on this, the Council conclusions on a European strategy empowering higher education institutions for the future of Europe, adopted on 5 April 2022, invites Member States and the Commission, to support alliances of higher education institutions, such as the ‘European Universities’:
- To explore common criteria that could lead to a potential European label for joint programmes. Later on, the possible design and delivery, on a voluntary basis, at national, regional or institutional level, of joint degrees at all levels, based on these co-created European criteria, could be envisaged, in accordance with the existing instruments of the Bologna Process; and
- To take steps to overcome the obstacles to a deeper, long-term and flexible transnational cooperation and design institutionalised cooperation instruments, based on a preliminary thorough assessment of their necessity, benefits and feasibility.
The Council Recommendation on building bridges for effective European higher education cooperation, adopted by the Council on 5 April 2022, recommends that Member States examine and facilitate the delivery of a joint European Degree label to make it easier for higher education institutions engaged in transnational cooperation to provide joint programmes and award joint degrees, and to examine the need for and feasibility of institutionalised cooperation instruments, such as a possible legal status for alliances of higher education institutions.
This open and competitive call for proposals for European policy experimentation in higher education responds to this invitation and has a total budget of EUR 2 million. The call opened on 15 June 2022 and the deadline for applications’ submission was 6 October 2022. An online information session for applicants took place on 28 June 2022.
Source: European Commission