01 août 2012

ECVET tool-box

http://www.ecvet-projects.eu/images/BannerToolbox.jpgThe ECVET testing and development website includes a tool-box, which is populated by the different ECVET pilot projects. The tool-box contains different outcomes of the ECVET projects, such as methodologies for description of units of learning outcomes, allocation of ECVET points, examples of memoranda of understanding and learning agreements, descriptions of processes for assessment, validation and recognition in the context of mobility, etc.
The items in the tool-box are organised according to the main technical aspects of ECVET (see the menu). Use these to search the tool-box. The content of the toolbox is updated regularly. You are invited to share your experience and debate about the ECVET tools on the forum.

If you need more information about specific tools, please contact us.  If you wish to submit a document to the tool-box please send an e-mail to contact@ecvet-projects.eu.

This section contains documents written by ECVET pilot projects but also coming from other related sources on methodological approaches to ECVET implementation.
Additional examples will be added soon.
Describing qualifications
Allocation of ECVET points
Designing units of learning outcomes
The roles of ECVET competent institutions

Memorandum of Understanding
Learning Agreement
Quality assurance



Project Final Report

Validation and recognition

Comparing qualifications
Good Practices

This section presents examples of how ECVET technical specifications have been put into practice by the ECVET pilot projects. Aspects of projects work that can be considered as good practice were selected and described. The inclusion of examples of good practice in this section follows the discsussions in projects seminars. This section is progressively updated as projects are finalising their work.
Assessment, validation and Recognition
Description of units of learning outcomes
Project Portraits - Strengths.

Posté par pcassuto à 09:55 - - Permalien [#]

ECVET Magazine n. 9


http://www.ecvet-projects.eu/images/logos/ECVETprojectsLarge.jpgThe ninth issue of the ECVET Magazine is a special edition, entirely dedicated to the outcomes of the final conference of the ECVET pilot projects 2008-2011 that took place in February 2012 in Brussels.
It contains:
    * An editorial by Ute Haller-Block, Head of Unit EAC-EA: Experiencing ECVET – from practice to policy;
    * An article about the outcomes of Day 1 of the conference: 'Shared understanding of ECVET – Diversity of practical solutions';
    * A synoptic article about the pilot projects' results: 'Results of the 2008 ECVET pilot projects';
    * An article about the outcomes of Day 2 of the conference: What are the necessary conditions to further implement ECVET?;
    * An article on 'Learning Outcomes of the FINECVET initiative' that have been introduced at the FINECVET final conference in Helsinki on 15 March 2012; and
    * A series of news items.
Editorial - Ute Haller-Block Head of Unit - Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency
Experiencing ECVET – from practice to policy

The conference on 22 and 23 February 2012 in Brussels marked the end of the first series of pilot projects for ECVET. These eleven projects from the pioneer phase of ECVET started in 2009 and have now finalised their work. Just to remember: at that time the recommendation on ECVET was not even adopted by the Council. These projects therefore had the particular challenge to start working on a tool of which the framework did not yet formally exist. But, of course, a lot of preparatory work had already been done and the proposal for the recommendation including the technical specifications for ECVET had been put forward by the Commission already in April 2008.
A final conference is the occasion to celebrate the successes, but it is also the time to take stock and discuss the policyachievements, the difficulties, the lessons learned and the potential consequences for further policy strategy.
The initial objectives defined in this first call for projects to “test and develop the credit system for vocational education and training (ECVET)” were closely aligned to the agreed basic principles of such a credit system: facilitate mobility by recognising learning outcomes acquired in another country and establish strong partnerships between the responsible awarding bodies.
The partnerships which have been established in the projects have reached for most of them the goal of sustainability and will continue to cooperate after the end of the projects. A strong communal spirit has also been established among the projects with the external monitoring by GHK and the regular seminars, workshops, conferences organised. However, although competent bodies were involved in the projects, the real commitment from the national authorities was still not fully visible. The driving force currently appears to remain at the level of implementing bodies, like VET providers, mobility organisers or international enterprises with concrete needs linked to international exchanges.
Although ECVET has clear general principles, the devil lies – as often - in the details. Projects had to implement the technical specifications with the particular challenge that the different parts of such a system were meant to be “inseparable”, i.e. the description of the qualifications in terms of units of learning outcomes (LO), the learning outcome transfer process (including evaluation, validation, recognition and capitalisation of LO), a method for a point system for LO, the design, implementation and conclusion of partnership agreements.
It is in relation to the “inseparability” that the projects faced the most difficulties. These technical difficulties mirror the differences in VET systems and a certain resistance to change. The observed tendency, to try to fit ECVET to remain in line with the existing VET system and philosophy, has shown to be an obstacle to a holistic implementation of ECVET in the pilot projects. As a conclusion, the pilot projects used ECVET as a toolbox, a kind of “à la carte” menu depending on the particular needs in a sector, in a country, in an organisation. In the end, the 11 projects found different approaches, chose different angles of ECVET but all succeeded in the primary goal to recognise the learning outcomes acquired in different settings.
The results of the pilot projects are therefore of high value for future policy design, particularly in view of the revision of the ECVET recommendation in 2014. The challenges to be mastered to be able to go the way from experimentation to broad implementation are
• To achieve that ECVET is used as a system, not as a toolbox, in order to fully exploit its potential when it comes to recognition and validation of acquired learning outcomes. The clarity in guidelines is particularly important for the future communication on ECVET and its broad implementation;
• To achieve real commitment at national authority level, especially in view of the close link to the EQF;
• To promote the quality assurance processes with the aim to improve mutual trust between the VET systems;
• To examine possible extensions of the concept of ECVET: should it only be limited to learning mobility or can it be extended to lifelong learning in general, such as the recognition of informal and non-formal learning outcomes, as is presently tested in the second wave of pilot projects. The relationship to ECTS is also an issue in this respect;
• Last but not least, to set up adequate support structures for advice and national implementation and discuss suitable funding schemes.
An article by Daniela Ulicná (GHK Consulting). What are the necessary conditions to implement ECVET? Summary of the results of the second day of discussions during the final conference of ECVET pilot projects

The ECVET Recommendation states that as of 2012, Member States should create the necessary conditions to gradually start implementing ECVET. The work the ECVET pilot projects completed in the period 2008-2012 is expected to feed into this process. The testing of ECVET is designed to help Member States and stakeholders identify what these ‘necessary conditions’ are in their specific context.
It is therefore understandable, that the second day of the final conference on the work of the ECVET pilot projects, focused on this more forward looking discussion - after having discussed the specific projects’ outcomes on the first day. Beside the work undertaken by the pilot projects, the reflections on the ‘necessary conditions’ included the system level work conducted by Member States , the work of the ECVET Users’ Group, as well as that of the second generation of pilot projects, focusing more on the national implementation of ECVET.
This article summarises the main issues raised during the conference with an objective to nurture the subsequent discussions and decisions.
Need for clear policy vision for ECVET at system level Several interventions during the conference highlighted the fact that there was already demand for using ECVET. It from the VET providers who are interested in enhancing their international cooperation or from stakeholders who want to see more learner mobility in Europe, or from those who aim to support the recognition of individuals’ prior learning achievements (be it achievements from formal learning or in other learning contexts). However, a clear policy framework is missing and countries have not yet clarified what it means in practice to use ECVET in their system: including the requirements and conditions.
The Cedefop presentation, based on the publication on ECVET Development in Europe 20113, noted that: While many VET systems demonstrate ‘ECVET readiness’, only a few Member States’ representatives believe that their countries will be prepared to start implementation of ECVET soon.
‘ECVET readiness’ means that Member States use learning outcomes, unitisation or modularisation of qualifications and this is complemented by the use of validation procedures. Furthermore, several countries already have credit systems in place or are developing their use in vocational education and training.
Nevertheless, some countries have already made clear commitments to ECVET, for example: Finland, Belgium (French Speaking Community), and Latvia. The vision underpinning the use of ECVET in these countries differs greatly: while for example in Finland, the main driver is the internationalisation of VET and transnational mobility of learners, in Belgium (French Speaking Community), it is mainly about avoiding early school leaving and improving qualification completion.
Others, like France and Malta, in the context of the second generation projects, are analysing the systemic conditions which facilitate or hinder ECVET implementation within their systems.
Until there is more clarity about system-level strategies to work with ECVET, bottom-up initiatives and the work of pilots will not be able to be mainstreamed due to the lack of clear references and ‘ground rules’ within a given system. As shown by the work of the pilot projects (see other articles in this issue), the ECVET Recommendation gives a very generic framework, but this can be interpreted differently, depending on the needs and system-level conditions. Therefore, certain top-down decisions will need to be made to bridge with the bottom-up initiatives.
Emphasis on the quality of transnational mobility experience Ms Alison Crabb from the European Commission, DG Education and Culture, presented the proposal for the future ‘Erasmus for All’ programme that is to replace the current Lifelong Learning Programme together with some other programmes (mainly Youth in Action, but also others). She also emphasised the ambitious benchmark for mobility that was agreed in December 2011. This states that as of 2020, at least 6% of people holding initial VET qualifications (aged 18-34) should have completed at least two weeks of mobility experiences (including work-placements). To echo this ambitious benchmark, the new programme is to fund more student mobility in VET than the current Lifelong Learning programme: the proposed budget could fund the mobility of 735 000 beneficiaries in VET6 (while the figure is going to be below 500 000 for the period 2007-2013).
Next to the numbers of learners, the Commission proposal also states that:
The main criterion for funding [of mobility] will be quality, demonstrated through educational content and teaching and learning methods, recognition of learning outcomes, linguistic and intercultural preparation, and improved arrangements within host organisations.
This emphasis on the quality of mobility, including recognition, creates positive conditions for the implementation and use of ECVET within the new programme. Even though the extent to which this will be explicitly required or not (as it is the case for ECTS or similar credit systems in the Erasmus University Charter), is not yet clear.
Reacting to this presentation, Richard Maniak from the French Ministry of Education, representing the ECVET Team at the conference, noted that one of the dangers of the future programme and the benchmark is that organisations are more likely to focus on numbers (to meet the benchmark) than on the quality. ECVET is most suitable for mobility which is of a longer duration and where learners can acquire a more substantial set of knowledge, skills and competence. Therefore, the new programme should also clearly strengthen mobility which is of longer duration.
Demand for structures that can support VET providers

ECVET is a novelty. Even though some features of ECVET are already present in some VET systems, the international dimension that ECVET brings is new for all. Christian Sperle, from the German Chambers of Crafts and the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, highlighted in his presentation the need for support structures that will accompany VET providers in working with ECVET. This point was echoed in several presentations on the first day in which presenters noted the need for system-specific advice and guidance on how to work with ECVET.
Such support structures are necessary for two reasons:
• On the one hand, they should avoid over-burdening teachers, trainers and assessors. They should explain the most efficient ways of working with ECVET to actors on the ground, so they do not have to reinvent the wheel each time a VET provider starts using ECVET;
• On the other hand, they support a certain minimum homogeneity and quality in the way in which ECVET is used and the concepts are understood. This does not mean promoting only one approach to using ECVET. Instead, it means ensuring that aspects, such as the descriptions of units of learning outcomes, are of good quality or that the learning agreements are clear.
As Peter Thiele from the German Federal Ministry of Education emphasised in the final panel discussion, it is good that there is a diversity of solutions, but we should not forget the core ECVET principles and the need to ensure that these are commonly understood and applied.
The question remains about who could be these advisors and how would they be funded. One solution is the national networks of ECVET experts, coordinated by the Lifelong Learning Programme Agencies that have recently begun to operate.
In some countries, existing structures such as chambers already have the necessary expertise to support VET providers, on topics such as ECVET. Finally, as noted by Thierry Joseph - principal of a French VET school - during the final panel discussion, VET providers may need to support staff (possibly part time) working on mobility issues exclusively. This would be similar, though most likely on a smaller scale, to the role of the international centres/units in higher education institutions.
Finally, Anne Potters, from the Dutch National Agency for the Lifelong Learning Programme, also insisted on the need to communicate with and provide support to those who are to begin using ECVET. In this context she provided information about the work the Lifelong Learning Programme National Agencies are doing jointly in developing a toolbox and common templates to work with ECVET.
Enhancing acceptance of differences

ECVET was designed to support credit transfer and recognition and hence to promote openness of VET systems, programmes and pathways. Openness is about accepting difference, noted Carita Blomqvist from the Finnish National Board of Education, during the final panel discussion. ECVET will only achieve its ultimate goal if the competent authorities as well as VET providers agree to recognise credit; even if the details of learning outcomes or qualifications from abroad are somewhat different. Ms Blomqvist reminded the participants that a valuable concept used in qualification recognition is that of substantial difference: unless there is substantial difference, it should be possible to recognise credit from abroad and that is what ECVET was designed for. ECVET has a number of elements that enable VET providers and competent institutions to ensure the quality of learning outcomes and assessment completed abroad. Therefore, ECVET can be used to individualise learning pathways and give new opportunities to mobile young people and adults.
Erik Hess, Policy Officer at the European Commission, DG Education and Culture, summarised the panel discussion by pointing out three levels to take the implementation process of ECVET forward:
• Stakeholders exploit the results from the ground with a view to feeding them systematically into the community of practice;
• Member states safeguard the institutional and political environment needed for the ECVET implementation; and
• The Commission boosts this work and develops further supportive instruments like guiding notes and templates via the established cooperation with the key players.
See also: ECVET Magazine n. 8, ECVET Magazine n. 7, ECVET Magazine n. 6, ECVET Magazine n. 5, Issue 4, April 2011, Issue 3, January 2011, Issue 2, November 2010, Issue 1, June 2010, Issue 4, April 2010, Issue 3, November 2009, Issue 2, July 2009, Issue 1, April 2009.

Posté par pcassuto à 09:34 - - Permalien [#]

Validation of non-formal and informal learning

http://www.eucis-lll.eu/pages/images/stories/publications/cover.pngEUCIS-LLL’s “LLL Mag” on Validation of non-formal and informal learning
The first item of the LLL Mag has been released. The Magazine should be published twice a year and tackle hot topics of the moment in the field of lifelong learning. The first edition encompasses many complex processes and the magazine gives an idea of the diversity of learning settings in Europe. After the public hearing EUCIS-LLL organised in December 2011 on validation, the magazine aims at providing key data, examples of countries’ profiles, interviews of experts and learners to give an insight of the recent European developments. Download the publication.
What’s the current situation in Europe?

The validation of non-formal and informal learning (VNFIL) is a fashionable topic attracting interests of stakeholders from different sectors of education and training. At the EU level, several initiatives have been taken in order to push forward the process of validation and build pathways between non-formal, informal and formal learning. Common European principles and guidelines have been established, peer learning and exchange of good practice have been promoted through a regularly updated inventory of policy and practice across Europe and through the provision of financial support for projects from EU lifelong learning and youth programmes. The Europe 2020 strategy explicitly calls for ‘the promotion of the recognition of non-formal and informal learning’ under its Youth on the Move flagship initiative. In this sense, by the beginning of 2012 the European Commission should launch a communication on this topic.
VNFIL is recognised as an important tool in the context of the current economic crisis as well as in the pursuit of economic and social goals at European level. However, in Europe VNFIL is organised differently across member states and consequently there are enormous differences within its development and implementation among European countries. In general, we can distinguish three groups of countries:
• The ones that have put in place national systems making validation an integral part of their education and training and employment policies (i.e. France, Portugal); when this is the case it is seen as another nationally endorsed route to recognition of learning outcomes and possibly to certification.
• The ones that have introduced validation partially, putting in place legal and institutional frameworks for future development in sub-sectors of education and training or in the employment sector;
• And a third group of countries where validation remains low on the political agenda and an overall strategy is lacking and there are few concrete initiatives.
This classification has been further extended in the 2010 CEDEFOP inventory to four categories (see table below).
However, it is important to keep in mind that this categorisation provides only an overall assessment, because the situation on validation is multi-faceted, with different degrees of process and development in different sectors. Moreover, each country applies its own strategy. Sometimes we can observe a centralised approach, which leads to the implementation at national level, whereas some counties do not have any national or regional strategies and evidence ‘bottom-up’ approaches where local educational institutions and workplace initiatives have been developed. There are also different ministries, institutions and bodies responsible for the implementation, control and award of validation. For individuals, outcomes of validation are crucial. In some countries, an applicant can obtain a full diploma whereas in a majority of countries, an applicant can only benefit from access to education or from credit exemptions. To understand better the process of VNFIL and differences within the European Union, we prepared a short description of validation in four European countries.

Is validation progressing in Europe? Michel Feutrie, EUCEN and Secretary General of EUCIS-LLL

Michel Feutrie was Professor in Sociology of Education at the Université des Sciences et Technologies of Lille. He is the former President of EUCEN, the European Association for University Lifelong Learning. He is currently Secretary General of EUCIS-LLL. From 1987 to 2007, he was Vice President of USTL in charge of continuing education and Director of the Continuing Service from 1986 to 2006. He has been appointed from 2002 to 2006 Rapporteur Général of the French Agency in charge of the French National Qualification Framework and of the national “Répertoire” (RNCP) registering all French qualifications.
Is validation of non-formal and informal learning considered to be important for lifelong learning strategies? Which role does it play?

Validation of non-formal and informal learning has been linked to lifelong learning (LLL) strategies in European Commission policy documents since the publication of the Memorandum on LLL and the Communication that followed in 2001. The Commission decided then to initiate an exchange of experience and good practice in the field of identification, assessment and recognition of non-formal and informal learning. It established an inventory of methodologies, systems and standards and encouraged Member States to provide legal frameworks and educational institutions to systematically implement measures. This orientation led to concrete initiatives: adoption of Common principles in 2004, publication of European guidelines in 2009, of 3 inventories (2005, 2007 and 2010), key element of the Adult Education plan adopted in 2007 and of the Education and Training 2020 Strategic Framework in 2009.
But more generally, as we are living now in a world offering more and more opportunities for valuable learning not only in educational institutions but in a variety of settings, it is evident that the question of recognition of informal and non-formal learning becomes essential in a lifelong and life-wide learning perspective. For individuals it contributes to the development of positive personal and professional pathways, and helps them to progress vertically and horizontally within education and training systems.
How can non-formal and informal outcomes be valued in the formal educational system and in the labour market?

What we learn informally and non-formally (as well as what we learn formally) has to be described in terms of “learning outcomes”. By this way we create a sort of common currency to make possible their description against official standards and then their recognition in the formal system or the labour market. Therefore, it is necessary to be able to present what we have learnt nonformally or informally in a readable and understandable way for assessors or recruiters. This obliges individuals to identify what they have learnt, to organise their learning outcomes in a way that suits the standards of the relevant qualifications and to present them in a way which meets the requirements of assessors. This in itself is a learning process, and must follow the rhythm of each individual. It is a new and so far unusual practise, and it must be guided by advisors able to adopt a new kind of attitude.
How can we assess someone’s learning outcomes? Which methods would you suggest?

make candidates aware of what they have learntThe experience of an individual is comprehensive and cannot be seen through the prism of disciplines or traditional programmes. Learning outcomes from professional and personal activities are not immediately available for assessment. In addition, experience is contextualised, and contexts do not provide equal opportunities, which is particularly difficult for assessors or academic juries. Two main approaches are currently orienting the assessors’ work: one is based on what we could call a “weighing principle”, whereby the individual’s experience is weighed up against standards and references of the qualification; whilst the other is based on a “developmental principle” that takes into account experience as a whole. The first focuses on formal results (“prior learning”) and is more or less related to programmes while the second tries to and the milestones they have passed, to situate them on a route, and to develop a holistic approach (“experiential learning”). The European guidelines for validation published in 2009 identify: dossier, portfolio, observation, simulation, interviews, exams, etc. All these assessment methods are not equivalent, are not giving the same chances to candidates, are not likely to make possible a relevant expression of what people have really learnt, are not producing the same results.
How to ensure quality assurance in strengthening the trust to validation?

Validation is a process implying the whole life of an individual. The assessors are not evaluating the result of an exam, but the results of an individual experience with positive and not so positive effects. This can be seen as a judgment. While encouraging Member States to install validation procedures, the European Commission invited governments to adopt Common Principles aiming at the protection of the individual in 2004.
What are the main remaining challenges ahead on validation?

The results of the consultation of Stakeholders published by the European Commission at the beginning of 2011 show:
• a clear consensus on the importance of making the
skills gained through life and work experience visible;
• more weight should be given to less formal forms of validation;
• a need for an overall approach to validation;
• for more quality in validation processes;
• to better integrate validation into enterprises human resources management practices.
More generally it is evident that it is still necessary to convince educational institutions, but also governments, even employers that access to knowledge and qualifications is not linked to specific time and space. It is a continuous process made of periods dedicated to formal, non-formal and informal learning. This implies new roles for teachers and trainers, needs for professionals for guidance and counselling, needs for new administrative and financial organisations taking into account the lifelong learning perspective.

EU frameworks
Formal learning, visualising and to validating learning outcomes gained in “Youth in Action” projects. Youthpass Certificates are available for European Voluntary Service, Youth Exchanges, Training Courses and for Youth Initiatives. https://www.youthpass.eu/
EU Skills Panorama
The European Union “Agenda for New Skills and Jobs” includes producing, as of 2012, an EU Skills Panorama to improve transparency for jobseekers, workers, companies and/or public institutions. The Panorama will be available online and will contain updated forecasting of skills supply and labour market needs up to 2020.
European Framework for Key Competences

The Key Competences for lifelong learning are a combination of knowledge, skills and competences that are essential for the personal fulfillment and development, social inclusion, active citizenship, and employment of European citizens. This framework defines eight key competences and describes the essential knowledge, skills and attitudes related to each of those. Many Member States have already used it to reform their programmes and school curricula. The key competences are: communication in the mother tongue; communication in foreign languages; mathematical competence and basic competences in science and technology; digital competence; learning to learn; social and civic competences; sense of initiative and entrepreneurship; and cultural awareness. http://ec.europa.eu/education/lifelong-learningpolicy/key_en.htm
European Taxonomy of Skills, Competences and Occupations (ESCO)

ESCO aims to be a multilingual European standard terminology and classification of skills, competences, qualifications and occupations. ESCO will build on and link with relevant international classifications and standards, such as the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO) and will complement existing national and sectorial occupational and educational classifications and enable exchange of information between them. A partial classification is already in use in the European job mobility portal EURES. http://ec.europa.eu/eures/

EUCIS (European Civil Society Platform on Lifelong Learning): Other Publications
Last research work on National Stakeholders’ Forums
. Social Inclusion in Education and Training. EUCIS-LLL Conference Report on the “Role, place and value given to volunteering in education and training”, May 2011. EUCIS-LLL Feasibility study on a ”European Institute on Lifelong Learning”, March 2011. General Report from EUCIS-LLL Conference on the social dimension of education and training, 2010. Developing basic skills as key competences, a guide to good practice, EUCIS-LLL, 2004. Skills for Life as the Key to Lifelong Learning – Towards achieving the Lisbon. Accent sur l’apprentissage tout au long de la vie (focus on lifelong learning), 2001.

Posté par pcassuto à 09:08 - - Permalien [#]

Bologna for Pedestrians

http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/highereducation/System/TB_en.jpgBologna for Pedestrians
What is the Bologna Process

The Bologna Process is a European reform process aiming at establishing a European Higher Education Area by 2010. It is an unusual process in that it is loosely structured and driven by the 46 countries participating in it in cooperation with a number of international organisations, including the Council of Europe.
This probably did not really answer the question. It comes down to the following:
By 2010 higher education systems in European countries should be organised in such a way that:
    * it is easy to move from one country to the other (within the European Higher Education Area) – for the purpose of further study or employment;
    * the attractiveness of European higher education is increased so many people from non-European countries also come to study and/or work in Europe;
    * the European Higher Education Area provides Europe with a broad, high quality and advanced knowledge base, and ensures the further development of Europe as a stable, peaceful and tolerant community.
This goal is rather ambitious and it is not connected only to the Bologna Process. However, within the Process, the necessary tools for achieving these goals are being developed and implemented.
Before we move further along, two things should be made clear:
The Bologna Process is not based on an intergovernmental treaty.
There are several documents that have been adopted by the ministers responsible for higher education of the countries participating in the Process, but these are not legally binding documents (as international treaties usually are). Therefore, it is the free will of every country and its higher education community to endorse or reject the principles of the Bologna Process, although the effect of “international peer pressure” should not be underestimated.
It is not foreseen that by 2010 all European countries should have the same higher education system.
On the contrary, one of the very valued features of Europe is its balance between diversity and unity. Rather, the Bologna Process tries to establish bridges that make it easier for individuals to move from one education system or country to another. Therefore, even if e.g. degree systems may become more similar, the specific nature of every higher education system should be preserved. If not, what would be the point to go somewhere else to study if what one studies is going to be the same as back home? The developments within the Bologna Process should serve to facilitate “translation” of one system to the other and therefore contribute to the increase of mobility of students and academics and to the increase of employability throughout Europe. .
How is the Process organised

There are several levels of implementation – international, national and institutional.
When it comes to the international level – there are several modes of cooperation and several structures developing the Bologna Process. There is the so-called Bologna follow-up group (BFUG) that consists of all signatory countries and the European Commission as well as the Council of Europe, EUA, ESU (ex-ESIB), EURASHE, UNESCO-CEPES, ENQA, Educational International Pan-European Structure and UNICE as consultative members.
In addition to this, numerous seminars are being organised throughout Europe, which carry the unofficial label of “Bologna seminars”. These are discussing various issues of the Bologna Process, obstacles to implementation and possibilities for co-operation. You will find an updated calendar on current events on the web site of the Benelux Bologna Secretariat. The results of previous Bologna seminars and activities are available on the UK Bologna Secretariat, the Bologna-Bergen web site (2003 – 2005) and the Berlin Ministerial Conference web site (2001 – 2003).
Every two years a Ministerial Conference is organised where Ministers responsible for higher education of all participating countries gather to evaluate the progress and to set guidelines and priorities for the upcoming period. The last conference took place in Leuven/Louvain-la-Neuve 2009. Previous conferences were held in London in May (2007), Bergen (2005), Berlin (2003), Prague (2001) and Bologna (1999) – see next section for more information.
The national level usually involves the government and ministries responsible for higher education, rectors’ conferences or other university associations, student unions but also in some cases quality assurance agencies, employers etc. Many European countries have already changed their legislation in line with the goals of the Bologna Process and others are preparing to do so. Depending on the country and the development of its higher education system so far, some are introducing ECTS, discussing their degree structures and qualifications, financing and management of higher education, mobility programmes etc.
The institutional level involves higher education institutions, their faculties or departments, student and staff representatives and many other actors. The priorities vary from country to country and from institution to institution. However, it is important to stress that without adequate implementation at the institutional level, little can be achieved in reaching the Bologna objectives.
How did it all begin

The Process officially started in 1999, with the signing of the Bologna Declaration. Twenty-nine countries have signed the declaration on 19 June 1999 in Bologna (hence the name of the whole Process). The Declaration states the following objectives:
    * adoption of a system of easily readable and comparable degrees;
    * adoption of a system essentially based on two main cycles, undergraduate and graduate;
    * establishment of a system of credits – such as in the ECTS;
    * promotion of mobility by overcoming obstacles to the free movement of students, teachers, researchers and administrative staff;
    * promotion of European co-operation in quality assurance;
    * promotion of the necessary European dimensions in higher education.
These six objectives are the essence of the Bologna process and have since been developed further, see below.
However, prior to the signing of the Bologna Declaration, another document was adopted by four countries: France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom – the Sorbonne Declaration. This declaration provided the necessary push towards the Bologna Declaration and indicated already in 1998 the main goals of the European Higher Education Area.
: What has happened since 1999?

After the signing of the Bologna Declaration, a follow-up structure has been organised. The aforementioned Bologna Follow-Up Group was formed. It decided that the Ministerial meetings should take place every two years and the first was held in Prague in 2001. In the meantime, a general rapporteur for the Follow-Up Group was selected. This was Mr. Pedro Lourtie, who later became Deputy Minister of Education in Portugal. His task was to monitor implementation of the objectives of Bologna declaration and report on this to the Ministers of Education in Prague (for the report click here). Furthermore, different countries have organised the so-called “Bologna seminars” which covered various important topics. European University Association (which was formed in March 2001 from two European university networks) developed the so-called Trends II report – report on the implementation of the Bologna declaration at the institutional level and adopted the Message from the Salamanca Convention 2001. ESIB adopted the Student Gőteborg Declaration as a special student message for the Prague Ministerial Summit.
Prague 2001
In May 2001, in Prague, new countries joined the Bologna process: Croatia, Cyprus, Liechtenstein and Turkey. The ministers adopted the so-called Prague Communiqué, which sets guidelines for the next two years, until the Ministerial Conference on the Bologna Process in Berlin in 2003.
It is very important to stress that the Prague Summit introduced several new elements in the Process:
    * students were recognised as full and equal partners in the decision making process and ESIB became a consultative member of the Bologna follow-up group (together with the Council of Europe, European University Association and EURASHE);
    * the social dimension of the Bologna Process was stressed;
    * the idea that higher education is a public good and a public responsibility was highlighted.
In between 2001 and 2003, an even greater number of “Bologna seminars” were organised. Mr. Pavel Zgaga (former Minister of Education of Slovenia, one of those who actually signed the Bologna Declaration) was selected as the General Rapporteur (his report to the Berlin Ministerial Conference can be found here); the EUA developed its Trends III report and also started the Quality Culture Project in higher education institutions and launched a joint masters programme; ESIB completed several student surveys on the implementation of the Bologna Declaration; the European Commission supported several European projects (the Tuning project, the TEEP project) connected to quality assurance etc.
Berlin 2003

At the Berlin Ministerial Conference in September 2003, 7 new countries were accepted into the process (Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Holy See, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”). Thus the total number of countries involved increased to 40. It was also decided that all countries party to the European Cultural Convention are eligible to take part in the Bologna Process provided they apply for accession and submit a satisfactory plan for implementation of the Bologna goals in their higher education system. Apart from taking note of the developments from 2001 to 2003 and setting guidelines for further work, the Berlin Communiqué also concluded:
    * that research is an important part of higher education in Europe and the European Higher Education Area and the European Research Area are in fact two pillars of the knowledge based society. Furthermore, it is necessary to go beyond the focus on two main cycles and the third cycle - doctoral studies - should be included in the Bologna process
    * that in time for their 2005 meeting, Ministers will take stock of progress in these key areas:
    * quality assurance;
    * two-cycle system;
    * recognition of degrees and periods of study;
    * the next Ministerial Conference will take place in Bergen in 2005.
The Bologna Follow-Up Group was asked to look into two issues especially:
    * quality assurance – for this the mandate was given to ENQA, EUA, ESIB and EURASHE;
    * qualifications framework.
Bergen 2005

At the Bergen Ministerial Conference in May 2005, 5 new countries were welcomed (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) as new participating countries in the Bologna Process bringing the total number of participating countries up to 45. It was also decided to enlarge the circle of consultative members to the Education International (EI) Pan-European Structure, the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA), and the Union of Industrial and Employers’ Confederations of Europe (UNICE). The Bergen meeting confirmed the shift from future plans to practical implementation; in particular it was marked by
    * the adoption of an overarching framework of qualifications for the European Higher Education Area and with a commitment to elaborating national qualifications frameworks by 2010 – as well as to having launched work by 2007;
    * the adoption of guidelines and standards for quality assurance and the request that ENQA, the EUA, EURASHE and ESIB elaborate further proposals concerning the suggested register of quality assurance agencies;
    * the further stress on the importance of the social dimension of higher education, which includes – but is not limited to – academic mobility;
    * the necessity of improving interaction between the European Higher Education Area and other parts of the world (the “external dimension”);
    * the growing importance of addressing the development of the European Higher Education Area beyond 2010.
The Council of Europe addressed the Ministerial meeting’s opening session.
London 2007

In London in May 2007, Montenegro was welcomed to the Bologna Process following its declaration of independent in 2006, bringing the number of participating countries to 46. In London, Ministers also:
    * adopted a strategy for the Bologna Process in a Global Context;
    * took note of the second stock taking report;
    * considered reports on:
the social dimension of the Bologna Process and on mobility
portability of grants and loans
qualifications frameworks
a European Register of quality assurance agencies
    * As in Berlin, the Council of Europe addressed the opening session of the Ministerial conference.
Leuven/Louvain-la-Neuve 2009

On April 2009 the Ministerial conference was held in Leuven/Louvain-la-Neuve. Ministers took stock of developments since the previous conference in London (2007) and above all considered priorities and goals for the European Higher Education Area beyond 2010. In particular, Ministers:
    * took note of the Bologna 2009 Stocktaking Report
    * considered reports on:
    * Report on Qualifications Frameworks
    * Synthesis of National Qualifications Frameworks Reports;
    * L'Espace européen de l’enseignement supérieur (EHEA) dans un contexte global;
    * For the other documents clik here;
    * adopted the Leuven/Louvain-la-Neuve Communiqué.
As in London, the Council of Europe addressed the opening session of the Ministerial conference.
The Council submitted a report on its activities to further the Bologna Process since the previous ministerial conference.
On 29 April, the first Bologna Policy Forum gathered high ranking representatives of Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Tunisia, USA, along with the International Association of Universities. In the statement adopted by the meeting, participants underlined the importance of developing cooperation on a range of policy issues.
Council of Europe
Who participates in the Process

Following the London Ministerial Conference, there are 46 countries that are participating in the Bologna process. These are:
    * from 1999: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom;
    * from 2001: Croatia, Cyprus, Liechtenstein, Turkey;
    * from 2003: Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Holy See, Russia, Serbia, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”;
    * from 2005: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine;
    * from May 2007: Montenegro.
Apart from the countries (who are all members of the Bologna follow-up group - BFUG), several international organizations are also participating:
    * European Commission;
    * Council of Europe – consultative member;
    * European University Association – consultative member;
    * EURASHE – consultative member;
    * ESU - The European Students’ Union (former ESIB) – consultative member;
    * UNESCO-CEPES – consultative member;
    * ENQA – consultative member;
    * Education International Pan-European Structure – consultative member;
    * UNICE – consultative member

Posté par pcassuto à 07:54 - - Permalien [#]

The eight Bologna Process ministerial conference and the third Bologna Policy Forum

http://www.ehea.info/Themes/bologna/images/bologna_logo.jpgThe month of April brought new crucial developments for European (and to an extent global) higher education, with the eight Bologna Process ministerial conference and the third Bologna Policy Forum. Ministerial delegations from the 47 member states of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) met in Bucharest, Romania, on 26 and 27 April to discuss the future of this space of higher education, as well as the immediate policy priorities for the next three years. On this occasion, the ministers of education of the 47 countries signed the Bucharest Communiqué, the sixth document of this sort in the history of the Bologna Process. In addition to the communiqué, the EHEA ministers also adopted the EHEA Mobility Strategy – Mobility for better learning, a document outlining their priorities in the field of international student and staff mobility.
The Romanian Ministry of Education, Research, Youth and Sports has the honour to host the eighth Bologna Process/ EHEA Ministerial Conference and third edition of the Bologna Policy Forum, which will be held in Bucharest, Romania, on 26-27 April 2012 at the Palace of the Parliament.
The 2012 Bucharest Ministerial Conference is expected to bring together 47 European Higher Education Area ministerial delegations, the European Commission, as well as the Bologna Process consultative members and Bologna Follow-Up Group partners. The meeting will be an opportunity to take stock of progress of the Bologna Process and set out the key policy issues for the future. The EHEA ministers will jointly adopt the Bucharest Ministerial Communiqué, committing to further the Bologna goals until 2020.
The 2012 Bologna Policy Forum organised in conjunction with the Ministerial Conference is aimed to intensify policy dialogue and cooperation with partners across the world. The theme of the third Bologna Policy forum is "Beyond the Bologna process: Creating and connecting national, regional and global higher education spaces”. The Policy forum has four sub-themes, which will be addressed during the parallel sessions, namely: “Global academic mobility: Incentives and barriers, balances and imbalances”; “Global and regional approaches to quality enhancement of Higher Education”; “Public responsibility for and of HE within national and regional context”; “The contribution of Higher Education reforms to enhancing graduate employability”. This year’s edition of the Bologna Policy Forum will be finalised with the adoption of the 2012 Bologna Policy Forum Statement.
Around 100 ministerial delegations from all regions and 30 international organisations will be expected to be involved in both events.
For further information regarding the Ministerial Meetings please access the official EHEA website at the following link: www.ehea.info.
Welcome to the EHEA official website!
The European Higher Education Area (EHEA) was launched along with the Bologna Process' decade anniversary, in March 2010, during the Budapest-Vienna Ministerial Conference.
As the main objective of the Bologna Process since its inception in 1999, the EHEA was meant to ensure more comparable, compatible and coherent systems of higher education in Europe. Between 1999 - 2010, all the efforts of the Bologna Process members were targeted to creating the European Higher Education Area, that became reality with the Budapest-Vienna Declaration of March, 2010. The next decade will be aimed at consolidating the EHEA and thus the current EHEA permanent website will play a key role in this process of intense internal and external communication.

Armenia will officially assume the responsibility of the Bologna Process Follow-up Group Secretariat starting from July 1, 2012. Armenia will coordinate the Bologna Secretariat until June 30, 2015. Close to this date Armenia will host the Ministerial Conference of the Bologna Process member states in the capital city of Yerevan. read more.
Council of Europe - New Recommendation on the Public Responsibility for Academic Freedom and Institutional Autonomy

On June 20, the CoE Committee of Ministers adopted Recommendation CM/Rec(2012)7 on the Public Responsibility on Academic Freedom and Institutional Autonomy. While several international texts address issues of academic freedom and institutional autonomy, this recommendation is – to our knowledge – the first to do so explicitly with a view to the role of public authorities.  The provisions of the recommendation are also considered in an Explanatory memorandum. read more.

Posté par pcassuto à 07:44 - - Permalien [#]

INFORM - Issue 11 - Learning for a green future

http://www.etf.europa.eu/webatt.nsf/0/C95C409B5E21F8A7C1257A2100443965/$File/INFORM_11_Learning%20for%20green%20future.pngINFORM - Issue 11 - Learning for a green future. Author: Arne Baumann.
Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe. HG Wells
Preventing a global warming catastrophe is a truly global issue. Alongside regulation and stringent pricing of resources, products and services to take account of their true costs to the environment, more and better education in sustainability issues is a prerequisite for success in this paramount task.
Fighting climate change is both feasible and affordable. The cost of preventive actions is estimated at around 1% of global GDP. This is far less than the estimated 5% of global GDP or more (EC, 2011) that we may have to pay for letting climate change accelerate further.
The transformation to a global low-carbon economy is also an economic opportunity. It will lead to the creation of many new jobs in new green sectors (for example renewable energy) and in transformed traditional industries (for example low-energy building construction). In the EU alone, 3 million of so called green jobs are expected by 2020 (EC, 2010).
The ETF’s partner countries cover a wide range of regions and socio-economic backgrounds. The potential for green growth and the risks from climate change vary significantly between them.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that north Africa could experience serious water shortages by the end of this decade. Countries in Central Asia may witness a significant decrease in agricultural yields due to droughts and flooding (IPCC, 2007). Increased poverty, hunger and migration are likely consequences.
The poor will be affected most by climate change. They often lack the skills and resources to mitigate a loss in livelihoods. Improving vocational education and training (VET) can deliver the skills to protect income sources and reduce the risks resulting from climate change.
Partner countries with a strong industrial base can create new employment by modernising their industries and becoming competitive in a low-carbon world. This can be facilitated by implementing a skills and entrepreneurial learning strategy that includes an emphasis on environmental awareness and increased environmental accountability of both public and private sectors.

VET is closely linked to the world of work. VET systems need to anticipate and respond to changes in labour markets and in the skills profiles needed for successful careers in low-carbon economies.
VET can help adapt to climate change: Changing climate conditions constitute a significant threat to traditional income sources. In developing and providing the skills for sustainable agriculture, for example, VET can help to increase the sustainability of small-scale farming and decrease its costs. It can facilitate mutual learning and dissemination of good practices in and across communities.
VET can help to mitigate climate change: Protecting the environment, increasing the efficiency of energy and water consumption, and decreasing the use of non-renewable resources is fundamental for reducing the ecological footprint of economies. VET and entrepreneurial learning convey the necessary skills for the small changes that add up to tangible reductions in water consumption, increases in energy efficiency and improvements in fuel consumption.
VET can help to support green growth: Renewable energy, alternative transport and energy saving technologies offer new economic opportunities to large-scale industry and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). To be able to exploit these opportunities, workers and managers must be comfortable with constant product innovation. VET can provide the required solid skills base and allow the workforce to acquire new knowledge within a lifelong learning perspective.
In 2010, the EU adopted its Europe 2020 strategy. It has five headline targets and seven flagship initiatives designed to generate smart, sustainable and inclusive growth needed for high employment, productivity and social cohesion in Europe by 2020. It identifies key areas where the EU economies need to become greener and more innovative (EC, 2010a).
In the Bruges Communiqué of December 2010, EU ministers for VET and the European Commission steered cooperation in VET towards the achievement of the Europe 2020 strategy, explicitly mentioning sustainable growth and the promotion of equity, social cohesion and active citizenship through VET.
The UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development 2005-14, is an opportunity for UNESCO to integrate the principles, values and practices of sustainable development into all aspects of education and learning. Building on its 2004 Bonn Declaration, UNEVOC focuses on technical VET and its links to sustainable development.
The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) adopted its Strategy for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in 2005 to promote ESD in formal, non-formal and informal learning (UNECE, 2005). The ILO, in co-operation with Cedefop, analysed changing skills needs for green innovation and growth through case studies from 21 countries in their 2010 research project Skills for Green Jobs (Cedefop, 2010; ILO, 2011). The OECD, in its Green Growth Strategy of May 2011, focuses on the macro policies needed for economic growth consistent with resilient ecosystems (OECD, 2011).

There is no single true definition of a “green job”. Existing definitions focus on the job profile or the industry profile or both. Jobs are considered green.
If they have either an explicitly environmental focus in their job profile (reducing energy consumption, protecting ecosystems and biodiversity or minimising emissions and waste),
If they are located in industries or in projects characterised by their environmental focus (energy efficiency, renewable energy, environmental protection or emission reduction).

The majority of green jobs combine existing skills sets with additional skills relating to green technologies, applications or processes (see also ILO, 2011). There will be a need for invention, innovation and moulding of some radically new professional expertise. However, the main challenge is to reform and upgrade the VET system and to offer opportunities for initial training, up-skilling and retraining across the entire range of jobs and occupations in a lifelong learning setting.
Developing competences like environmental awareness, systems thinking and creativity will need as much attention as the delivery of specific skills. The promotion of competences in learners needs to be an integral part of the entire education system, from early childhood to adult education, including the VET system. New and additional skills will need to be delivered across occupations (e.g. energy literacy) as well as in sector- and occupation-specific ways (e.g. organic agriculture, maintaining e-cars).

The shift to a low-carbon economy will create many new employment opportunities, but it will also lead to the decline of traditional industries and make familiar jobs and activities disappear (e.g. in coal mining and parts of petrochemicals).
In order to allow the workforce to switch more easily from old brown jobs to new green jobs, an early analysis of the change in the demand for labour and the forecasting of future skills needs are important. Social partnership is crucial for these analyses. By bringing together labour market actors and education and training providers, countries can translate labour market needs into up-skilling and retraining
activities and into changes of curricula in vocational and higher education.
Employment services, and in particular Public Employment Services, can act as agencies for moderating the transition to a low-carbon economy. They can provide career guidance and targeted training as well as work-experience for the unemployed.
They can also play an important role in providing access to lifelong learning.

The ETF has identified five areas in human capital development
to support partner countries to meet the demands of sustainable development, responding to the challenges of climate change and taking advantage of the transformation to low-carbon economies.
- Competences for sustainable development
Becoming competent in sustainability requires developing problem solving ability, awareness of environmental issues and attitudes that support sustainable actions. The ETF advocates a school and a teaching culture that provides students
with an active role, connects with actual sustainability issues in schools and community life and organises active learning at ‘real-world’ sites.
- Methods of identification, forecasting and provision of skills for green jobs
Forecasting future skills needs and targeted labour market interventions are crucial for shifting to a low-carbon economy
successfully. Identifying and testing adequate qualitative forecasting approaches is a priority in the ETF’s assistance to partner countries. The ETF also provides information on existing approaches for identifying skills for green jobs. From these examples the partner countries can draw lessons and inspiration for their own policies.
- Vocational schools as agents for local sustainable development
Vocational schools are ideally positioned to function as expertise resources on issues such as adaptation to climate change, environmental protection and sustainability. In its support and capacity building activities for schools, the ETF promotes the whole school approach to learning for sustainable
development in which schools actively support values of sustainability and become local agents for skills development
in green economies.
- The green transformation as an objective of entrepreneurial
learning and business education
Integrating sustainable development and green growth into all aspects of entrepreneurial learning and business education is fundamental for the transformation to a green economy. Without businesses taking on the challenge of transforming environmental regulation and customer demands into a wide and growing range of sustainable services and products, the shift to a low-carbon economy will remain elusive. The ETF promotes the provision of the necessary training and consultancy services.
- Indicators as tools for capacity building and policy learning in greening VET
Indicators facilitate policy debate and policy learning over time. The ETF uses indicators to promote broad government support for including sustainability and skills development in a green economy in VET reform, and to support individual vocational schools in becoming centres for skills development
in a green economy. Self-assessment processes bring together teachers, headmasters, policy makers and stakeholders,
providing a communication platform and creating momentum for advancing sustainable development and skills development for green jobs in VET systems.

Cedefop, 2010, Skills for Green Jobs. European Synthesis Report, Luxembourg
European Commission, 2010, An Agenda for new skills and jobs: A European contribution towards full employment, COM(2010) 682 final, 23.11.2010
European Commission, 2010a, Europe 2020: A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, COM(2010) 2020, Brussels, 03.03.2010
European Commission, 2011, Factsheet on Climate Change, available at: http://www.ec.europa.eu/clima
ILO, 2011, Skills for Green Jobs – A Global View. Synthesis Report Based on 21 Country Studies, Geneva
IPCC, 2008 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 2007, Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,
OECD, 2011, Towards Green Growth, available at: http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/37/34/48224539.pdf.
UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe), 2005, UNECE Strategy for Education for Sustainable Development, ECE/CEP/AC.13/2005/3/Rev.1, available at: http://www.unece.org/env/esd.html.

Posté par pcassuto à 07:26 - - Permalien [#]

Learning For A Green Future

http://www.etf.europa.eu/web.nsf/Images/etf-logo.gifNew Policy Briefing: Learning For A Green Future. Watch the interview with the author of the ETF briefing “Learning for a green future”. Watch the interview with the author of the ETF briefing “Learning for a green future”.
In a new policy briefing, the ETF presents its vision of vocational education and training (VET)  in the context of sustainable development and green growth.
Vocational education and training (VET) can make an important contribution to help individuals and economies to benefit from green growth.
VET is instrumental in moderating the changes in labour markets and in the skills profiles that come with the green transformation of our economies.
For the economies and individuals to benefit from green growth, vocational education and training needs to anticipate and respond to the changes in labour markets and in the skills profiles that come with reducing the ecological footprint of our economies.
These are the main messages of a new ETF policy briefing “Learning for a green future”.
The publishing of new ETF policy briefing coincides with Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 20-22 June 2012.
In the document you can find more about:
-    What is the green growth potential of ETF partner countries,
-    How vocational education and training can help mitigate and adapt to climate change and support the green growth,
-    What the ETF does to help partner countries meet the demands of sustainable development.
Learning for a green future.

Posté par pcassuto à 07:12 - - Permalien [#]

GREECE - New minister signals readiness to tone down higher education reforms

http://enews.ksu.edu.sa/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/UWN.jpgByMakki Marseilles. Greece’s Education Minister Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos has indicated that the new coalition government is willing to negotiate a compromise on controversial higher education reforms inherited from the two previous administrations.
Two active academics are now at the head of the Education Ministry: Arvanitopoulos, a distinguished scholar and best-selling lexicographer, is the secretary of education and Theodore Papatheodorou, former rector of the University of Peloponissos, is the new under-secretary.
Addressing a conference of the presidents of technological institutes last week, Arvanitopoulos announced the start of a nationwide discussion to find solutions to problems pointed out by the presidents. He assured them that the financing of student care, a matter of great concern to the institute leaders, will be solved from within the institutions’ budgets.
An uneasy truce appears to be hanging over education under the tripartite government established following successive general elections on 6 March and 17 June.
The focus of attention has been on Greece’s pressing economic problems while the academic community, effectively sidelined during the summer recess, is carefully monitoring the situation and laying out its future plans.
Arvanitopoulos was junior education minister in the short-lived Papadimos government, which voted with a hugely increased majority for the framework 4009/11 legislation – which provoked opposition from almost the entire academic community including Papathedorou, who is now called upon to implement them.
In particular, academics opposed the introduction of management councils, which will elect new rectors and other university officers such as deans.
Universities and technological institutions have also faced a large reduction in their reserves after they were placed in government bonds, whose value was written down by 53.4% as part of the country’s debt reduction programme.
The ministerial appointments send a strong signal to the academic community that the coalition government is willing to negotiate and even change some of the more unpalatable provisions.
Given Arvanitopoulos’s expressed willingness to make changes, this week’s University Rectors' Synod was due to finalise proposals for amendments they wish to see in the law.
Anna Diamandopoulou, architect of the higher education reforms, failed to be elected to parliament. But her party, PASOK, is a government partner and remains strongly opposed to tweaking the reforms.
The technical institute presidents warned that they will remain closed in September unless their severe economic problems are resolved. They said they would go to court to challenge the compulsory 'shaving' of the bonds and insisted that immediate measures to support education, research and development at their institutions were essential.
They also proposed the reinstatement of the lowest grade of 10 for entry to universities as a means to admit fewer candidates.
Academics are opposed to further cuts to their salaries and are preparing 'dynamic mobilisation' if the government does so.
In a recent statement the Federation of University Teachers Associations said that many Greek academics are refusing appointments in Greek universities as a result of very low salaries, while “a substantial number of young, dynamic and internationally recognised academic teachers and researchers are planning to emigrate in order to improve their earnings”.
The federation warned finance ministers that further cuts to the salaries of academics were likely to drive an irreversible brain drain that would probably be disastrous for economic recovery in Greece.

Posté par pcassuto à 07:07 - - Permalien [#]

Efforts to more efficiently rule out ‘ungenuine’ international student applicants

http://www.aca-secretariat.be/typo3conf/ext/smf_aca_newsletter/res/banner-newsletter-aca.gifThe month of July brought new developments in the UK, the US and New Zealand for one and the same matter – their fight against bogus international student applicants.
The UK Border Agency announced the toughening of its visa regime for oversees student applicants as of 30 July this year. As an addition to the current selection and visa application procedure, the UKBA announced that, starting this date, it will perform between 10 000 and 14 000 compulsory interview tests over the coming year as a means to better filter our bogus applicants, i.e. those that want to enter the UK with a student visa but without the intention to study or without having the right credentials. It is estimated that about 5% of those coming every year to the UK from outside Europe will be interviewed in this fashion. UKBA will thus gain new powers and will be able to refuse grating visas to students whose credibility remains questionable after the interview round. This announcement came after the results of a pilot scheme recently completed were announced and identified some important gaps in the existing system. 2 300 student visa applicants from 47 countries have been interviewed under this trial by consular officials at 13 posts abroad. The UKBA staff were able to turn down 17% of these applicants on grounds that they lacked basic language skills, and reported they had doubts about the genuineness of another 32%, to whom they would have refused the visas, had they had the power to do so. Most problems were registered with applicants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Burma, Nigeria and the Philippines. The expectation is that applicants from these countries will be the prime target for the forthcoming interviews. Clearly, the new measure makes university and college representatives unhappy, as they fear that it will further discourage good applicants to target the UK as a study destination.
In parallel, in New Zealand, the random check of a sample of student visa applicants has uncovered immigration fraud at the Beijing branch of Immigration New Zealand (INZ). The fraud consists mainly in fake qualifications and fake bank statements, and concerns 279 applicants, 231 of which were already in the country. The fake students were enrolled at 20 higher education providers in the Auckland area. However, the providers had, according to the results of the investigation, nothing to do with the fraud. The latter seems to have been facilitated by two agents in China, but the investigation is ongoing. The fraudulent applicants will be, once identified and located, deported back to China.
Last but not least, a recently released report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in the US points to serious flaws in the procedures used by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to “investigate, identify and combat fraud” in the framework of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, which it manages. GAO concludes that ICE has “not done enough to ensure that the 10 000 schools and colleges that enrolled a total of 850 000 foreign students as of January have done so legitimately”. The report points to a number of problems including accreditation and puts forward recommendations, which have already been approved by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Times Higher Education.
New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
United States Government Accountability Office.

Posté par pcassuto à 07:03 - - Permalien [#]

The European Commission shares lessons learnt from Erasmus Mundus

http://www.aca-secretariat.be/typo3conf/ext/smf_aca_newsletter/res/banner-newsletter-aca.gifIn mid-July, the European Commission made available  two reports about the Erasmus Mundus Programme (EM). One of the reports, entitled Experience and lessons learnt from the first generation of EMMC, presents the analysis of 36 individual assessments of final reports submitted by first generation Erasmus Mundus Master Courses (EMMC), selected in 2004 and 2005. The other one is a survey report of the combined Cluster on Sustainability and Recognition of Degrees and Joint Degrees project. Drawing on the experience of previous EM projects, both reports aim to identify existing good practices, as well as difficulties faced by EM study programmes.
Examples of best practices presented in the first report cover areas such as programme management, quality assurance, engagement of external actors, promotion and recruitment, and funding. Apart from best practices, it also challenges some myths such as ‘the more partners the merrier’. It was found, for example, that partners in large consortia risk under-enrollment at a certain stage and also that a graduate certificate with multiple seals for a single study period tends to invite more suspicion rather than trust from potential employers.
Both reports conclude that much work is needed to improve the recognition of EM degrees. Despite the reputation of the Erasmus Mundus Programme, there is no such a thing as an ‘Erasmus Mundus Degree’ awarded by a centralised ‘authoritative’ body. Differences in national legislations, institutional administrative regulations, and in academic ‘scoring cultures’, have prevented the award of joint degrees for 19 out of the 36 first-generation EM consortia.
Finally, both reports express doubt about the sustainability of EM study programmes without the funding support of the European Commission. The ‘reputation capital’ earned by some established EM programmes and sustained through the Erasmus Mundus Brand Name programme have enabled some EM programmes to attract students without relying on funding from the European Union. However, the costs of maintaining a high quality and well networked international programme, pose high financial risks for the institutions, especially in time of budgetary constraints.
The first report was prepared by four independent experts: Lucia Franchi, Sylvia Gómez-Ansón, Michel Jouve and Frank Wilson and the second by Ecorys UK Ltd. Both are available on the website of the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA).
European Commission: Experience and lessons learnt from the first generation of EMMC .
European Commission: Survey Report - Cluster on Sustainability and Recognition of Degrees and Joint Degrees.
Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA).

Posté par pcassuto à 07:00 - - Permalien [#]