One of the Bologna Process’ core goals is mobility of students in bachelor’s and master’s degree programmes as well as doctoral students to other countries (= credit mobility) without losing study time at their home institution. This applies to both study periods abroad and internships abroad.
Mobility moreover is promoted by the possibility to study the three study cycles at different places of learning (= degree mobility). In this process not only the study structure but especially the recognition practice and the transparent presentation of the study offers and the skills acquired play an important part. In the recognition process of study cycles and degrees the people responsible for these issues at the higher education institutions concerned are required to pay more attention to the comparability of learning outcomes and skills and less to the identity of content or the exact workload of the teaching formats completed. Helpful so-called Bologna tools in this context are ECTS (= European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System), the Diploma Supplement, qualifications frameworks, clear framework conditions for quality assurance and the already mentioned learning outcome orientation.
The Erasmus Charter for Higher Education (ECHE) provides the quality basis for good support to mobile persons during and after their studies. Getting to know other countries, cultures and especially types of learning promotes skills such as flexibility, networking capacity and intercultural understanding in addition to foreign language learning.
Educational stays abroad moreover increase performance, the ability to work in a team, resilience and curiosity – and thus contribute to the personal development of the students. Mobility of teaching staff, researchers and administrative staff of higher education institutions on the other hand increases the understanding of the challenges for international students at the home institution and ideally contributes to an expansion of the current teaching and research approaches and to diversity-sensitive administrative processes. Initiatives, studies and documentation regarding mobility are available on the official website of the European higher education area. If you are interested in these, you will receive studies and further information from the Bologna Service Point.
means the determination of the value of a (foreign) educational qualification. The increase of mobility abroad in all study cycles (BA – MA – PhD) is a central goal in the design of the European higher education area. Many students want to study part of their degree programme at a higher education institution abroad – without risking a prolongation of the duration of their studies. An important prerequisite for this is recognition that is as broad as possible.
An overview of the position papers regarding recognition, transparency and comparability is available here.
Recognition is increasingly associated with the terms of permeability and lifelong learning. The important thing is to enable individual educational paths and to support specific further qualification to guarantee to produce the necessary young academics. Higher permeability between academic and vocational education is an important element of lifelong learning.
For higher education institutions this means in particular to respond to people with a vocational qualification with or without a higher education entrance qualification gained at a school and to make use of possibilities of recognition of vocationally acquired skills towards a university degree programme.
Student-centred teaching and learning
is regarded as one of the priorities par excellence in the European higher education area:
"Enhancing the quality and relevance of learning and teaching is the main mission of the EHEA [European Higher Education Area]. We will encourage and support higher education institutions and staff in promoting pedagogical innovation in student-centred learning environments and in fully exploiting the potential benefits of digital technologies for learning and teaching".
Source: Bologna Yerevan Communiqué 2015, p. 2
Student-centred learning (SCL) represents a qualitative leap for students and other learners in a learning environment that strengthens their independence and critical abilities by means of an outcome-oriented approach. An excerpt from “ÖH-Bundesvertretung (2012). Forum Hochschule – chapter Quality of Teaching (pp. 58-85)” provides an orientation. SCL means:
- Shifting of the focus from teaching to learning and to the students
- The focus is on the students’ needs and interests and the individuality of each person is taken into account (different prior knowledge, social backgrounds, learning types, etc.)
- Enabling active participation and interaction
- Students must have an active role in the teaching – “enabling“ instead of “telling“
- Students should not be seen as mere recipients of knowledge but as active partners in higher education
- Rights of participation of students in the design of everyday higher education life, content and didactical design of teaching and the study structure
- The relationship between students and lecturers must be based on mutual respect and exchange
- Research-driven and problem solution oriented teaching
- Versatile application of methods that meets the needs (e.g. as regards group size, teaching content, group dynamics, etc.) and enables an active role of students and interaction
- Promoting students’ independence and freedom
- Reflexive process: evaluation on a regular basis and development of a feedback culture
- Creating transparency (e.g. What happens in a course? What is the grading based on? etc.)
ECTS – European Credit Transfer and Accumulation Syste
is a student-centred system for the accumulation and transfer of credits based on the principles of transparency of learning, teaching and grading processes. It aims at supporting the planning, implementation and evaluation of study programmes as well as student mobility by the recognition of learning outcomes and qualifications as swell as study periods abroad. [From ECTS User’s Guide 2015, key features]. Usually the results that comply with the agreed study programme, the Learning Agreement, are credited.
For further information about ECTS see the website of the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy (BMWFW).
ECTS Guide 2015
The European Bologna Follow-up Group 2012-2015 adapted the ECTS Guide 2009 to current technological achievements in higher education teaching and to the lifelong learning’s needs.
The national expert for the European higher education area, Regine Bolter, was involved in the reforms of the guide in the working group “Revision of the ECTS Users' Guide“. 48 countries adopted the new guide in the course of the ministerial meeting in Yerevan (May 14th – 15th, 2015). In 2017 the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy (BMWFW) published national recommendations on the ECTS Guide 2015.
Essential reforms of the ECTS Guide 2015 (selection):
- The term “credits” shall no longer be translated into the languages of the individual countries in the European higher education area; other terms were also defined more precisely in the glossary
- Only whole numbers shall be used for credits (exception: uniform module size with 7.5 credits)
- Paradigm shift from teaching staff-centred to student-centred teaching and learning
- Taking into account new forms of teaching/learning (Open Education, MOOCs, blended learning, ...)
- ECTS for programme design, teaching and supervision: the distribution of credits should be monitored on a regular basis and revised if necessary
- Short cycle studies are part of the ECTS and the Bologna study architecture, i.e. they are placed in the level below BA studies (qualifications framework). There are no short cycle studies in Austria.
- Loosening of the regulations regarding the application of ECTS on the PhD/doctoral level (not mandatory)
- Credit mobility: clear rules who is the sole contact person for the Learning Agreement and for recognition
- It is not the same number of credits acquired that is decisive for recognition but the equivalence of the learning outcomes
- Grade distribution table including examples of good practice
- Grade conversion is not mandatory but increases fairness for students
- More detailed definition of ECTS for non-formal and informal learning, ECTS and LLL as well as ECTS and quality assurance
- In the annex the Guide 2015 provides examples for grade conversion and a reading list as well as examples for programme profiles and learning outcomes.