International Student Mobility Based on Learning Outcomes and Workload: The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System

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    The European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students, in short, the ERASMUS Programme, established in 1987 was the start of a transfer program for students and teachers that has not been equalled anywhere else in the world. Its main intention was (and is) to promote the European integration process and to develop a European mindset. From the beginning it was well understood that such a transfer scheme presumed a theoretical and conceptual foundation. This became the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS), which was initiated as a six-year pilot, but was widely implemented from 1995 on. As a result of the Bologna Process that started in 1999, ECTS gradually transformed from a transfer system (based on the notion of student workload) into a transfer and accumulation system. This change was initiated by the European Commission supported grassroots initiative Tuning Educational Structures in Europe (founded in 2001). It implied a change of paradigm from expert-driven to student-centred education, requiring new models for the design and delivery of educational programs. The need was also felt to develop conceptual frameworks based on the concept of competences and learning outcomes. This resulted in general overarching European qualifications frameworks and Tuning subject area frameworks. These were thought necessary to guarantee not only the comparability and compatibility of degree programs, but also to respect minimum standards. After a construction phase of around seven years, an implementation phase of the Bologna Process followed; that is, the actual application of the learning outcomes approach as an integral part of the paradigm change. From 2010 awareness arose that the desired reforms were not taking place in the majority of European countries as widely or as in depth as was intended. This was confirmed by Bologna Process progress reports. The disconnect between the desired reforms and the actual situation triggered Tuning to take a bold new initiative in 2016—in close consultation with the European Commission—to implement a feasibility study on Measuring and Comparing Achievements of Learning Outcomes of Higher Education in Europe (CALOHEE), of which so-called assessment frameworks are the basic instrument.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationLearning Outcomes, Academic Credit, and Student Mobility
    EditorsChristine Arnold, Mary Wilson, Jean Bridge, Mary Catharine Lennon
    Place of PublicationMontreal and Kingston
    PublisherMcGill-Queen's University Press
    Number of pages26
    ISBN (Print)9781553395546
    Publication statusPublished - Oct-2020


    • Credit system
    • Student-centred education
    • TUNING

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