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Avaldatud:  27 Mar 2024

Commission presents a blueprint for a European degree

The European Commission has adopted a package of ambitious proposals for Europe’s higher education sector, with the aim of working towards a European degree. The package contains a blueprint for this new and universally recognised qualification, as a result of deeper and wider transnational cooperation between higher education institutions - a key component of the European Education Area.

Young female student, next to text bubble "Towards a European Degree"

The blueprint proposes a concrete cooperation path and outlines support measures for European Union (EU) countries and their higher education systems towards the creation of a European degree.

As part of the package, the Commission has also adopted 2 proposals for Council recommendations on

  • a European quality assurance and recognition system in higher education
  • attractive and sustainable careers in higher education

Both proposals go beyond the pure ambition of developing a European degree and are advantageous for the wide and diverse higher education sector.

This blueprint builds on the results of 6 Erasmus+ pilot projects that have involved more than 140 higher education institutions from all EU countries.

What is a European degree?

  • A new type of degree awarded after transnational Bachelor, Master, or Doctoral programmes delivered at national, regional, or institutional level
  • Automatically recognised everywhere in the EU
  • Awarded jointly and on a voluntary basis by a group of universities across Europe
  • Based on a common set of criteria agreed at European level


  • Contribute to Europe’s competitiveness by equipping graduates with future-proof skills to master the green and digital transitions
  • Provide a strong symbol of our common European identity and strong sense of European belonging, reinforcing our common academic values and bringing people and universities together

What is the added value of a European degree?

For students, it will offer more opportunities to study at various universities in different EU countries and to graduate with one universally recognised diploma. It will give access to innovative and transdisciplinary learning opportunities across campuses to acquire the future-proof skills that Europe needs. 

For higher education institutions, it will make it simpler to set up a joint degree programme with several universities across Europe, by removing unnecessary barriers. It will also help those universities to increase their competitiveness and attractiveness.

For employers, it will ease the recruitment of highly skilled qualified graduates who are ready to face the challenges of a rapidly changing world.

Next steps

In view of the diversity of the European higher education systems across Europe, the Commission proposes a gradual approach for EU countries towards a European degree, with 2 possible entry points:

  • A preparatory European label - given to joint degree programmes that meet the European criteria; this means students receive a European degree label certificate together with their joint degree
  • A European degree - a new type of qualification awarded either jointly by several universities from different countries or possibly by a European legal entity established by such universities; this means students receive a ‘European degree’

How the Commission will support EU countries and the higher education sector

  • A European degree policy lab to develop detailed guidelines and action plans for the implementation of a European degree with national experts, higher education institutions, quality assurance/accreditation agencies, students, and economic and social partners
  • A new annual European degree forum that monitors progress and provides guidance, gathering high-level representatives from EU countries, key organisations in quality assurance and recognition, and representatives from economic and social partners
  • New Erasmus+ support for European degree Pathway Projects enabling EU countries, together with their accreditation and quality assurance agencies, universities, students, economic and social partners, to navigate the pathway towards a European degree; and for European degree Design Measures to enable higher education institutions to adapt existing joint programmes or to create new ones leading to a European degree

Why do we need joint degree programmes?

Transnational education is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ option but a necessity, as

  • the key challenges of our time are becoming increasingly global, and Europe’s open strategic autonomy increasingly urgent
  • future generations must be equipped with the competences and skills that European societies will need to thrive in an ever more interconnected world

For this, we need to facilitate and accelerate the development of future-proof joint degree programmes, especially a universally recognised, European degree.

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Towards a European quality assurance and recognition system

Quality assurance in higher education is key to ensure trust between universities and trust from employers in their degrees.

Although much has already been done, many higher education institutions in Europe indicate that quality assurance processes for transnational programmes are still too long, costly, and poorly fit for transnational joint programmes.

The European quality assurance and recognition system in higher education would

  • foster transnational cooperation of higher education institutions in Europe
  • facilitate people’s learning mobility
  • facilitate development of joint programmes
  • increase the ability to respond quickly to fast-changing societal and market needs with educational programmes
  • contribute to automatic recognition of learning experiences abroad and qualifications

The proposal invites EU countries and higher education institutions to simplify and improve their quality assurance processes and practices. This would

  • allow higher education institutions to adapt their programmes more quickly to societal needs
  • endorse innovative pedagogical offers and ensure that higher education institutions can deliver more easily transnational programmes that are quality assured and automatically recognised across the EU

The proposal also invites EU countries and their higher education institutions to scrutinise existing tools and practices with a view to making them fit-for-purpose.

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More attractive and sustainable academic careers

Delivering the European degree also requires dedicated and skilled staff.

The Commission’s proposal makes recommendations to

  • ensure that national higher education systems address the uneven recognition of the diverse roles staff take on in addition to research - such as teaching, the development of transnational education activities, of micro-credentials, or mainstreaming sustainable development
  • attract talent and retain it in academia
  • create a working environment that offers high-quality and inclusive education, pioneering new joint transnational educational activities and ensuring knowledge sharing and relevant skills provision in a fast-moving world

To attract talented people and retain them in academic careers, higher education must offer competitive working conditions, where staff

  • can thrive, regardless of their personal background,
  • enjoy academic freedom in line with the principles of a democratic, open, fair, and inclusive society
Tagged in:  Higher education
Avaldatud:  27 Mar 2024