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Published:  30 Apr 2024

EU countries and higher education sector discuss next steps towards European degree

On 29 April, the results of 10 Erasmus+ pilot projects were presented in Brussels. They called for increased cooperation, funding and swift implementation of the proposals.

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

The event also gave the opportunity to discuss the next steps towards making the European degree a reality, as proposed by the European Commission.

A total of 1 600 participants attended the event, in person and online.

They represented national authorities, higher education institutions and students from across the EU, national quality assurance agencies, the higher education sector and the European Commission.

Unanimous agreement

The participating experts unanimously called for further work on the

  • implementation of a blueprint for the European degree
  • promotion of deeper transnational cooperation between higher education institutions in Europe through a possible European legal status for alliances

They stressed the need to implement the necessary legislative changes in a coordinated fashion and to provide a framework for sustainable institutionalised cooperation at European level, which would also allow for the awarding of European degrees.

To achieve these challenges, participants called on EU countries to reinforce cooperation with the higher education sector and the European Commission.

Pilot projects objectives

Of the 10 Erasmus+ pilot projects, 6 aimed to:

  • test the European criteria for a European degree
  • pilot a joint European degree
  • provide recommendations to facilitate the development and implementation of joint degrees in Europe

The 4 other Erasmus+ pilot projects involved alliances of higher education institutions and tested a possible European legal status for these alliances. The aim of this legal status is to give any type of alliances of higher education institutions, on a voluntary basis, the latitude to act together, including on designing joint curricula. The projects provided recommendations for a possible future European legal status, with specific features tailored to the higher education sector.

Projects’ results

The Erasmus+ pilot projects concluded that there is still a substantial number of key obstacles to creating and implementing transnational joint programmes, despite the considerable progress made through the Bologna process.

These obstacles include, for instance:

  • complex and lengthy quality assurance processes in a transnational context
  • barriers to automatic mutual recognition of qualifications
  • inconsistent recognition of the work of academic staff involved in transnational cooperation activities

Overall, projects' results further confirmed the added value of the European degree through its potential to:

  • increase the attractiveness of European higher education
  • underpin freedom of movement for students and staff members of higher education institutions, through genuine embedded mobility opportunities and intercultural experiences

A possible European legal status for alliances could facilitate joint educational activities, such as the delivery of a European degree and micro-credentials for lifelong learning. It would also eliminate or reduce operational and administrative obstacles higher education institutions face when working closer together.

A final report on these project results is due in autumn 2024.

Next steps towards a European degree

Having a proposal for a blueprint is only the first step on the pathway towards a European degree. It is the start of formal discussions with the Council of the EU to adopt the European criteria and with EU countries to enact necessary reforms.

The European Commission will also maintain close cooperation with the higher education sector.

Work on a possible European legal status for alliances continues, building on the results of the Erasmus+ pilot projects.

A European Degree Policy Lab and the European Degree Forum, both planned for 2025, will give the pilot projects and the higher education sector the chance to contribute to discussions.

Published:  30 Apr 2024