Record number of Europass documents completed


This article first appeared on the ECCTIS Blog

Since 2008 there has been an 86% increase in the number of visits from the UK to the central Europass website. Nearly quarter of a million visits were complete in 2012 resulting in over 120,000 Europass CVs being completed.

“These are really encouraging figures” commented Frazer Wallace, Europass Co-ordinator, “we’ve been working very hard at promoting the benefits of Europass and how the documents can help promote an individual’s skills and competencies and it seems to be paying off!”

In total, over 2.25 million Europass CVs and 40,000 Language Passports were complete in English while over 2 million Europass documents were downloaded in English in 2012; a 195% increase since 2008.

More information about the number of Europass documents that have been downloaded can be found on the central Europass website http://europass.cedefop.europa.eu/en/resources/statistics.

More information about Europass is available from the Europass website.

January 2013


The Diploma Supplement and the Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR)


This article was first published on the ECCTIS Blog

At the Berlin Ministerial meeting in 2003, the UK and the other Bologna signatory countries committed themselves to the introduction of the Diploma Supplement. The agreed objective was that the Diploma Supplement should be issued automatically and free of charge to every student graduating from 2005.

In the UK, in 2013, this target has yet to be achieved, but what is the current situation with Diploma Supplement implementation and why has it proven so difficult to achieve?

The UK National Europass Centre (UK NEC) has a particular interest in the Diploma Supplement, because it is responsible for promoting the Diploma Supplement in the UK as one of the five documents that comprise the Europass Portfolio.

The Diploma Supplement: Background and status of implementation

The Diploma Supplement was designed jointly by the European Commission, the Council of Europe, and UNESO/CEPES and derives from a pilot programme that ran from 1996-1998. It is issued to students by Higher Education Institutions on the successful completion of a qualification. It provides information about the qualification, institution and qualification framework to aid recognition by credential evaluators, admissions officers, employers, individuals, etc.

The results of the 2011 UK Higher Education International Unit European Activity Survey of UK HEIs indicates that, of the 70 institutions that responded to the survey, 79% currently issue the Diploma Supplement. Of these, 82% use the standard European format; 73% issue them automatically.

One reason why the Diploma Supplement has not been ubiquitously implemented across the UK Higher Education Sector is because of the existence of the Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR).

The HEAR

The HEAR is specific to the UK and is the product of the Burgess Implementation Steering Group. It derives from a 2007 report Beyond the Honours Degree Classification. The HEAR is a concise, electronic document produced by a higher education institutions (HEIs), which provides a record of a student’s achievement during their time in higher education.

The HEAR conforms to the data fields for the European Diploma Supplement template, but it differs from the Diploma Supplement in a number of ways, including:

  • It is an electronic rather than paper document.
  • The title of the document (HEAR Diploma Supplement).
  • It is an on-going record that is updated throughout the student’s career with the institution (although the HEAR Diploma Supplement is the exit document issued on completion of the qualification). It can be accessed by the student at any time.
  • It contains information about the student’s non-academic achievement that can be verified and validated by the institution.

The relationship between the Diploma Supplement and the HEAR

The Diploma Supplement template and the guidelines governing its completion are inflexible. This is because the document is jointly owned by the European Commission, Council of Europe and UNESCO-CEPES.

Higher education institutions have the option to apply for the Diploma Supplement Label – a quality label which requires applicants to follow stringent guidelines to ensure consistency in the content and format of the document.

Because of the differences between the Diploma Supplement and HEAR, there has historically been uncertainty as to whether the HEAR complies with the Diploma Supplement template, and whether it meets the Diploma Supplement Label requirements. Some HEIs have, understandably, been reluctant to introduce either document until the issue is resolved.

In October 2012, the Burgess Implementation Steering Group published their final report entitled Bringing It All Together: Introducing the HEAR. The report proposed that higher education representative bodies commend the HEAR to be adopted sector-wide for students entering education in the academic year 2012-2013 (Universities UK and GuildHE have subsequently commended the HEAR to the sector).

Concurrently, clarification was sought from the European Commission as to whether the HEAR DS could meet the Diploma Supplement label requirements. The European Commission’s response was that they had no issue with the title of the document, or its electronic nature, and raised no objection to the inclusion of additional information so long as “it can provide genuine added value in a national context”.

Conclusions

The European Commission’s indication that the HEAR Diploma Supplement can meet the requirement for the Diploma Supplement Label has opened the door to a common UK position for the implementation of the Diploma Supplement.

These developments are a significant step towards widespread adoption of the HEAR Diploma Supplement across the sector. Indications from the Burgess Implementation Steering Group are that over 100 HEIs have already signed up to issue it.

The UK NEC will be paying close attention to future developments in this area, and is particularly interested in whether any of those institutions issuing the HEAR will apply for the Diploma Supplement label and test the question of what non-academic additional information the European Commission considers provides genuine added value to the document?


Graduate recruitment best practice


The Graduate Market in 2014, a study of graduate vacancies at the country’s leading employers, has highlighted that employers are increasing their graduate intake by nearly 10% in 2014. Despite a dip in recent years, firms such as investment banks, law firms and the public sector are likely to see a sharp increment in applicant’s this year; holding both domestic and international qualifications.

Each recruiter has their own requirements, with a 2:1 and ABB frequently being required at bachelor and A levels respectively. This is obviously simple to regulate when an applicant has qualifications awarded within the UK, but how do employers ensure that these benchmarks are consistent across all applicants – how do they guarantee that applicants educated in countries such as Nigeria, India and China are held to a comparable standard?

UK NARIC has seen a sharp increase in communication with graduate employers over the last 12 months. The majority of our conversations have been with HR Managers hoping to ensure that they are providing a consistent message to all applicants; aiming to stand behind UK NARIC information when decisions are questioned by the applicant.

As a result of this the International Grade Comparisons database was developed in 2013. Recruiters have been able to ensure consistency in grade equivalences from over 40 key feeder countries to the UK, with further consultation ensuring that an additional 20 countries will be added to the database in 2014.

The next step has been for recruiters to ask UK NARIC for help in streamlining their application systems; by providing data to support the application procedure recruiters have been able to ensure that applicants were signposted to appropriate jobs and the selection process has been made more efficient in terms of reduced unsuitable applicants.

We’d be interested to hear from any graduate recruiters in the hope of further discussing challenges, such as what has been mentioned above, as we continue to work towards providing information which is relevant and useful to all sectors. Please do get in contact (communications@naric.org.uk) should you have any thoughts, suggestions or questions about the above information or UK NARIC as a whole.


Where do you want to go next?


Making sure that employers and education providers understand the value of your qualifications is vitally important.

If you want to take the next step by either studying, looking for a first job or looking to change jobs, it is fundamental to make sure that your qualifications, skills and abilities are valued.

Not all employers, colleges or universities understand the skills and competencies that are associated with qualifications. So whether you hold academic, vocational or professional qualifications from the UK or from overseas we are able to help ensure your qualifications are understood.

Mobility across Europe

Whether you have studied in the UK or elsewhere in Europe, the Europass portfolio can help you stand out from the crowd.

Europass documents are used throughout the UK and Europe and can help employers, universities, colleges and professional bodies understand more about the skills and competencies that are obtained through training and qualifications.

Visit the Europass website to find out more.

Qualifications from overseas

If British HEIs or potential employers have difficulties understanding the level of your qualifications, UK NARIC can help you. UK NARIC can provide a Statement of Comparability to compare your qualifications to the UK’s qualification frameworks. So, if you want to work or study in the UK please visit the UK NARIC website to find out more.


The Diploma Supplement and the Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR)


We keep hearing that there is some confusion about the Europass Diploma Supplement (DS) and the Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR).  This blog post might clear up some of the confusion and highlight how they can be used to promote a course, enable employers and education providers to spot the brightest and best and improve a graduates chance of getting the right job.

The Diploma Supplement and the Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR).


Update on Application Trends


The trends highlighted by UK NARIC last year seem to be continuing.

The latest figures from UK NARIC and UK NCP confirm that the trend for increased mobility of citizens from Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece and that the UK is experiencing an increase in the number of people expressing an interest in coming to the UK to work, practice or study.

UK NARIC Assessments
Country 2009 assmts 2009 rank 2010 assmts 2010 rank 2011 assmts 2011 rank 2012 assmts 2012 rank
Greece 118 46th 148 42nd 146 41st 305 29th
Italy 539 17th 593 18th 647 14th 785 11th
Portugal 210 36th 192 35th 225 34th 361 24th
Spain 541 16th 683 16th 766 12th 1305 6th
UK NCP Enquiries
Country 2009 enqs % of total 2010 enqs % of total 2011 enqs % of total 2012 enqs % of total
Greece  NA  NA 17 3.1% 8 2.9% 36 4.0%
Italy  NA  NA 42 8.6% 46 7.8% 82 10.0%
Portugal  NA  NA 15 3.5% 17 1.4% 33 4.4%
Spain  NA  NA 50 10.2% 81 13.7% 200 24.5%

Figures for 2009 for UK NCP are unavailable.

The data from UK NARIC and UK NCP show that there have been significant increases in assessments and enquiries:

Increases
Country UK NARIC% change2009 – 12 UK NCP% change2010 – 12
Greece + 158% + 112%
Italy + 45% + 95%
Portugal + 72% + 120%
Spain + 141% + 300%

The increases experienced by these countries far outstrips the performance of any other countries in the region.

Based on figures from 2009, 2010 and 2011 we have been able to model the demand for UK NARIC assessments in 2013.  The figures below are based on real application figures for the first quarter of 2013:

UK NARIC Assessments
Country Jan 2013 Feb 2013 Mar 2013 Total 2013 Total Projected 2013 Projected v 2012 Real
Greece 37 21 29 87 320 105%
Italy 102 84 95 281 1033 132%
Portugal 27 55 52 134 493 137%
Spain 157 138 191 486 1787 137%

Conclusions

Data from UK NARIC and UK NCP shows that there has been a considerable increase in the number of assessments and enquiries from Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.  While this data does not definitely mean that the individuals submitting these requests do actually come to the UK to work, study or practice, there is a definite link between them.

The increases from Spain and Greece have been particularly noticeable and these may well be linked to the economic difficulties that these countries have been experiencing.

Whatever the reason, it does mean that employers, universities, colleges and professional bodies have a wider pool of highly qualified and highly talented individuals available to choose from.

 

Tim Buttress, June 2013


UK NARIC helping with Tier 4 Highly Trusted Sponsor Compliance


Please note that since this article has been published immigration guidance has changed. Please see our post UK NARIC’s Visas and Nationality Service launches on 6 April which contains more up-to-date information.

 

 

Universities and colleges across the country need to comply with strict guidelines to bring students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to study in the UK.  There have been high profile suspensions of universities and colleges which have failed to comply with these guidelines resulting in significant damage to the reputation of the institution as well as having a meaningful effect on revenues.

There are no hard and fast rules on how education providers can ensure they can keep their Highly Trusted Sponsor (HTS) status, but it is apparent that demonstrating good practice in the recruitment of international students is an important step in the right direction.

Working with institutions and the Home Office UK NARIC has been able to identify the following areas as being important steps in being able to help institutions keep or achieve HTS and thereby achieve compliance.

Compliance is the Key

In order to bring students to the UK from outside the EEA universities and colleges need to have HTS status.  HTS is something that is “given” to education providers by the Home Office.  Having, and keeping, HTS is the main aim of all education institutions that engage in the recruitment of international students.

The best way to gain and maintain HTS is to be compliant with the Home Office’s sponsor requirements.

There are numerous criteria to which institutions have to comply and we feel that it is useful to highlight four areas:

  • Adopting best practice
  • Ability to follow a course
  • Counter fraud
  • English Language Proficiency

Adopting best practice

Education providers in the UK need to clearly demonstrate that they are using tried and tested processes to identify and evaluate potential students from outside the EEA.  The Home Office are not going to tell higher education institutions or colleges how they should market themselves or whether they are over-estimating the abilities of an individual; but they do want to see that there are policies and procedures and that the institution is following good practice.

Policies and Procedures

When it comes to evaluating applicants from outside the EEA institutions need to show that they are being consistent.  Universities and colleges need to be able to demonstrate that they have a system in place.  Using UK NARIC’s data is one way of doing this.  All UK NARIC’s members are entitled to a “Membership Certificate”.  This does not mean that UK NARIC accredits the institution (if you become aware of any institution claiming to be accredited by UK NARIC please let us know!), it simply confirms that the institutions is a member of UK NARIC and therefore has access to our data and services.  The Membership Certificate clearly shows that the institution is using “an independent authority” to help them evaluate the qualifications of international applicants.  If you are a member of UK NARIC and you would like to order a Membership Certificate please contact your Account Manager.

There are a number of other criteria that can be used to demonstrate good practice and we could fit many blog articles with them.  However, it is worth highlighting a couple more:

Staff development: Make sure that relevant staff are kept up-to-date with the latest developments in education internationally.  This can be done through Newsletters; there are a number of relevant newsletters available (QAA, UUK’s International Unit, AUA, UK NARIC).  Additionally, staff could attend training courses and conferences.  UK NARIC runs a number of professional development courses that have been designed for this purpose; additionally UCAS, UKCISA and many other organisations run courses and conferences throughout the year.  Finally, it is important to keep up-to-date with immigration policy; UK NARIC is now running events that are specifically design to help higher education professionals to do this.

Admissions Policy: An Admissions Policy should set out the way in which an institution evaluates applicants.  It should be readily available and it should provide information on the sources of information staff should use to make decisions.  Which sources of information does your institution use: internal databases? UK NARIC? Any other sources?  These should all be listed.  Additionally, if your institution has particular policies on an institution, country or region this should be detailed in the Policy.  The Policy should cover how you deal with Agents and what relationship you have with Agents.

Ability to follow a course

Under Tier 4 institutions should only issue a CAS once they are satisfied that a student both intends and is able to follow the course of study concerned.

The key point here is being able to assess an individual’s ability.

This can be done through the applicant’s previous qualifications, their performance in an admissions test or through interview.  If an institution is using previous qualifications to assess an applicant’s suitability, then they need to “confirm any qualifications the student already has which make them suitable for the course” on the CAS, i.e. use UK NARIC’s data.

Assessing a student’s suitability is very important.  It is the way in which institutions can be sure they have a committed student; but how can institutions be sure that the qualifications are genuine?

Counter fraud

We have covered education fraud in another article in this blog, and it is important that higher and further education institutions develop systems and processes to combat education fraud (in fact it should be covered in the Admissions Policy!).

The Home Office’s view on fraud is:

“We would encourage Sponsors to take all reasonable steps to verify the authenticity of a document; it is in the Sponsor’s interests to do so

Rooting out the non bona fide applications before issuing a CAS would save them from paying a CAS fee for a student who won’t enter the UK.

If an institution repeatedly sponsors applicants with non bona fide documents it may affect their Sponsor rating and could ultimately lead to their removal from the register.”

Therefore, it is vitally important that institutions wishing to gain or maintain HTS have a way of finding out whether a qualification is bogus.  Members of UK NARIC are able to use the Counter Fraud Service which will provide members with the knowledge needed to be able to make better judgments about whether a qualification is legitimate.  There is also the Degrees of Deception publication and a training course.

English Language Proficiency

There have been examples of when students have used bogus English language qualifications to enter the UK. The Home Office has established criteria for those wishing to study in the UK. There are a number of different ways in which applicants can show that they meet the different levels that have been specified, please refer to the Tier 4 guidance policy.

Tim Buttress, June 2013

 

 

Please check the Home Office website to ensure that you have the most up-to-date information.