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.
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 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”.
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?
The International Projects team at UK NARIC recently participated alongside other international stakeholders in higher education, in an EU-funded study visit* to Poitiers, France on how student mobility increases employability and integration in the work place. Student mobility is widely accepted as a social and economic benefit whereby students gain valuable new social skills and learning approaches that make them more adaptable in the work place.
The visit focussed on aspects of the ‘Mobility Scoreboard’ recently developed in response to a call by Members States to remove obstacles to mobility such as:
- Information and guidance about mobility opportunities;
- Portability of student aid;
- Knowledge of foreign languages;
- Recognition of studies abroad (use of ECTS and Diploma Supplement); and
- Support for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The study visit explored some of these obstacles in the different education systems, discussing at depth the use of key mobility and recognition tools such as Erasmus / Erasmus +, Europass and the European Credit Transfer system for facilitating mobility. A visit to the Université de La Rochelle provided the group with information about the university’s internationalisation strategy, helping to facilitate study periods abroad for students and researchers. The strategy focuses on the ‘professionalisation’ of the university’s curriculum to teach students skills relevant for employment within their chosen programme such as languages, IT and business skills, developing over 150 partnerships with universities in Europe, the Asia-Pacific and the Americas, and helping students fund study periods abroad through university grants or funds raised by the community of La Rochelle.
For the International Projects team at UK NARIC, participation in the study visit facilitated a deeper understanding of the obstacles and best practices in student mobility and recognition across Europe. By establishing networks and building partnerships with participants from the study visit, we hope to work on future projects to ease the recognition for student mobility within Europe and internationally.
*Disclaimer: The content of this publication is the sole responsibility of the publisher and the European Commission is not liable for any use that may be made of the information.
 European Commission – IP/14/9 10/01/2014.
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.
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.