ED-AFFICHE Mid-term meeting: Advancing the European Degree Label

Group Photo of the 45+ participants at the ED-AFFICHE Mid Term meeting
Fri, 11/24/2023 - 15:15

The ED-AFFICHE Mid-Term Meeting, held in Brussels on 22 November 2023, brought together representatives of the ED-AFFICHE European Universities Alliances, Quality Assurance, European Commission and ministries representatives and key stakeholders to provide an update on key aspects of the European Degree Label initiative. Discussions ranged from the design of the label to the analysis of legal barriers and insights from key stakeholders such as the European Commission, quality assurance agencies and students. 

Laura Colò, ED AFFICHE Project Officer, emphasised the objectives of the meeting, attended by more than 100 participants (onsite and online): to learn more about the other European Degree Label pilots and key stakeholders and to gather recommendations for the European Commission. Both objectives were successfully achieved by the end of the event. 

The European Degree Label and Legal Barrier Analyses 

Lenka Rovná, Charles University Rector's Representative at 4EU+, highlighted the progress made in the project's early stages. She emphasized the need to build mutual trust and outlined the 4EU+’s experience and vision of building a comprehensive research-intensive European University. Key efforts were mentioned, including building bridges for teamwork and creating an environment for collaboration especially in the development of Joint Degree programs 

The representative of the European Commission, Yann-Maël Bideau, Policy Officer at DG EAC, discussed the Commission's priority to establish a blueprint for a future Joint European Degree, considering quality assurance, attractiveness, and benefits. Mr. Bideau stressed the unique cooperation between European Universities Alliances and the significance of Joint Programs in enhancing mobility and cooperation. 

Challenges and Solutions 

Gloria Quarantani, Chair of ESN's Committee for Education, Erasmus Student Network, presented students' insights into the challenges and barriers to equal opportunities in international education and mobility. She emphasized the need for inclusiveness and outlined major barriers such as initial mobility costs and loss of income abroad, highlighting the importance of pre-departure support. 

Mirko Varano, Senior Advisor International Projects at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, delved into the survey findings of ED-AFFICHE, highlighting funding-related issues, legal and regulatory barriers, and academic challenges. The presentation outlined the need for streamlining processes and defining criteria for Joint Programs while addressing the barriers to their implementation. 

ED-AFFICHE's Design of the European Degree Label 

Kurt Willems, ED-AFFICHE Project Coordinator and Chair of the Una Europa Working Group on the European Degree, presented the design of the European Degree Label. The discussion included the criteria, verification methods, and the distinction between the label as a qualification and a quality label. 

Panel Discussion on Label and Qualification 

A panel discussion featuring key stakeholders like Yann-Maël Bideau; Meritxell Chaves, CHARM-EU Secretary General; Antonella Forlino, EC2U Representative, Vice-Rector Internationalization, University of Pavia; Marta Jaworska-Oknińska, 4EU+ Educational Coordinator; Neringa Narbutiene, EU-CONEXUS Institutional Coordinator; and Blazhe Todorovski, Policy and Project Officer from EQAR (European Quality Assurance Register) explored the nature of the label and qualification. The discussion revolved around the European Commission's position on criteria for Joint Programs, the benefits of the label for directors of Joint Degrees, and the relationship between the European Degree Label and Erasmus Mundus. 

European Approach and Future Recommendations 

The panel also discussed the European Approach as a framework and its potential to expedite changes in legislation. The importance of collaboration across countries, the removal of obstacles, and the creation of EU funding for the label were emphasized. The need for a European Degree brand and a coordinated effort to eliminate barriers, such as fees, was highlighted. 

The ED-AFFICHE mid-term meeting provided a comprehensive overview of the progress, challenges, and future directions of the European Degree Label initiative. Stakeholders underscored the importance of collaboration, inclusiveness, and the continuous effort to build a robust European Degree Label that fosters trust, mobility, and cooperation among universities across the continent.