Policy brief: Micro-credentials

On Friday 10 December, the European Commission published its Proposal for a Council Recommendation on a European approach to micro-credentials for life-long learning and employability. The document proposes a common definition, standard descriptor elements and key principles for design and issuance. The proposal will now be discussed by EU member states and a final version adopted by the Council.

What is relevant for QA agencies?
The recommendation proposes a common definition for micro-credentials that specifies that ‘[Micro-credentials] are underpinned by quality assurance following agreed standards in the relevant sector or area of activity’. ENQA welcomes that no separate or additional approach to quality assurance for micro-credentials is proposed and that members states can approach this matter in a way that makes sense within their own context. However, ENQA highlights that there are many practical challenges in the implementation of quality assurance of micro-credentials within individual higher education systems, and even more so when it comes to quality assurance of micro-credentials offered by non-higher education institutions and well as in informal and non-formal learning settings.

ENQA welcomes that the context to the proposal recognises the many other initiatives related to micro-credentials that are ongoing within and beyond the EU and calls on the European Commission to continue its dialogue with higher education stakeholder organisations and the working structures of the EHEA to ensure synergies and compatibility between definitions and approaches.

ENQA encourages its members to engage in dialogue with appropriate national authorities to ensure the implications for quality assurance frameworks and agencies are fully considered in discussions about the proposal.

How is ENQA working on this topic?
In order to support quality assurance agencies in addressing the topic of micro-credentials, ENQA is currently running a working group that aims to produce guidance on key considerations for the quality assurance of micro-credentials, including: a mapping of QA approaches for micro-credentials across EHEA; specific expectations for the quality assurance of micro-credentials; and a statement of applicability of the ESG for quality assurance of micro-credentials. To prepare these outcomes, a survey will be sent to the ENQA membership in late January so please do take the time to respond in order to ensure that the evidence used is fully representative.

ENQA is also a partner in the Microbol project, which explored the applicability of the existing Bologna Process tools (QA, qualifications frameworks and ECTS, and recognition). Resources related to the project are available here.

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