SMARTT participated in the II Forum of Universities for the Future of Europe in Barcelona
SMARTT actively participated in the II Forum of European Alliances held on 14-15 September 2023 in Barcelona during the Spanish Presidency of the European Council. Specifically, Nadia Fernández de Pinedo, the project coordinator for SMARTT and Professor at the Autonomous University of Madrid, was actively involved in Session I: “European Degree Label: Main Objectives and Added Value of Pilot Projects ED-AFFICHE, EDLab, FOCI, JEDI, ETIKETA, SMARTT”. The session focused on outcomes and addressing challenges encountered by all pilots involved. The primary topics of discussion revolved around the value of the European Degree Label (EDL), the significance of ensuring quality through a precise methodological approach, and the issuance of the label itself.
Pr. Dr Nadia Fernández de Pinedo, mentioned that in the initial six months of its involvement, Smartt developed a dedicated methodology and a three-step working process. This process commenced with desk-work activities, including a thorough literature review, document analysis, and pre-testing within the EUROSUD framework. Subsequently, it involved breaking down the 20 criteria into four distinct clusters, each requiring in-depth analysis. This analytical process was greatly aided by Smartt's expert groups and stakeholder engagement, each criterion being equipped with its own set of indicators to support the validation process. These indicators predominantly adopted a quantitative perspective, emphasizing process-oriented measures over outcome-based ones. Data collection in this initial pilot phase encompassed surveys, questionnaires, as well as the facilitation of focus groups, interviews, and round table discussions with various stakeholders. Furthermore, the SMARTT coordinator emphasized that “the outcomes of this first phase were recently presented at an open event held at University of Bucharest, attended by Smartt partners, representatives from DG EAC, ministries, and relevant agencies”. In addition to the label's design, whether it be digital, physical, or a combination of both, Smartt explored three distinct scenarios for the EDL within the context of the label. It is crucial to determine the label's intended audience and purpose, whether it primarily benefits students, the diploma itself, the educational program, or a combination thereof.
Key questions raised included the responsible party for upholding and maintaining the label and which elements take precedence – program quality, student achievements, or overall diploma recognition. Smartt has diligently worked on these scenarios:
- The label is attached to diplomas and issued by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), with the label being bestowed upon the student.
- The label is attached to diplomas but issued by national bodies, with the label also granted to the student.
- The label is associated with educational programs and listed in a European registry for European Degree Programs, collaborating closely with member states and national accreditation agencies. The label is attributed to the program itself.
While each scenario presents its own set of advantages and disadvantages, SMARTT favors the third option. This approach offers enhanced transparency but necessitates strong cooperation among member states, agencies, ministries, and HEIs.
In summary, the session underscored the importance of increased collaboration among various stakeholders – the European Commission, national governments, quality agencies, the academic community, and stakeholders. A collective effort is essential to shape a promising future, where robust results can be achieved by each entity playing its role effectively.
The SMARTT project team is working together with competent stakeholders to shape the future of European Label Degree in order to contribute to the growth of the European Higher Education Area and the opening of new perspectives for the students and the academic community.
SMARTT is an innovative project aiming at analysing, testing, and piloting the new European Degree label criteria, improving the quality, and increasing the transferability of future developments of European Degrees across Europe and beyond. SMARTT is formed by the CIVIS - Europe’s Civic University Alliance in cooperation with the European Universities Alliances EUTOPIA, NEUROTECHEU, and UNITA, alongside higher education institutions, national and regional stakeholders and relevant actors. Based on significant experience in designing and delivering joint and multiple degree programmes at transnational level, the higher education institutions involved in the SMARTT project propose to expand this experience and draw, based on clear methodologies and thorough analyses, recommendations and proposals both for the European Commission and the member states, to support the development of a European Approach for designing and implementing Joint European Degrees in the future. The consortium partners possess an extensive history of successful international collaboration and have consistently played a leading role in the co-development of the European Degree policy initiative since its inception. For further information, please visit the SMARTT project website.