Mercoledì, 17 Aprile 2024
The initiative

Here comes the European degree: how it works

The EU Commission's proposal could open the door to new "super-universities"

The first European degree could soon become a reality. The EU Commission has presented a proposal that includes, among other things, the possibility for universities from different European countries to establish joint courses (or to join forces) and issue degrees, master's, and doctoral degrees automatically valid in all 27 Member States.

Currently, degrees are only automatically recognised at the national level. However, when moving from one EU country to another for study (e.g., a master's program) or work reasons, individuals often face bureaucratic hurdles to validate their degree, causing problems for graduates. An EU academic title, the Commission notes in a statement, "would reduce bureaucracy and allow higher education institutions from different countries to cooperate cross-border and create joint programs." Furthermore, it would encourage "mobility for learning within the EU," enhance "students' cross-disciplinary skills," help "meet labor market demand and make graduates more attractive to future employers, while attracting students from around the world and boosting European competitiveness," Brussels adds.

The proposal, part of a package of three initiatives on higher education, may encounter resistance. Education is currently the competence of individual EU Member States, and many are wary of EU interference in this area. However, the main concern may lie in the potential creation of mega-European universities at the expense of smaller national universities.

The Commission's idea is for European degrees to be issued either by a network of universities from different EU countries or by a new "European legal entity" established by multiple universities. In the former case, it would be a simple collaboration among universities that remain autonomous (as is already the case for some degrees). In the latter case, it would open the door to the emergence of true transnational mega-universities.

Brussels is well aware of the risks associated with this second option, which is why it has presented two alternatives for governments and the EU Parliament to consider in the coming months. Additionally, the Commission foresees a road map to establish European degrees with a series of intermediate steps. The first step involves launching "European degree path projects" under the Erasmus+ program in 2025 to provide financial incentives to Member States.

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Here comes the European degree: how it works

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