Do students enrolled in higher education around Europe develop the competences they need? Are study programmes delivering their promises? Can we learn to compare student’s achievements in different countries in a meaningful way?
The EU funded project, called CALOHEE, intends to find the answers to these questions by developing the infrastructure that will eventually make it possible to test bachelor and master students’ performance Europe-wide across a range of fields in a way that satisfies the needs of the various stakeholders in the European higher education community.
The project started in January 2016 and first results are expected in spring 2017. The project will initially cover five subject areas, representing five significant academic domains: Engineering (Civil Engineering), Health Care (Nursing), Humanities (History), Natural Sciences (Physics) and Social Sciences (Education). After this initial stage, the outcomes can be used to examine many other degree programmes as well.
The assessment frameworks (or test blueprints) to be developed in the five fields will use the same methodology, but they will be tailored to the characteristics of each domain or subject area, taking into account the diversity of missions, orientations and profiles of universities in Europe and their various degree programmes.
These frameworks will facilitate the development of the tests which will allow university management, academics and students to understand whether students are achieving internationally defined levels of competences which prepare them for their role in society in terms of personal development, citizenship and employability, while meeting agreed academic standards. The goal of the first phase of the project is to see if it is possible to design tests that will provide evidenced-based tools to measure success and support universities in their efforts at continuous improvement.
CALOHEE uses a bottom-up approach in order to give the academic community a central position in the further implementation of the process of modernisation of higher education in Europe. It builds on the work already carried out in the framework of the European Higher Education Area (Bologna Process) and the worldwide activities associated with TUNING.
The consortium in charge of the project is led by the International TUNING Academy with technical support and consultation provided by non-profit Educational Testing Service (ETS) (based in Princeton, New Jersey, USA). An impressive array of participants is involved, including prestigious universities, university associations and other organisations active at European, national and grassroots level, such as the student unions. The project is co-financed by the European Commission in the framework of the Erasmus+ programme.
Commissioner Tibor Navracsics, responsible for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said: “Boosting economic growth and job creation in Europe is the top political priority of this Commission. We will only succeed in this if we help ensure that our education institutions equip people with the skills needed in a dynamic, globalised economy. That is why I am very much looking forward to the results of this study funded under our Erasmus+ programme. We need more reliable data on how higher education institutions across Europe perform in order to raise standards – and I particularly welcome the focus on competences related to employability.”