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Symposium 2012

Solution for Redefining Universities

The Challenge

There are two big trends in higher education: "individualization" and "massification." The former is important mainly in developed countries whereas the latter takes places mainly in developing countr ...

There are two big trends in higher education: "individualization" and "massification." The former is important mainly in developed countries whereas the latter takes places mainly in developing countries. Yet distinctions between the systems of developed and developing countries cannot be sharply drawn: on the one hand, outstanding students from developing countries want individualized education; and on the other hand, aspiring students from developed countries want good value for money (which means massification).

Governments should develop standardized certification of student learning outcomes at the individual course level, thus ensuring transferability and transparency of courses and modules on a global scale.

The obvious goal in times of globalized learning and working is "stackup degrees," which allow students to collect credits from different institutions and customize their own learning. Much accreditation is already carried out by the labor market—valuable courses are rewarded by better jobs. Other qualifications (for example, law or engineering) are certified by learned and professional societies. Much, perhaps most, third-level education is now undertaken for professional purposes—either to become more employable or to gain the skills to set up in business. Consequently, all these actors must play a role in making sure that suitable methods are found for accrediting learning—and ensuring that what is being accredited is actually valuable and transferable to other learning environments.

This implies a need for greater transparency both for students and employers at the most modular level possible on learning aims, pass rates and potential destinations (progression to other courses, institutions or jobs). Such trustworthy ways for learners to signal learning outcomes at all levels will also avoid wasteful "credentialing"—taking courses solely to be able to prove what they already know—and, at the same time, ensure that employability skills are not disregarded. Reaching these goals of “unbundling education” demands a joint effort to build up regional or international accreditation agencies.

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    Governments and other funding agencies need to build an evidence base on how online or blended learning and modularization affects learning, progression and drop-out rates.

    Governments and other funding agencies need to build an evidence base on how online or blended learning and modularization affects learning, progression and drop-out rates.

    Governments and other funding agencies need to build an evidence base on how online or blended learning and modularization affects learning, progression and drop-out rates.

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    Governments, higher-education institutions and scholarship providers need to experiment with new funding models for higher education to give access to quality education to students who can pay little or nothing—for ...

    Governments, higher-education institutions and scholarship providers need to experiment with new funding models for higher education to give access to quality education to students who can pay little ...

    Governments, higher-education institutions and scholarship providers need to experiment with new funding models for higher education to give access to quality education to students who can pay little or nothing—for example, by charging for certification, examination processing, learning support or online internships, rather than for content and its delivery.

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    Refocus institutional accreditation on criteria that really matter: efficient quality control and appropriate learning outcomes.

    Refocus institutional accreditation on criteria that really matter: efficient quality control and appropriate learning outcomes.

    Refocus institutional accreditation on criteria that really matter: efficient quality control and appropriate learning outcomes.

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    Governments should stimulate institutional diversity and make excellence beyond research visible, for example, through multidimensional rankings.

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    Governments should stimulate institutional diversity and make excellence beyond research visible, for example, through multidimensional rankings.

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