Such an improvement emerges as a priority, considering the following two aspects: on the one hand, the need to establish Erasmus Mundus consortia to draft joint programmes and to provide for the award of the corresponding double, multiple or joint qualifications. On the other, the need to spread knowledge about the specific rules of the EM Programme among credential evaluation centres, in order to let them assess the qualifications issued by each consortium at best.
The goals of the Bridge Project are:
The five partners participating in the Bridge Project work both as Erasmus Mundus National Structures and as NARIC Centres:
PNC – Italia (project coordinator)
Kunsill Malti ghall Kwalifiki – Malta (project partner)
Ministério da Educaçao e Ciência - Direcção-Geral do Ensino Superior – Portugal (project partner)
Dirección General de Política Universitaria - Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte – Spain (project partner)
The idea for the Bridge Project came after acknowledging that very often credential evaluation centres, such as the NARIC, ENIC and MERIC Centres, are not familiar with the specific elements of Erasmus Mundus joint courses and qualifications.
It was also observed that, in some EU countries, there only seem to be limited contact between the NSs and the NARIC Centres, because the two institutions are often run by different bodies. In other words, NSs have an in-depth knowledge of the EM Programme, while the NARIC Centres specialise in the different H.Ed. systems and in the evaluation of foreign qualifications, but they only rarely have the chance to share their knowledge and skills.
Looking at the situation outside the border of Europe, in the countries where there isn’t any Erasmus Mundus National Structure, we found very proactive credential evaluation centres: as in the case of the ENIC Centres (UNESCO European Region) and the MERIC ones (UNESCO Mediterranean Region). In fact, they both are potential evaluators of Erasmus Mundus qualifications, since EM students might also come from ENIC and MERIC countries.
These are the reasons why, it was crucial to involve in the project counterparts working both as EM National Structures and NARIC Centres, as the five partners of the BRIDGE project (Estonia, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain) actually do.
During the life of an Erasmus Mundus course three phases have been identified when issues related to recognition and to differences between H.Ed. systems arise:
- Programme creation: in this phase, it is necessary to consider the differences among various H.Ed. systems at international level;
- Student recruitment: students’ selection follows criteria based on the evaluation of their qualification and on the status of the awarding institution;
- Qualification award: when a double, multiple or joint degree is awarded and the Diploma Supplement is issued, it is necessary to comply with the different national regulations on joint programmes and joint degrees.
Considering the needs described above, the aims of the BRIDGE project are:
- to enhance the dialogue between the Network of Erasmus Mundus National Structures and the NARIC Centres;
- to create a long-lasting connection between EM National Structures and the NARIC, ENIC and MERIC Centres;
- to assess the ENIC and MERIC Centres’ level of knowledge about the Erasmus Mundus Programme and to study real cases of EM qualification evaluations carried out in the centres;
- to solve the critical aspects of the Programme Guide, in relation to recognition issues;
- to provide practical tools and useful suggestions to EM consortia in order to:
- create a sustainable consortium taking into account the different. national regulations on H.Ed;
- correctly evaluate student qualifications in the selection phase;
- present to potential students the recognition status of the final EM degree in a clear way;
- support credential evaluation centres, H.Ed. institutions, as well as employers to understand the features of EM courses, their quality and the precise value of the final qualification (both for academic and professional purposes);
- collect data about future employability of EM graduates.
The Bridge project is divided into the following actions:
Bridge Action 1 - Spreading knowledge about NARIC activities among Erasmus Mundus National Structures: in this work package, a questionnaire was sent to the EM National Structures. The purpose of the questionnaire was to assess the National Structures’ level of knowledge about the NARIC network and their relationship with NARIC Centres.
Bridge Action 2 - Spreading knowledge about the Erasmus Mundus Programme among NARIC Centres and assessing their involvement: in this work package, a questionnaire was sent to the NARIC Centres, in order to understand their level of knowledge about the Erasmus Mundus Programme, the connection between the two, as well as their relationship, their level of involvement in Erasmus Mundus and the practical methods applied to solve issues pertaining to the recognition of Erasmus Mundus qualifications.
Bridge Action 3 - Spreading knowledge about the Erasmus Mundus Programme among ENIC & MERIC Centres and assessing their involvement: in this work package, a questionnaire was sent to the ENIC and MERIC Centres to understand their level of knowledge of the Erasmus Mundus Programme, the level of their involvement in Erasmus Mundus and the practical methods applied to solve issues pertaining to the recognition of Erasmus Mundus qualifications.
Bridge Action 4 - Analysis of Erasmus Mundus case studies: in this working package, each National Structure involved in the project analysed one national case, selected among the existing Erasmus Mundus courses, with the purpose to assess and collect problems related to recognition issues emerging in the different phases in the life of an EM programme.
Bridge Action 5 - Study visits to ENIC and MERIC Centres: in this working package, study visits to the 5 ENIC and/or MERIC Centres was organised with the purpose to experience the methods applied for the recognition of joint degrees and to increase the centres’ awareness about the general elements of the Erasmus Mundus Programme in relation to recognition issues.
Bridge Action 6 - Handbook on good practices in the recognition process: in this final work package, the achieved results will be collected and a Handbook will be drafted with the results of the data analysis, containing:
- Information sources on higher education systems and recognised/accredited H.Ed. institutions;
- International information sources and documents used by the NARIC, ENIC and MERIC Centres to evaluate and recognise joint degrees;
- Recognition practices adopted by the NARIC, ENIC and MERIC Centres;
- Issues highlighted and solutions suggested on each recognition case study;
- Good practices on recognition procedures in the different phases in the life of an Erasmus Mundus programme.
Bridge Action 7 – Final joint meeting in Malta: the project will be closed during the final meeting in Malta with the participation of the EM National Structures and of the selected ENIC and NARIC Centres.