While the EHEA has contributed significantly to harmonisation of HE in Europe, the ‘Professional’ Higher Education sector is still in significant flux. Thus, e.g. ‘Fachhochschule’ are increasingly becoming Universities of applied Sciences while traditional universities are increasingly providing professionally orientated programmes. The wide variety of systems which now fall under the umbrella term of ‘Professional’ HE, makes it difficult to transnationally analyse this sector, hinders recognition of qualifications, and limits the ability of soft-policy tools to strengthen its growth.
To address this issue, EURASHE, together with a European consortium of 10 partners, launched the the HAPHE project – which will bring together a group of field experts, who, through a wide consultation with stakeholders from education, business and society, will harmonise approaches to professional higher education (predominantly at EQF level 6 and above) throughout Europe, by:
- Surveying the different approaches to PHE provision throughout EU-member states
- Setting out the defining characteristics of a ‘professional’ Higher Education programme
- Proposing a set of quality criteria which contribute towards the best-case fulfilment of those characteristics
- Collecting and sharing best practice on how institutions can adopt the criteria
- Suggesting indicators and quantification methodologies to allow comparison of PHE in the context of overall HE and LLL provision.
The involvement of stakeholders in all stages of the project (research, design, valorisation), will ensure the consortium’s ability to provide sustainable results by creating a critical mass of consensus, to allow the de-facto adoption of the proposals as a standard.
By strengthening the PHE sector, and improving the transparency of PHE provision, the project will enhance employability of European HE as a whole, contribute towards a more cohesive Higher Education Area, and support the modernisation of European HEIs, through encouragement of increasing responsiveness to enterprise and society.