Harmonising Approaches to Professional Higher Education in Europe

Methods of curriculum development

Methods of Curriculum Development refer to the integration refer to the process of design and development of learning outcomes, curricula and methods of learning & assessment. The core criterion for them in PHE, is that curricula are developed by academia in collaboration with stakeholders in particular from the world of work, taking into account the future needs of the practice and context of employment.

The following are best practice examples of implementation of this criterion:

Joint academic and professional efforts for a new bachelor of finance (PHE) in Denmark

In 2006 the report ‘Analysis of skill needs and training provision within the financial markets’ (Danish: Analyse af kompetencebehov og uddannelsesudbud inden for de finansielle markeder) was published and recommended to the Danish Ministry of Education to develop a professional bachelor of finance (EQF 6) in the upcoming years. Subsequently several representatives from the sector actively participated in a working group of the Danish Ministry of Education in December of the same year.

The development process of the new programme was chaired by the Ministry and has been guided and coordinated by the University College of Northern Denmark who received a Research & Development grant from the Ministry, but the industries have been closely involved on the drawing board through  surveys and face to face interviews.

The proposals and recommendations of the finance sector has had a major impact on the structure of the programme as well as on the academic content. This way the new professional bachelor has a strong correlation with the competency requirements demanded in the sector and is supported by the Financial Sector Education Policy Committee. The group represents the Danish Employee Association of employees in the insurance sector, the National Association of the Financial Sector Employers, the Financial Services Union, bankers, Mortgage Banks and Insurance Association, and Co-ordination Group for higher financial education. Furthermore the Housing Associations, Danish Estate Agents, the Property Federation Denmark and theAssociation of Registered Accountants are in favour of the new programme.

Today there are approximately 490 admitted students to the programme which is offered by 4 Danish institutions.

Proposals from professional associations kick start curriculum development at Tallinn University of Applied Sciences

Author: Anne Kraav, Vice-Rector for Development, TTK University of Applied Sciences

Feedback from the labour market is received on regular terms through the university’s Advisory Board, annual Curriculum Councils, members of Diploma Theses Evaluation Committees and other events (professional field meetings, seminars, etc.) as well as through the frequent communication with the employers by TTK UAS employees who are members in professional associations and the Estonian Qualifications Authority that hold regular meetings and other events that provide opportunities to discuss the needs of the labour market.

Furthermore input is gathered from external members of Curriculum Councils and Diploma Theses Evaluation Committees – at least 50% are external members, mainly from the world of work –  to address the needs of the labour market.The launch of a potential new curriculum and planning a new specialisation at TTK is based on written proposals and recommendations from professional associations, members of the TTK UAS Advisory Board and partner enterprises. For example, electrical engineering labour market organisations expressed the need for electrical engineering education in Estonia on EQF level 6. They initiated the launch the new curriculum in 2012 in collaboration with the PHE institution.

Curriculum Councils operate as standing committees coordinating the development, modification and analyses of curricula. The Council comprises at least two external representatives of professional associations or employers in addition to the Dean, the Head of Chair and at least one student representative.

TTK University of Applied Sciences (TTK UAS)

TTK University of Applied Sciences is the largest university of applied sciences in Estonia with currently 2700 registered students and 5 faculties. TTK UAS is a public professional higher education institution offering competitive education in the fields of engineering, production, technology, architecture and construction.13 study programmes at EQF level 6 last 4-years (240 ECTS) are provided for full-time learners, distance learners and in-service training courses in the Open University.

Understanding career paths and future needs of employment – A national study on PHE graduates in France

Author: Stéphane Lauwick, Vice-President (International Relations), Association of IUT Directors

Each PHE institution has to setup a survey of its graduates through its Observatory of Student Life (OVE). The network of IUTs has decided to design and run its own centralised graduate survey by specialist researchers from the partner universities and the French Centre for Research on Qualification[2]. The Enquête sur le devenir des diplômés de DUT is a survey of all IUT graduates 30 months after finishing their degree. Graduates are invited by their former institute.

Nearly 50,000 graduates are surveyed each year from 110 IUTs in 600+ study departments.  They answer 45 questions about professional or academic endeavours undertaken in the preceding 30 months: school, further study programmes, results, type of employment, employer, salary, etc. The IUT network has been able to obtain partial Ministerial funding for the survey implementation, analysis and dissemination. The 2,5 year time scale and the wealth of information gathered enables the IUT network, its QA organisation and the Ministry of HE to get a clear view of career paths after graduation from professional education.

An online tool makes it easy for each stakeholder (IUT administrations, universities, QA body, course designers, professional partners, etc.) to assess its graduates and its activity. Importantly, the results can be used for communication to secondary school leavers and are of great importance for students during their first phases of the work on Professional and Personal Projects.

Quality assurance of curricula and learning outcomes at French PHE – Legal obligation to involve the world of work

Author: Stéphane Lauwick, Vice-President (International Relations), Association of IUT Directors

Licence professionnelle are professional bachelor programmes at EQF Level 6. Those highly work-oriented programmes are offered by Instituts universitaires de technologie (IUT) within generally academic institutions. French universities are autonomous in organising their own quality assurance system, and professional bachelors are required by law to setup a dedicated body, the Advisory Committee called Conseil de perfectionnement. Hence, these programmes have the opportunity and obligation of crafting their own quality development and giving professionals a say in its organisation[3]. Advisory committees comprise representatives of the academics involved in the programme, professionals (who might or might not teach) and students.


Table 1 Examples of Advisory committee organisation

Depending on the programme, the Advisory Committee will meet once or several times a year to validate the teaching and learning programme, examine the students’ progress and propose remedies to any difficulty. Further tasks can entail:

  • the validation of the work experience programme (company placement, dual education scheme, etc.) given to each student;
  • the validation of the projects assigned to learners by partner companies; and
  • the organisation of trainings for tutors from the world of work.

Curriculum development in Portuguese health schools

Authors: Joaquim Mourato, President of Polytechnic Institute of Portalegre, Portuguese Polytechnics Coordinating Council (CCISP) & Armando Pires, Head of International Affairs / Full Professor at Polytechnic Institute of Setúbal, CCISP & José Miguel Nunes Pereira, Adviser, CCISP

In Portuguese PHE, classes mostly have a practical nature or combine practice and theory, the latter focusing on creative and scientific capabilities.

Most institutions try to involve the stakeholder in the curricula creation. For example, at the Health School of the Polytechnic of Viseu, programme curricula are developed and reviewed by a steering committee of teachers, students and other relevant stakeholders and need approval by the technical-scientific and the pedagogical board. When revising a study programme, the contributions and suggestions of partner companies are taken into account to gain from the experience and vision of the world of work for curriculum development.

In Portuguese health schools, professionals are part of the team of educators and schools hold meetings with different professionals to establish bridges with the best practices in the world of work. When revising or developing curricula for programmes and courses, schools also take the specific professional competencies into consideration as previously defined by professional associations.

Portuguese health schools

In Portugal, health schools are integrated in the polytechnic higher education subsystem. The vast majority of health schools are integrated in public Polytechnic Institutes and Universities, 17 schools overall (three schools are not integrated). These offer programmes on EQF level 6 and 7
[1] On the other hand, the EQF level 5 professional diplomas (DUT) at IUTs have a nationally organised quality assurance system

[2] Cereq is a research network which conducts studies on employability and current trends in certifications and competencies.

[3] On the other hand, the EQF level 5 professional diplomas (DUT) at IUTs have a nationally organised quality assurance system


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