Harmonising Approaches to Professional Higher Education in Europe

Definition and Characteristics of Professional Higher Education

The higher education landscape throughout Europe has changed
dramatically over the past few decades. In order to respond to
societal, technological and cultural developments higher education
has moved from being elite to mass to universal. It has substantialy
diversified in terms of access of different age cohorts studying
indifferent ways at a variety of levels of advancement and a variety
of institutions. Yet, the purposes of higher education still remain
largely those defined by the Council of Europe’s ‘four purposes’ of
higher education: “preparation for sustainable employment, personal
development, preparing students for active citizenship, and creating
a broad advanced knowledge base and stimulating research and
innovation“ .

There has appeared a diversity of different but equally recognised
approaches to the way in which these tenets of the Council of Europe’s
‘four purposes’ are implemented by different institutions providing a
wide range of institutional missions, values, objectives and provisions
in terms of curriculum design and delivery, levels of qualifications,
research, development and community engagement. More emphasis
is placed towards responsiveness to the societal requirements,
employability characteristics amongst graduates, as well as enhancing
the role of higher education within the life-long learning concept and
affiliation with corresponding structures. In the recent period higher
education systems have witnessed blurring the borders amongst
formerly set types of higher education institutions. Despite the
diversity of approaches at every level of higher education, the issue
of quality remains central if all the different types of higher education
are to remain different but equal to the various stakeholders.

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Authors: HAPHE Consortium
Publication Date: 2014
Report Institution: EURASHE
Publication Type: : report

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