What is it?

The European Union helps to develop tools which make it easier to understand the working of higher education systems in the EU countries and so to make it easier for people to move from one country to another to study.

Why is it needed?

Greater transparency makes it easier for students and researchers to choose where to study and work. For institutions, offering more accessible and comparable information helps them to better position themselves and improve their development strategies, quality and performances. More transparency also supports policy-makers in their strategic choices on the reform of higher education systems.

What has been done so far?

The European Union supports a series of practical tools to enhance transparency in higher education. These include:

  • The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS), designed to make it easier for students to move between different countries;
  • The Diploma Supplement (with the Council of Europe and UNESCO), providing a standardised description of the nature, level, context, content and status of the studies completed by its holder;
  • The ENIC-NARIC network (with the Council of Europe and UNESCO), supporting the recognition of diplomas and periods of study undertaken in other countries. 

In addition, the European Union is supporting the development of:

  • U-Multirank (UMR) an online tool for comparing the performance of higher education institutions, using a multidimensional and user-driven approach to international ranking of institutions. UMR compares their performances in (1) teaching and learning, (2) research, (3) knowledge transfer, (4) international orientation and (5) regional engagement.
  • European Tertiary Education Register (ETER) is a database collecting information on Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Europe, concerning their basic characteristics and geographical position, educational activities, staff, finances and research activities.
  • The Knowledge Hub for Higher Education, which is being established in cooperation with the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, aims at improving the effectiveness of these data tools (such as UMR and ETER) to produce research and analyses that can influence policy reform and modernisation of higher education.