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EACEA National Policies Platform


Automatic recognition of qualifications: the right of holders of a qualification of a certain level  issued by one country to be considered for entry to a higher education programme at the next level in another country, without having to go through any separate recognition procedure. This does not prejudice the right of a higher education institution or the competent authorities to set specific evaluation and admission criteria for a specific programme. Neither does it prejudice the right to check, if the qualification is authentic. See Council Recommendation of 26 November 2018 on promoting automatic mutual recognition of higher education and upper secondary education and training qualifications and the outcomes of learning periods abroad.

Comprehensive monitoring: monitoring isthe process of systematic data gathering, analysis and use of information by top-level authorities to inform policy. Systematic monitoring must include mechanisms of cross-institutional data gathering and allow cross-institutional data comparability. Comprehensive monitoring of disadvantaged learners in mobility programmes refers to monitoring the participation of disadvantaged learners across all mobility programmes.

Compulsory foreign language teaching: a foreign language is compulsory when it is taught as one of the compulsory subjects in the curriculum laid down by top-level education authorities. All pupils must study this subject. The total length of compulsory foreign language teaching is calculated from the beginning of pre-primary education until the end of upper secondary education (ISCED 0 to 3). In most countries, this period goes beyond the end of compulsory education. In these cases, foreign language teaching is nevertheless regarded as ‘compulsory’ if it is required for all participating pupils.

Credit mobility: a short period of tertiary education and/or study-related traineeship abroad, within the framework of a tertiary education programme at a ‘home institution’, usually for gaining academic credits (i.e. credits that will be recognised in the home institution).

Credit transfer: ‘the process of having credits awarded in one context (programme, institution) recognised in another formal context for the purpose of obtaining a qualification. Credits awarded to students in one programme may be transferred from an institution to be accumulated in another programme offered by the same or another institution. Credit transfer is the key to successful mobility. Institutions, faculties, departments may make agreements which guarantee automatic recognition and transfer of credits’ (see ECTS Users' Guide).

Degree mobility: whole-programme mobility where the student physically moves abroad for an entire degree course leading to a tertiary-level qualification.

Disadvantaged learners: learners who have hindrances to learning or performing well at school because of unfavourable circumstances beyond their control. These include financial and social hardships as well as difficulties arising from disabilities. These groups are often under-represented in higher education.

Domestic student support measures: financial support (grants and loans) provided to students by authorities in the home country.

ECTS supporting documents: ‘the use of ECTS credits is facilitated and quality enhanced by the supporting documents. These are the Course Catalogue, Learning Agreement, Transcript of Records, and Work Placement Certificate’ (see ECTS Users' Guide).

European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS): ‘a learner-centred system for credit accumulation and transfer, based on the principle of transparency of the learning, teaching and assessment processes. Its objective is to facilitate the planning, delivery and evaluation of study programmes and student mobility by recognising learning achievements and qualifications and periods of learning’ (see ECTS Users' Guide).

European Higher Education Area (EHEA): officially launched during the Budapest-Vienna Ministerial Conference in 2010 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Bologna Declaration, the EHEA was the culmination of a decade of work to implement the Bologna Process. This process was intended to ensure more comparable, compatible and coherent systems of higher education in Europe. It currently covers 48 states. For more information, visit:

European Standards and Guidelines: refers to the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG) adopted by the Ministers responsible for higher education in the European Higher Education Area in May 2015.

External quality assurance: the process of evaluation or audit of a higher education programme or institution undertaken by a specialised body outside the institution. Typically the body may be a quality assurance or accreditation agency, or an ad hoc panel of experts and peers constituted by the responsible Ministry. The evaluation will involve the collection of data, information and evidence for assessment against agreed standards.

Foreign language: a language viewed as 'foreign' (or modern) in the curriculum laid down by top-level education authorities. This definition is an educationally based one and unrelated to the political status of languages. Thus certain languages regarded as regional or minority languages from a political perspective may be included in the curriculum as foreign languages. In the same way, certain ancient languages may be considered foreign languages in certain curricula.

Grade distribution tables: ‘show how the existing national or institutional scale is being used in the institution – whether in open access or selective systems – and allow for comparison with the statistical distribution of grades in a parallel reference group of another institution. They represent the statistical distribution of positive grades (pass and above) awarded in each field of study in a specific institution’ (see ECTS Users' Guide).

Grant: public financial support that does not need to be paid back. Such financial support can be targeted (available only for a specific target group) or mainstream (available to all or the majority of students).

Higher education institution: any institution providing services in the field of higher education, as defined by national law. This includes private and public higher education institutions, irrespective of the composition of funding and management bodies.

Incoming mobility: see Outward mobility.

Initiative: concrete policy measure, adopted by the top-level authority, to implement a strategy or explore a policy domain.

Large-scale initiatives: are initiatives that operate throughout the whole education system or a significant geographical area rather than being restricted to a particular institution or a geographical location.

Learning outcomes: ‘statements of what the individual knows, understands and is able to do on completion of a learning process, which are defined in terms of knowledge, skills and competences. The achievement of learning outcomes has to be assessed through procedures based on clear and transparent criteria. Learning outcomes are attributed to individual educational components and to programmes as a whole. They are also used in European and national qualifications frameworks to describe the level of the individual qualification’(see ECTS Users' Guide).

Lisbon Recognition Convention (LRC): the Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region was developed by the Council of Europe and UNESCO and adopted in 1997 in Lisbon. It aims to ensure that holders of a qualification from one European country can have that qualification recognised in another.

Loan: repayable financial aid.Student loan models differ greatly between countries such as in their repayment plans, the level of subsidy, the expenses covered, eligibility rules, etc. A student loan is subsidised when the government bears a part of the costs. This subsidy can take the form of a government guarantee which covers the risk of default and loss. Private loans with no public guarantee are not considered in this report.

Multipliers: individuals who have had a learning experience abroad or who have been indirectly involved in one (teachers, families, etc.) and can inspire and motivate other individuals to also undertake such experiences.

Outward mobility: the process whereby students move out of their home country in order to study abroad.

Personalised services:information and guidance provided to individuals on a one-to-one basis addressing the specific needs of the individual. Personalised services can be provided through counselling services with dedicated staff both face-to-face and online.

Portability restrictions: additional requirements implying that grants and loans are portable only under certain conditions such as:

  • within certain countries (e.g. portability within the European Economic Area only – not the whole EHEA);
  • within a specific time limit;
  • for certain study programmes (e.g. only programmes not available in the home system);
  • for specific exchange programmes (e.g. portability limited to recognised schemes such as Erasmus+).

Portability: the possibility to take abroad the support available to students in their home country (within EHEA) for credit or degree mobility.

Quantitative objectives/targets: numerical targets set by top-level authorities for the proportion of students (or certain categories of students) participating in learning mobility programmes.

Top-level authority: the highest level of authority with responsibility for education in a given country, usually located at national (state) level. However, for Belgium, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom, the Communautés, Länder, Comunidades Autónomas and the devolved administrations respectively are either wholly responsible or share responsibilities with the state level for all or most areas relating to education. Therefore, these administrations are considered as the top-level authority for the areas where they hold the responsibility, while for those areas for which they share the responsibility with the national (state) level, both are considered to be top-level authorities.

Top-level strategy/action plan: official policy documents on an important policy area usually issued by top-level authorities. They set out the specific objectives to be met and/or the detailed steps or actions to be taken within a given timeframe in order to reach a desired goal.