Boosting European education: EU's plan for a European diploma explained

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  • books and diploma
Published on 2024-04-17 at 08:00 by Asaël Häzaq
To stand out on the international job market and further strengthen the position of the European Union, the European Commission announced the creation of a European diploma. What does this mean for potential international students in Europe?

The European diploma concept explained

On March 27, 2024, the European Commission adopted a series of measures to promote the education systems of European Union (EU) member states. While international student mobility has increased since the reopening of borders, a battle is raging between the EU and other countries favored by international students, led by Canada and the United States. Eventually, these support measures will lead to the creation of a European diploma.

The European Commission's plan is based on two pillars: recognition of a high-quality European higher education system and ensuring stable and sustainable career opportunities in higher education.

The proposed European diploma will not replace any existing diploma. Instead, it's all about creating a new diploma that will be awarded at the end of a specific course. The European Commission speaks of transnational programs (bachelor's, master's, doctorate) that would be automatically recognized in all EU countries. Member states will agree on the programs and criteria for creating the diploma. A group of European universities will participate in the awarding of the diploma on a voluntary basis.

What's the purpose of a European diploma?

At a time when the EU, shaken on all sides, is anxiously awaiting the forthcoming European elections, the Commission wants to send out a strong signal. Originally conceived as a purely economic entity, the European Union has evolved into a social and cultural union. By creating this new diploma, the Commission wants to remind people that there is a European identity. Belonging to the EU must be defended by all Member States and lived in every country at every level. Education, as a key place for the transmission of knowledge, is the ideal place to promote European identity.

Much more than a symbol, this new diploma also aims to bring the universities of the Member States closer together, both academically and in terms of research. The economic aspect is not far behind. Cooperation between Member States will enable them to better train tomorrow's European talent.

Why would students go to another continent when the knowledge and education they seek are in the EU? Overall, the European diploma is designed to speed up student mobility within the EU. This "universal diploma" should make European universities more attractive. With their transdisciplinary knowledge, new European graduates will also be more attractive in the European labor market, as they will be more in line with employers' expectations. This should make recruitment way easier, thus responding to talent shortage issues.

How will the EC create a European diploma?

Dealing with the different education systems in the EU is not an easy task.

The European Commission has opted for two approaches:

  • The first approach is to award a "European preparatory label". This would not be a diploma, but a certificate labeling the diploma obtained as "European". This label would be awarded to university courses that meet criteria defined in advance by the Commission.
  • The second approach is to create a European diploma. This diploma would be awarded by the universities of several countries or by a European representative appointed by the universities (a European representative position would be created specifically for this purpose).

The European Commission stresses the importance of developing transnational higher education. The EU continues to face labor shortages in key economic sectors. One of the Commission's priorities is to promote and train European workers and make them attractive in the European labor market. The Commission will increase its support to the Erasmus+ program and other European bodies working to promote international student mobility and knowledge sharing at the European level.