Micro-credential is an emerging term without a single definition, and it has not been widely used in higher education in Europe until recent years. Truth be told, many short-term learning programmes have met the basic requirements of being micro-credentials, but often appear by another name (e.g. continuous education).
The European Commission recently raised the concern of micro-credentials not having a clear definition, and how this affects the value, quality, recognition and transparency. Thus, in turn, limiting the trust, understanding and wider acceptance of them. Therefore, the Commission adopted a proposal for a Council recommendation to support building trust in micro-credentials across Europe.
Here are the four main recommendations on how we should define, design and implement micro-credentials.
‘Micro-credential’ refers to a record of the learning outcomes that a learner has acquired following a small volume of learning, e.g. a short course or training. It may be standalone or combined into larger credentials (modular) and should be part of flexible learning pathways.
One of the EU targets is that 60 % of all adults will participate in yearly training. Micro-credentials will play a key role in helping to achieve that target. They may also be used to foster inclusion and equal opportunities by providing more learning opportunities to a wider range of learners, including disadvantaged and vulnerable groups. They can also strengthen the role of HEIs in lifelong learning, while not replacing traditional qualifications.
Courses leading to micro-credentials should be designed to provide the learner with targeted specific knowledge, skills and competences that respond to societal, personal, cultural or labour market needs. They should be learner-centric and provide more flexible and modular learning opportunities for everyone to better respond to labour market needs through continuous reskilling and upskilling.
Micro-credentials can be designed and delivered by a variety of public and private providers in different learning settings (formal, non-formal or informal).
Haaga-Helia belongs to the Ulysseus European university alliance, which is also developing short-term learning programmes, including MOOCs and micro-credentials. European universities definitely bring an added value to their offerings by joining forces of diverse universities. They stick to the key pedagogical principles defined by the alliance and bring true multilingual and multicultural tools in the co-creation processes of the educational activities.
In Ulysseus, Haaga-Helia is in charge of the pedagogics of the alliance and building up the competences for the future programme, which includes several joint courses on key competences such as entrepreneurship, languages and AI.