Columbus’ Egg? Qualifications Frameworks, Sectoral Profiles and Degree Programme Profiles in Higher Education

  • Robert Wagenaar University of Groningen, Netherlands
Keywords: qualifications frameworks, sectoral qualifications frameworks, sectoral profiles, degree programme profiles, reference points, learning outcomes, competences


During the last 25 years international mobility has become paramount in higher education. International and national authorities and higher education institutions have set-up effective structures to facilitate and implement this process. It has become part of a higher education modernization process which obtained a serious push with the start and development of the Bologna Process in Europe as of 1999. However the same authorities have been far less active in finding answers on how to facilitate this process in terms of curriculum development, quality assurance and recognition. The initiative was largely left to individuals supported by their employing organizations. These have proven to be visionaries. Their efforts have led to competence and learning outcomes based descriptors for meta-qualifications frameworks and to important reference points / meta profiles for subject areas. Academics have been strongly involved in developing the latter and by doing so have offered a more sustainable basis for implementing reforms based on the student-centred approach, which is so relevant for today’s world in terms of employability and citizenship. The most recent development has been the development of Tuning sectoral qualifications frameworks which allow for bridging the two European meta-frameworks, the EQF for Lifelong Learning and the QF for the European Higher Education Area, with sectoral and degree profiles. This can be seen as a breakthrough initiative because it offers us a transparent model which is developed and owned by academics and can easily be used by all involved in programme design and development, quality enhancement and assurance and recognition of (periods of) studies.

Published online: 4 July 2014


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Author Biography

Robert Wagenaar, University of Groningen, Netherlands

Robert Wagenaar is a historian and at present director of undergraduate and graduate studies at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. He is also Joint Director of the Tuning Academy, located in Bilbao (Spain) and Groningen; and a member of the Editorial Board of Tuning Journal for Higher Education (TJHE). He is an external expert on Higher Education for the European Commission and has been involved in main initiatives to harmonise European Higher Education, such as the development of a European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) since 1988 and the Qualifications Framework for the European Higher Education Area and a European Qualifications Framework for LLL. He also chairs the Dutch team of experts for the implementation of the ‘Bologna Process’ in Dutch Higher Education institutions. Together with Julia González (University of Deusto, Spain), Wagenaar elaborated, designed and coordinates the large scale innovative project Tuning Educational Structures in the World.


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How to Cite
Wagenaar, Robert. 2014. “Columbus’ Egg? Qualifications Frameworks, Sectoral Profiles and Degree Programme Profiles in Higher Education”. Tuning Journal for Higher Education 1 (1), 71-103.