European reform with a global touch

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 July, 2007, 12:00am

A reformed European higher education sector where qualifications receive greater international recognition is likely to benefit Asian students, a conference heard this week.

The European University Association's senior programme manager for international affairs, Michael Gaebel, said reform of Europe's higher education, known as the Bologna Process, was leading to growing awareness among universities of the need to give their qualifications international standing.

'I think for Asian students it's becoming a more transparent system. Many countries in Europe, probably with the exception of Britain, have offered education only for national students. They were not even thinking that it might matter for international students that their qualifications were recognised,' he said.

At the QS Apple Asia Pacific Professional Leaders in Education conference in Hong Kong on Thursday, Mr Gaebel said the Bologna Process, which began in 1998, aimed to have comparable degrees, and establish a common credit points system and quality assurance in universities across Europe.

Mr Gaebel said one of the long-term benefits for Asian students studying in Europe might be that their future employers and home universities would gain a better understanding of their qualifications.

'The fact that this is done by 46 countries is creating a critical mass. On a worldwide level you can not ignore this,' he said.

Mr Gaebel said there was growing interest in Asia among European universities, who wanted not only attract Asian students but also to form more partnerships with institutions in the region.

While countries such as Britain had long been a favoured destination for Asian students, Mr Gaebel said more European students were now expressing an interest in studying in Asia. 'It's not balanced yet but the interest is growing,' he said.