In April 2012 the EU-China High Level People-to-People Dialogue (HPPD) announced the launch of an EU-China Tuning Study. The study should allow for (i) strengthening the compatibility of EU and China education systems, (ii) enhancing outcome-based education, (iii) overcoming obstacles to mobility, (iv) establishing commonly acknowledged quality criteria and (v) developing tools for mutual recognition.
The study was implemented from December 2012 to May 2014 by the Tuning Academy based in Groningen and Bilbao, in close cooperation with the Chinese Ministry of Education (MoE) and DG EAC of the EU, which together decided on its outline and approach. To implement the study three disciplines were selected to pilot the Tuning approach: Business Administration, Civil Engineering and (Comparative) Education. For each of these disciplines MoE appointed a high ranked university and coordinator. These three – Xi’an Jiaotong University (Business), Tongji University, Shanghai (Civil Engineering) and Beijing Normal University (Education) – invited each another four prestigious universities to establish a working groups for the disciplines. The Tuning Academy composed a team of ten experts, of which two specialised in each of the disciplines and another four specialised in the Tuning methodology. The study was co-coordinated by the director of the Groningen branch of the Tuning Academy and the director for Lifelong Learning of MoE.
To implement the study three series of Tuning seminars were organised in China and a site visit of a Chinese delegation of MoE and the three academic leaders of the working groups took place to three European universities, Deusto-Bilbao, Ghent and Groningen.
The main outcome of the study is three so-called conceptual frameworks or meta-profiles for the disciplines covered. These frameworks offer insight in the strength and weaknesses of higher education programmes in China. They are based on a consultation survey among main stakeholders as well as on intensive discussions between Chinese academic experts and Tuning European experts. The survey is described and analysed in a separate research paper, which has been prepared by the European Tuning management. The paper and three profiles offer a good basis for enhancing outcome-based learning of higher education programmes in China. As in most other parts of the world in China degree programmes are still staff centred. It is the official policy of the Chinese authorities, however, to move to outcome based education, which in practice means a shift of paradigm in the way education is organised and offered. By basing higher education programmes on outcomes the compatibility of Chinese and European higher education (degree programmes) will be enhanced as well as mobility and recognition will be facilitated. This applies to mobility and recognition in both directions. Because Tuning and comparable approaches are developed and applied now in all parts of the world, the outcomes of a process of change will have a wider impact than just the cooperation between Europe and China.