Introduction

EU-ChinaThis study has been implemented by the International Tuning Academy, based in Deusto, Bilbao (ES) and Groningen (NL), in close cooperation with the Ministry of Education (MoE) of the People’s Republic of China. It responds to one of the follow-up actions identified in the field of education of the first round of the EU-China High Level People-to-People Dialogue (HPPD) held in Brussels on 18 April 2012.  This action consists of initiating an EU-China “Tuning” joint study in 2012. 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 ncluded the carrying out of three series of Tuning seminars in three academic disciplinary fields, Business, Civil Engineering and (Comparative) Education which were selected in close consultation with the Chinese Ministry of Education (MoE), involving staff from selected universities across China and the EU, to facilitate and build up a Tuning network of institutions and to disseminate the results in China and in the worldwide Tuning community. The main outcome is three so-called conceptual frameworks or meta-profiles for the subject areas 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, in particular the director of the Deusto branch in Bilbao of the International Tuning Academy, Pablo Beneitone. 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.

PHOTOParticipants

This study was launched in December 2012 after a short preparatory phase. The final outline was agreed upon in April 2013. The outcomes of the study have been published in a book in Chinese and English, under the responsibility and supervision of the LLL unit of the Chinese Ministry of Education jointly edited by the Chinese and the two directors of the International Tuning Academy. The aim of the book is to present the Tuning approach and the examples of good practice as developed in the framework of this study. Also the research paper covering the consultation of stakeholders is included. It is thought that this book will facilitate the implementation of the paradigm change which is thought necessary. It has to be stressed that the Chinese higher education system is centrally organised. Leading Chinese universities, such as those that participated in this study, set the standards for and offer guidance to higher education institutions in the country as a whole. Thus it is hoped and expected that this study and its outcomes will have a serious nationwide impact which will strengthen the compatibility of the evolving higher education systems in and of China and Europe, and that it will contribute significantly to build trust and confidence and to facilitate mobility and recognition between them. The outcome based approach which is advocated by Tuning should serve as the catalyst in this process.

The outcomes of the study show us that there is agreement on the route to be taken. They also indicate, however, that big steps still have to be made. One of these is the development of a work based credit system as well as a Chinese Qualifications system to underpin the shift to outcome based programmes. Another important step thought necessary is to involve more subject areas / disciplines from to cover the whole spectrum of higher education.