EU-ChinaThe main aim of this Study has been to contribute to a better mutual understanding of the European Higher Education Area and the Chinese Higher Education System to facilitate credit mobility based on recognition of study periods taken in China and EU countries.

The Tuning EU-China Study, was organised in two phases. Phase I covered the period December 2012- May 2014 and the second phase October 2016 – December 2019.  It has been implemented by the International Tuning Academy, based in Groningen (NL) and was commissioned by the Directorate-General for Education and Culture, Innovation, International Cooperation and Sports. The project was co-financed by the National Centre for Education Development Research (NCEDR) of the Ministry of Education (MoE) of the People’s Republic of China which has acted as co-organiser of the study. The first phase of the study resulted in two main publications:  a more comprehensive one published by the Chinese Ministry in Mandarin and English for distribution in in particular China and a second shorter one in English, published by the International Tuning Academy and meant for an international audience. The findings of the first phase served as the foundation of this second Study. It is expected that the outcomes of the second phase will be published in the first half of 2020, both on this Tuning China website and in printed and digital format.

According to the Tuning bottom-up approach, the Study was established by academic experts from different academic fields. In the first phase it covered the subject areas Business, Civil Engineering and (Comparative) Education. For the second phase three additional academic fields were identified in close cooperation again with the Chinese Ministry of Education: Nursing, Information and Computing Sciences and Transport and Logistics. The disciplines involved in phase I kept playing a role in this second phase although in a far less prominent capacity.

The outcomes of the second phase, as in the case of the first phase, are multiple, and directly related to the three action lines identified and agreed before the start of the study: (1) developing a credit system which is comparable and compatible and aligned to initiatives to arrive to student workload and outcomes based systems in other parts of the world, such as ECTS; (2) the promotion of student-centred and active learning by identifying appropriate learning, teaching and assessment strategies; and (3) involvement of three new subject areas from different academic domains, representing health care, social sciences and natural sciences. These should offer a good basis for developing a Chinese Qualifications Framework for Higher Education.

Both phase I and phase II of the Tuning EU-China Study have been initiated in the framework of the EU-China High Level People-to People Dialogue (HPPD) of the People’s Republic of China and the Commission of the European Union. The Study responds to one of the follow-up actions identified in the field of education of the first round of the HPPD held in Brussels on 18 April 2012.  This action consisted 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.


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.


On 11 October 2016 EU Commissioner Tibor Navracsics could state at the China-EU Education Ministers Conference “Staying connected: why we need to strengthen our cooperation on education” taking place in Beijing that “We are also making progress in ensuring our high education systems are more compatible. Above all, we are doing this through ‘China Tuning’, a joint project set up to define common academic learning outcomes, thus making it easier for students to have academic credits recognised. This has improved academic relations and helped students to move between China and Europe more easily”.[1]

[1] Speech /16/3421