Given the size of the China and the number of institutions as well as the type of governmental system, institutions higher education institutions accommodate / reform their programmes on the basis of guidelines and/or examples. These are distributed by government authorities. Therefore, the Chinese are very interested in pilots which can serve as a tool to change higher education policies. The Tuning study was intended and acted as one of a limited number of pilots which should serve as input to decide on educational reforms in the country. For strategic reasons, 15 universities were selected for the Tuning study. All these universities have a high profile and prestige in their respective academic fields. Therefore there work should serve as guiding examples for all other institutions.
It was agreed to involve two European experts for each of the three disciplines to pilot, Business, Civil Engineering and Comparative Education. They should serve as advisors for the Chinese working groups.
Furthermore, a learning visit was included in the study to three European universities, Ghent (being close to Brussels), Bilbao and Groningen for a delegation of six (three representatives of the Ministry of Education and the leaders of the three subject areas identified), and to link it to the EU-China Higher Education Platform for Cooperation and Exchange (HEPCE) in Brussels, planned for the 25th of April 2013, to develop a better understanding at the Chinese side regarding the Tuning philosophy and approach and its actual implementation.
A crucial step in deciding the final outline of the study was a first combined seminar of all participants in the study. This meeting took place at the Xi’An Jiao Tong University in Xi’An on 23-24 March 2013 and was hosted by the Chinese Ministry of Education.
The agreed outline scheduled five outcomes:
- The establishment of 3 disciplinary working groups of 5 universities each with high prestige and profile in their respective academic fields. They should in practice serve as guiding examples for all other institutions in China. Each group to be coordinated by a leading university.
- A survey among four stakeholder groups on the relevance of defined general academic and discipline specific competences: employers, graduates, students and academic staff. The outcomes of this consultation is to be published in a research paper,
- A conceptual framework / meta-framework for each of the subject areas involved, based on the consultation process of stakeholders and intensive reflections among experts in the field. The frameworks follow a fixed template.
- A paper identifying communalities and differences between European and Chinese HE systems to be based on the conceptual frameworks / meta-profiles prepared. The focus of this paper is on criteria of quality assurance and practical tools and mechanisms for recognition following the Tuning approach of competence development and the achievement of Learning Outcomes.
- Establishing connections between Chinese and European disciplinary networks as well as higher education institutions – to be met by linking the outcomes of the Tuning EU-China Study with the (work established by) Tuning networks related to Business Studies, Educational Sciences and Engineering.