November 28, 2023

Elevating Curriculum Flexibility through Micro-Qualifications

In the University of Rijeka’s developmental plan spanning from 2021 to 2025, the institution has articulated its commitment to enhancing the quality and efficiency of the educational process. The University aims to strengthen adaptable learning pathways, cultivate pertinent student competencies, and increase overall student satisfaction with their study programmes and educational experiences.

In pursuit of its strategic goals and to attract and retain students, the University is implementing various measures. One notable initiative involves the introduction of micro-qualifications, aiming to enhance curriculum flexibility. As part of this endeavour, a programme titled UNIRI CLASS – Open Personalised Curriculum has been designed, with funding allocated for projects developing micro-qualifications tailored to assist students in acquiring sought-after skills. Micro-qualifications build on the foundation qualification of the degree programme but take an interdisciplinary approach and, by focusing on the challenges and opportunities of today’s modern society, serve to better equip students for employment in rapidly developing societies and emerging industries where traditional degree programmes may fall short.

To date, three calls for proposals have been launched, resulting in 13 projects that have received institutional financial support for the development of interdisciplinary micro-credentials that provide for a clearly defined structure with a set of learning outcomes worth 10-30 ECTS credits. Except for the last call, the development of the micro-credential programme required collaboration between at least two higher education institutions (either the University of Rijeka constituents or national/foreign partner institutions) and the implementation of the micro-credential as the elective part of at least two study programmes offered by at least two University of Rijeka constituents.

Evaluation criteria for the submitted projects included the relevance of learning outcomes, innovative teaching methods, monitoring and assessment of students’ work, compliance with the University strategy and Gender Equality Plan, alignment with Sustainable Development Goals, and internationalisation, particularly the possibility of conducting classes in English and cooperation with foreign partners, especially within the YUFE Alliance.

Micro-qualifications seamlessly integrate into existing study programmes. All courses included in micro-qualifications are offered as electives, and upon completion of all courses, students acquire the right for the micro-qualification to be included in their diploma supplement. Importantly, these micro-qualifications do not replace traditional credentials but offer a more adaptable and modular approach to learning, meeting the needs of both students and employers.

To ensure the quality of the newly structured study programme components, these micro-qualifications undergo accreditation as lifelong learning programmes through the UNIRI-specific procedure. This involves two anonymous, independent reviewers, committee deliberation, and approval by the UNIRI Senate. Accreditation guarantees a meaningful, well-rounded set of learning outcomes and resulting competencies, and serves as a prerequisite for including information on micro-qualifications in the diploma supplement. On the other hand, the accreditation of micro-qualifications as LLL programmes provides access to the programme for students enrolled in other degree programmes at the University and expands enrolment opportunities for learners outside the University, underscoring the institution’s commitment to providing valuable, accessible education beyond the boundaries of the campus.

The UNIRI CLASS programme line was initiated in 2021, and presently, micro-qualification programmes are available in only a limited number of degree programmes. The evaluation of the impact of this measure on study flexibility and student satisfaction will unfold in the forthcoming period. Nevertheless, we now already consider the programme a great step towards the modernisation of our studies.

For more information, please contact Ana Tomaško Obradović, Head of the University Centre for Studies, Students, and QA, University of Rijeka.

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