Nova Academy, founded in 2021, is the alliance for lifelong learning (LLL) of the universities of Antwerp, Ghent and Brussels. In this alliance all efforts on LLL are shared and the first result is a common search engine where their LLL offer can be found. The three Nova Academy partners also created a framework for micro-credentials. The framework remains as close as possible to the European Council’s recommendations. Within this framework, Nova Academy created already 187 micro-credentials, of which 100 at UAntwerp and about one third of them thought in English.
In 2023 the Flemish Ministry of Education and Training reached an agreement on micro-credentials for higher education institutions. The agreement that came out is based on the framework for Micro-credentials of Nova Academy.
It is possible to enrol in just one course unit of a degree program on the basis of a credit contract. Furthermore, all programs and courses are registered in a central Flemish Database: the HE Database (DHO) and the credits are stored in the Learnings and Experiences Database (LED), which we hope will lead to a central Flemish connection to the ELM and Europass implementation.
The framework describes 4 types of Micro-credentials:
- Type 1: Combination of one or more existing course units from graduate, bachelor’s and/or master’s programmes
- Type 2: Combination of one or more existing course units from graduate, bachelor’s and/or master’s programmes, supplemented with new offerings
- Type 3a: Existing content from graduate, bachelor and/or master programmes (i.e. not according to existing course units
- Type 3b: New content or content from existing initiatives LLL
Some issues still need to be resolved. Today, the certification of Micro-credentials is not regulated. The institution issues its own certificate, which does not have to be recognised by another institution, nor is it registered in the LED database. The registration of Micro-credentials in the higher education database is not possible. Today, the funding of micro-credentials is possible if it is a type 1 or 2 micro-credential and if the student registers via a credit contract. Rules on tuition fees are applicable in this situation. Other micro-credentials (types 3a and b) are not funded today.