Shared ‘Dublin’ descriptors for Short Cycle, First Cycle, Second Cycle and Third Cycle Awards
A report from a Joint Quality Initiative informal group (contributors to the document are provided in the Annex).
18 October 2004
This note proposes a shared ‘Dublin’ descriptor for qualifications awarded to students that signify completion of the higher education short cycle(within the first cycle). The descriptor extends the existing Dublin descriptors for Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral awards that have been published previously through the Joint Quality Initiative.[?]
In keeping with the Dublin Descriptors for the Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral awards, the short cycle descriptor is a general statement of the expected attributes of a student followingcompletion of a short cycle (within the first cycle) award that is independent of the precise nature of the educational process. The descriptor draws upon other sources some of which are associated with national frameworks of qualifications including:
Quality Assurance Agency Framework for higher education qualifications [?]
Irish National Framework of Qualifications [?]Danish Qualifications Framework [?]
The note also considers the sequence of three Dublin Descriptors that relate to completion of the first, second and third Bologna cycles and indicates the progression steps between the cycles.
1 The Berlin Communiqué
In September 2003 the Berlin Communiqué 2003, Ministers refer to an overarching framework of qualifications for the EuropeanHigher Education Area:
Ministers encourage the member States to elaborate a framework of comparable and compatible qualifications for their higher education systems, which should seek to describe qualifications in terms of workload, level, learning outcomes, competences and profile. They also undertake to elaborate an overarching framework of qualifications for the European Higher EducationArea.
More specifically, in relation to qualifications frameworks and the shorter higher education qualifications the Communiqué mentions:
Ministers invite the Follow-up Group to explore whether and how shorter higher education may be linked to the first cycle of a qualifications framework for the European Higher Education Area.
2 On formulating a higher education short cycle (within thefirst cycle) descriptor
A range of higher education awards are available to students who have undertaken a programme of study within the Bologna first cycle, but which do not represent the full extent of this cycle. Such awards may prepare the student for employment, while also providing preparation for, and access to, studies to completion of the first cycle. These awards are referred to as highereducation short cycle (within the first cycle). National systems may have various qualifications within the first cycle. This descriptor is intended for a commonly found type, which approximates to 120 ECTS credits or equivalent
Dublin Descriptors for SHORT CYCLE, First Cycle, Second Cycle and Third cycle awards[?]
1 ‘Dublin’ Descriptors
The JQI Dublin descriptors for Bachelorsand Masters were first proposed in March 2002 (see: www.jointquality.org ). The JQI meeting in Dublin on 23 March 2004 proposed that for a better understanding of the ‘Dublin descriptors’ in the context of the Berlin communiqué and their possible future usage, alternative headings, as indicated below, may be more appropriate. The JQI meeting on 23 March also proposed a set of shared descriptorsfor third cycle qualifications. The higher education short cycle (within the first cycle) descriptor was proposed following the JQI meeting in Dublin on 18 October 2004. The complete set of ‘Dublin descriptors’ is set out below:
Qualifications that signify completion of the higher education short cycle (within the first cycle) are awarded to students who:
- have demonstrated knowledge and...
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