[EGRACONS newsletter] Newsletter IV


Following the recommendations of UNESCO, the Egracons conversion tool will link degrees to ISCED codes. The ISCED fields of Education and training are used by UNESCO/Eurostat/OECD to classify degrees into disciplines. A new classification was agreed upon in 2013 by Unesco. The ISCED-2013 F classification comprises about 80 fields of education (detailed level = four digits). The detailed fields (the third hierarchical level of the classification) are intended mainly for use at the tertiary level of education (see manual). If you want to code at a higher level, one or two digits ‘8’ are added. In this way 4 digits can be used at all times.
At the highest one-digit level the following 11 broad groups of fields of education are distinguished: 00 Generic Programmes and qualifications, 01. Education, 02. Humanities and arts, 03. Social sciences, journalism and information, 04. Business administration and law, 05. Natural Sciences, mathematics and statistics, 06. Information and Communication Technologies, 07. Engineeering, manufacturing and construction, 08. Agriculture, forestry and veterinary, 09. Health and welfare, and 10.Services. Read more here.
The Egracons project proposes that degree programmes (of the same cycle) under the same ISCED study field codes are aggregated to make up one single reference group (discipline) according to a 4-digit code. The grading tables are submitted per degree, but the degrees are combined automatically to ISCED discipline codes inside the tool. This makes it possible to search both by degree title and ISCED code. The choice of the codes is critical because, in order to make the conversion simpler, it should be uniformly applied by HEIs of each country (or educational system of a region). This makes it possible to have a one-to-one correspondence between reference groups of different countries. Comparing grading tables based on individual degree programmes would not offer this correspondence, as they cannot be readily compared, may be statistically unstable and be too dependent on the grading behaviour of individual professors.
The requirement of providing 4-digit codes was incorporated in the new grading table template available now at the EGRACONS website. All availabe codes can be accessed there as well  (see list). The new Grading Table Template can be accessed at http://egracons.eu/document/grading-table-instructions-and-template. It now offers the possibility of supplying the English translation of degree titles at the host university as well, as these are easier to understand by the people converting the grades at the home university.
Universities willing to submit their grading tables are now asked to use the templates available and send them to the project team at: Valere.Meus@UGent.be, preferably before the summer. This makes it possible to include them in the first operational version of the tool to be presented at the EAIE conference in Glasgow in September.


The Egracons project is preparing country reports on grading systems across the EHEA. So far, 19 European countries have been covered, with more being added all the time. 
In order to have a comprehensive overview from all 28 EU countries to enhance the performance of the conversion tool, the project partners would still like to target especially the following countries: Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Macedonia, Serbia, Norway, and Slovakia.
We invite universities from the countries listed above to contribute to the country reports by filling in a short form available here: http://egracons.eu/sites/default/files/Country%20Report_template.docx
Examples of the Country Reports prepared so far are available here: http://egracons.eu/page/country-reports.


The EGRACONS project partners will deliver a workshop The EGRACONS tool for the conversion of grades in Europe: a practical approach that will be organised at the ERACON annual conference held between 13-17 May 2015 at the School of Engineering of the Polytechnic University of Porto, Portugal.
The participants will be able to familiarize themselves with and use the tool to test both single and transcript conversion between their own and other universities across Europe providing they submit the grading tables in advance. Otherwise, they can test the tool using the name of one of the project partner universities. The workshop will be the first real testing opportunity with an external audience.
The speakers will be:
• Chair: Valère Meus, Ghent University, Belgium 
• Anthony Vickers, University of Essex, UK
• Rafael De Paz, University of Leon, Spain
Prospective participants can submit their grading tables based on the templates available here http://egracons.eu/document/grading-table-instructions-and-template at the following  email Valere.Meus@UGent.be.
More info about the ERACON Annual Conference 2015 available here http://eracon.info/?id=234.


The new ECTS User’s Guide, endorsed by the Bologna Follow-Up Group in November 2014 will be subject to approval by the Ministerial Conference to be held between 14-15 May 2015 in Yerevan, Armenia http://www.ehea.info/event-details.aspx?evId=469
The ECTS Users’ Guide offers guidelines for implementing ECTS and links to useful supporting documents. Following the request from Bologna Ministers in Bucharest in 2012, the ECTS Users’ Guide of 2009 has been revised, in order to strengthen the “meaningful implementation of learning outcomes” in the EHEA. 
The Guide takes forward the objective of Ministers to “call on institutions to further link study credits with both learning outcomes and student workload and to include the attainment of learning outcomes in assessment procedures”. The revised Guide takes into account recent developments in the Bologna Process such as the establishment of the EHEA, the consolidation of lifelong learning, the paradigm shift from teacher centred to student-centred higher education, the increasing use of learning outcomes, and the development of new modes of learning and teaching. It includes a specific focus on programme design and delivery, and builds on the experience of higher education institutions in using qualifications frameworks and in applying ECTS principles in academic practice.  It also contains a section on grade conversion, endorsing the Egracons methodology (but without explicitly mentioning it).
You can consult the draft version here 
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