The design of a joint micro-credential programme: overview



Align with European and national developments Define the macro-objectives of the joint micro-credential programme Build the partnership Compose the micro-credential programme team: structure and tasks Ensure cross-institutional support Share a joint vision on the micro-credential programme to be developed Design the joint micro-credential curriculum Agree on a qualification Create an educational and technological ecosystem Develop a sustainability framework Conclude a consortium agreement Develop a student recruitment plan Develop a business plan Agree on a joint quality assurance scheme Determine examination regulations Define an admission framework


Designing and developing a micro-credential programme is a complex activity consisting of several steps

  • align with European and national developments: connect with EU policies related to the European Commission’s Proposal for a Recommendation to the Ministers of Education on micro-credentials (European Commission, 2021); connect with national micro-credential frameworks under development; and take advantage of European initiatives under various projects;
  • define the macro-objectives of the programme and link them to broader institutional strategies, such as reconciling continuing education and professional development with learners’ living and working conditions, cooperating with public and private sectors and professional organization, developing synergies with other universities for higher quality and making continuing education internationally attractive;
  • build the partnership with universities based on trust and previous collaborations or common interests in research and innovation. If necessary, involve other stakeholders (professional organisations, employers) for co-design, co-development or co-delivery;
  • compose the joint programme team led by a programme team leader, share leadership with key staff of the respective institutions and involve teaching staff in the design and development of the programme;
  • ensure cross-institutional professional support through the teaching and learning, internationalisation, ICT for education, legal services and the student administrations;
  • share a joint educational vision about the micro-credential programme, based on a needs analysis and learner characteristics. Develop an academic and professional profile and a unique selling point;
  • design the joint micro-credential programme according to current pedagogical principles so that it can be successfully developed and implemented, defining learning outcomes and competences, designing a coherent programme in content and structure, defining modes of delivery, matching media and tools, designing space for flexibility; improving the student’s learning experience; determining the study load; making the programme inclusive; and designing mobility modes for students and staff;
  • justify and agree on the joint qualification to be granted, aligned with institutional qualification structures for continuing education and professional development, accompanied by a joint certificate and possibly a professional qualification;
  • create an educational and technological ecosystem for the delivery of courses by selecting a digital learning environment, sharing and aligning media and resources, and mutual access to libraries, research and innovation;
  • install a language policy to make the programme accessible within the partnership and in different geographical areas, possibly translated;
  • establish an admission framework for the joint micro-credential programme until a joint application at the end of the admission procedure, joint admission criteria and a joint credential evaluation with recognition of acquired knowledge and experience;
  • determine joint examination regulations for the organization of examinations, a joint grading system and the issuance of a joint qualification and qualification supplement;
  • make agreements on a common scheme for quality assurance, linked to institutional frameworks for quality assurance and based on ESG and the Guidelines for E-learning. Consider the quality assurance system of European university alliance. Use evidence-based quality assurance tools. If necessary, draw up an accreditation plan;
  • develop a joint business plan, balancing public and private funding and tuition fees within broader institutional frameworks for continuing education. Use micro-credentials as mobility windows in degree education;
  • develop a student recruitment plan, including multi-segment recruitment campaigns andprospective student flows;
  • conclude a consortium agreement in which responsibilities and tasks are laid down.
  • develop a sustainability framework with a commitment from universities for several years to ensure basic sustainability, an annual institutional review and improvement plan and a medium-term financial plan


  • Efforts for (online) continuing education and professional development are being strengthened and streamlined in leading universities, for example by creating “extension schools” with micro-credential courses and programmes, and by creating new offerings such as MOOCs and MOOC trajectories;
  • Universities in EUI alliances cooperate in many areas for continuing education and professional development, providing a natural environment for joint micro-credential course and programme development;
  • The MOOC platforms in the European MOOC Consortium are developing MOOC pathways and have agreed on awarding micro-credentials according to the Common Micro-credential Framework (CMF). These micro-credentials of 4 to 6 ECTS are stackable into broader micro-credential and degree programmes;
  • Expertise in the design and development of joint courses and programmes and related mobility is increasing at all levels, for example through the involvement of universities in Erasmus Mundus master’s programmes. This supports the scientific basis for designing and developing joint micro-credential programmes.

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of a joint micro-credential programme in higher education