CHAPTER 10

SUBSTANTIAL DIFFERENCES

EXAMPLES

Example 1 - Relevant outcomes should match

An applicant has obtained a qualification in engineering, which prepares for admission to PhD programmes in engineering and also provides professional rights in the field of engineering. If the purpose of recognition is admission to a PhD programme in engineering, the qualification should be evaluated only on the basis of the outcomes required for admission to the PhD programme, and not on the basis of the professional rights.

On the other hand, if the applicants seeks recognition for professional purposes, the evaluation should be based on the outcomes required for entrance into the profession.

Return to Recommendation – Comparing outcomes of qualifications

Example 2 – Accept (non-substantial) differences in content

If an applicant is seeking recognition for a purpose which is in line with the outcomes of his qualification (such as admission to a master’s programme in history on the basis of a bachelor’s degree in history), the competent recognition authority will usually be glad to report that no substantial differences exist between the qualification of the applicant and the required one.

Obviously, there are bound to be differences in the contents of history programmes offered in two different countries with respect to the subjects covering the national history. However, these differences should not be considered as substantial, since the applicant has developed the competences to easily extend his knowledge of history to any particular period or country.

Return to Recommendation – No substantial differences identified

Example 3 - Accept (non-substantial) differences in orientation

If an applicant wishes to change his field of study between the bachelor’s and master’s degrees, this does not automatically constitute a substantial difference by itself, as long as the overall academic and/or professional goals of the two programmes are coherent. For instance, a bachelor’s degree in physics could constitute adequate preparation for admission to a master’s programme in the history of science or philosophy of science. If the applicant is seeking admission to a graduate programme in a more remote field, he can in all fairness be required to complete additional requirements such as certain prerequisite courses. This would also be required of national students who choose to continue in a more remote field at the graduate level.

Return to Recommendation – No substantial differences identified

Example 4 - Accept (non-substantial) differences in orientation

In many EHEA countries, the combined workload of consecutive bachelor and master programmes is 300 ECTS (usually 180 ECTS for the bachelor programme and 120 ECTS for the master programme). However, there are also countries where a bachelor programme of 180 ECTS may be followed by a master programme of 60 ECTS. These master programmes may have similar purposes and learning outcomes as the 120 ECTS master programmes, such as specialising in one of the main research areas of the chosen field of study, learning how to carry out original research, and preparing for admission to PhD programmes. Therefore, a difference of 60 ECTS between two master programmes should not be automatically considered as a substantial difference. All aspects of the master degree should be taken into account (level, workload, quality, profile and learning outcomes) and only substantial differences in the overall outcome of the programme (which would prevent the applicant to succeed in the desired activity) should be reported.

Return to Recommendation – No substantial differences identified

Example 5 - Substantial difference found

An applicant with a master’s degree in Applied Computer Science applies for admission to a PhD programme in Informatics. The main learning outcomes of the Master programme in Applied Computer Science are being able to: meet the needs of employers in the area of information technology, apply theory to the practical problems of developing information systems, and provide technological and managerial perspectives on information management. The requirement for admission to the PhD programme is a relevant master degree and research skills. The competent recognition authority reports to the applicant that the master’s degree in Applied Computer Science fulfils the formal requirements, but that the lack of research in the master programme is a substantial difference that will make it very difficult for the applicant to succeed in the PhD programme. Based on this outcome of the evaluation, a higher education institution might consider whether conditional recogni- tion could be granted, requiring the applicant to improve his research skills in the first stages of the PhD programme.

Return to Recommendation – Substantial differences found