It is widely accepted at present that graduates should not only be knowledgeable but also skilled; that is, to apply the learning they have gained in practice. To define what should be learned, governments all over the world have initiated the development of (inter)national qualifications frameworks. These benchmarks have also been developed at subject area level, resulting from transnational initiatives of higher education (HE) institutions and their academics. Although these instruments offer us clear indicators of what should be learned, they do not tell us how this learning should take place and whether the intended outcomes are achieved. This requires additional political action and the development of further policies in two directions: better infrastructures at HE institutions for staff training, and measurement tools that offer reliable evidence regarding the outcomes of a learning process in a comparative perspective. This chapter outlines what has already been done in the past, and what still has to be done in the future to guarantee that HE contributes to the building of prosperous and sustainable societies.
The Tuning Educational Structures in Europe project (2000–), co-financed by the European Commission and by the universities directly involved, is a grass-roots response to the Bologna Declaration. It was inspired by the idea that system reforms, a prime responsibility of national governments, should be complemented by structural reforms regarding the way in which study programmes were offered, which is the responsibility of higher education (HE) institutions and their staff. Tuning designed a structure which allowed for the development of a toolbox to support the modernisation of degree programmes by offering a methodology for reform and international benchmarks at subject area level. It requires the change from expert-driven education to a student-centred approach which includes active learning. Tuning was indeed successful in involving many hundreds of universities and thousands of academics in developing its toolbox. However, the paradigm shift is still far from a widespread reality as a Tuning impact study and other studies have showed. Recently Tuning launched a new initiative to support the benchmarks with detailed assessment frameworks offering a basis for the transnational measurement and comparison of learning.