Supporting Learning Mobility with Student Data Harmonisation - A European Perspective
Keywords:learning mobility, semantic interoperability, data harmonisation, higher education, cross-border
Digitalisation promotes online education, internationalisation and student mobility. Based on the Bologna process and the European higher education area, learning mobility has been successful under Erasmus and other similar initiatives. However, a key issue for students and universities is that a significant amount of time is spent on the manual labour involved in the process of applying to degree programs overseas. It is therefore essential for higher education institutions to better exploit the potential of technology and Web 2.0 to enable a secure exchange of evidence during application for degree programs and academic courses in foreign Higher Education Institutions, as well as applying for study grants and obtaining recognition for academic and other types of studies. Harmonisation of the student data is a key initial step for enabling such exchange. In this study, an approach to a secured exchange of education evidence is instrumented under the H2020 project Digital Europe for All (DE4A). Existing semantic standards for Web 2.0 applications, core vocabularies for public service data and semantic assets from existing best practices such as W3C, ISA2 core vocabularies, and Europass data model are used to curate data models that allow the exchange of a higher education diploma, secondary education diploma and information of special needs (disability, large family), which is required by students when requesting study grants (waive of tuition fees). The semantic interoperability agreements are established cross-border through these data models called canonical evidences. The canonical evidences are tested with the national data services of three countries, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain. The final data models are implemented in XML Schema format that could be used by any educational organisation intending to use trusted public service databases within Europe to automatically retrieve information on students’ degrees. The validity of the canonical evidences is tested on two pilot occasions within the DE4A project. The outcome of this study summarises the procedural requirements for evidences when applying for a higher degree program and seeking grants. Furthermore, it resulted in verified canonical evidence data models that fulfil the procedural requirements for applying for studying abroad.