Wageningen University & Research (WUR) is one of three universities in the Netherlands to issue micro-credentials for the first time. A micro-credential is a separate certificate for an individual course or other shorter learning pathway. Such a certificate can be issued quickly and is a marker of quality. "This form of quantification fits perfectly into the trend of further flexibilisation of education, both initial education and continuing education," said prof.dr.ir. Arthur Mol, rector magnificus WUR.
WUR is participating in a national pilot aimed at offering accreditation-worthy education for professionals, given by colleges and universities. A micro-credential meets the needs of people who want to develop further during their careers. It is awarded after completing a short programme, such as a Master's course or a minor, with a study load of up to 840 hours, or 30 EC. Those courses no longer have to be part of a full degree programme but will get their own award this way.
The WUR micro-credentials were awarded today to six students from the Netherlands, Belgium and South Africa, after successfully completing the Online Master's Course Food Ingredient Functionality - WUR and Master's Course Advanced Biochemical Analysis of Foods - Product Composition - WUR, and the course Public Space and Transitions: Planning, Design and Management (part
of the Managing Public Space programme).
End to wild west-like scenes
"Traditionally, we qualify ourselves for a job or task, by following a specific bachelor, master or course," explains Arthur Mol. "However, we need more flexible education systems to meet the demands of current and future generations. Flexible education systems enable learners to move within and across education, training and employment. This means that any learner can adapt their learning pathway as they go along, to suit their interests and abilities." Microcredentials thus fit very well into the concept of lifelong learning.
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This flexibilisation of education results in all kinds of initiatives offering further development. "That can lead to wild west-like scenes. In order to safeguard the quality of educational products, we need a controlling system."
Microcredentials provide that seal of quality, monitoring, for example, the level of education given, the duration of a course and study hours. They guarantee the knowledge, skillset, and achieved learning outcomes. "We are very happy to be among the first universities in the Netherlands to award microcredentials and wish the graduates success in continuing their career and Life Long Learning. We hope many universities and learners will follow – nationally and internationally."
Freedom in learning, quantified results
Klaar Vernaillen (WUR) is project leader Micro-credentials and part of the national pilot group Micro-credentials.“With micro-credentials, learners will experience much more freedom to create their own lifelong development path," she stresses. "Based on individual learning needs, learners will be able to choose and combine courses from diverse educational institutions to form their own path, without having to follow a full bachelor's or master's degree. This gives a professional more control over their own development, path, courses, activities and educational institutions. Micro-credentials open the eyes to a world of opportunities."