With ever-increasing mobility in the international labour market, employers, and in particular, their corporate recruiters, face a challenging recruitment maze.
An in-tray of CVs might include applications from the Czech Republic to Japan, all applying for the same role. Applications are often also completed online, with candidates entering an array of national educational qualifications.
How can UK employers draw meaningful comparisons between such candidates, when our understanding of the range of qualifications is incomplete? How can they identify the reputation of an educational institution abroad or understand how it may compare with similar institutions in the home market?
In response to our work with UK graduate recruiters from leading international companies, we commissioned an ESCP-EAP Student Consultancy team to facilitate our understanding of the plethora of international qualifications. With campuses in London, Paris, Turin, Madrid and Berlin, ESCP-EAP is ideally placed to research this topic.
The survey covered higher educational institutions in 33 different countries: the 25 member states of the European Union, as well as Australia and the US. It looked at the higher education systems in each country, and covered the examination and marking schemes from secondary school through to university. It also asked questions about the degree structures at university level, and aimed to identify world-class universities in each country.
Our survey coincided with a key phase in the process of the planned harmonisation of European higher education qualifications - the so-called 'Bologna Accord'. This agreement is designed to establish a European Higher Education area by 2010 among the EU member states. The process lays down a single system of degrees, which would be comparable through an agreed framework and credit mechanism.
The aim is to establish a system based on two main cycles: the first cycle of three years (undergraduate), and the second cycle of two years (graduate or Masters). The degree awarded after the first cycle is to be relevant to the European labour market, as an appropriate level of qualification. A rigorous quality assurance process and governing bodies to ensure standards and accountability will operate across Bologna nations.
But it also poses a number of challenges - it is not easy to predict how the behaviour of students, employers and institutions in Europe will change in the next 10