A descriptive title should be selected for the MCRA that should indicate what is being agreed and also follow prior agreements produced by both HEIs.
The preamble included is intended to present key information about the template and its completion process. It is different to the procedural information that appears in the blue sections in that it is intended to be kept in the final MCRA, and as such, provide relevant indications above and beyond the existence of the agreement as a template. It is text that has been added by the ECCOE project participants and is not subject to change.
3. Institutions, recognition, and validation pathways
In this current version of the MCRA template, only agreements between two HEIs are contemplated. In these cases, two courses can be mutually recognised/validated as equivalents at each institution, or only one, can be accepted as part of a study program in the other HEI. The exact range of such recognitions and validations will no doubt be specified and explored as the ECCOE project advances, and new HEIs incorporate into the system.
In an attempt to standardize the development of MCRAs between HEIs, the set of existing recognition/validation paths have been identified at existing partner HEIs, and included in this tool. Such information makes it very much easier for new HEIs, not in the system, who want to establish a MCRA with them, to know what is required.
4. Agreement details
The details included in these sections for the HEIs preparing an MCRA can come from two sources: firstly, from the information stored in the system as a result either of the analysis undertaken of partner recognition and validation pathways undertaken as part of the project analysis undertaken in Output 2, or from the information entered by new HEIs when they register.
Sections 4.1 and 4.2 include information that will appear in the final MCRA and sections 4.3 and 4.4 information that will not. The latter are intended to provide support to the administration and legal departments of the respective HEIs as they go through the recognition/ validation of the given courses at each institution en route to the final MCRA.
In this section, the type of recognition / validation path is selected (or specified) for each HEI. An analysis of existing recognition and validation agreements was undertaken in the project in order to establish the different possibilities that need to be contemplated in the MCRA. Two different types of learning was seen to be necessary (institutional level and faculty level), that could be recognised/validated at two different levels (formal learning and non-formal learning).
In this section, the high-level objective for the recognition / validation of courses by each HEIs appears, as a result of the recognition / validation path selected previously. If the MCRA is being developed for an institution that is not previously registered in the ECCOE system, then the object needs to completed using the option Add data about your institution in the MCRA frontpage.
4.3. Institution process steps
This section summarises the details on the steps that each institution typically follows in order to establish a collaborative agreement. The inclusion of these steps in the MCRA template (they won’t be included in the final MCRA) have two purposes:
- Provide existing HEI partners with a list of the steps that they need to follow, including the relevant actors, to convert the template into a fully fledged MCRA. While it is assumed that the main actors at each institution know the steps, that does not mean that all possible MCRA developers there do.
- Provide examples and inspiration to new HEIs that want to form part of the ECCOE system, so that they can see how other institutions build their agreements, and in accordance with that information, start to capture their own.
This section is intended as a place to record all the possible conditions, complications, and factors that might affect the successful recognition / validation of a given course by the HEIs. The medium to long-term goal of the HEIs participating in the development of an MCRA should be to reduce the condition list to zero, at which point future applications of the MCRA would be automatic and not require any human input.
This section, as an unrestricted free-text area, is intended to be used to include all relevant information about the courses to be recognised / validated that is not included as annexes to the MCRA. In the current version of the MCRA template tool, it is a common text area where presumably both HEIs will collaborate in the specification of the text that needs to be included (for example, details of the annexes included with the MCRA). In subsequent versions, as a result of early user trials, it is possible to change this behaviour, so that some of the information can be included semi-automatically. This is the case because some information included in institutional agreements is standard and common to all such documents and as such can be included directly.
6. Signatories and legal capacities
Institutional agreements are usually signed by the legal representative, who is typically the Vice-Chancellor, or a similar figure. Since national law in each country is different, for this version of the tool, this section has two short free-text boxes, so that the relevant legal and contractual information for each signatory can be included.
7. Agreement lifetime
The duration of recognition/validations agreements between HEIs are limited in time so the start and end dates need to be included explicitly here.
8. Date and signatures
This section enables the signatory figures highlighted earlier in the MCRA to actually date and sign it, the final step before the agreement becomes live. It should be noted that here the date and signature fields are included separately, since currently, most such documents are signed by hand. However, as this antiquated practice gives rise to the use of digital signatures the date field will be able to be removed, since the date is included automatically in digital signatures.
The annexes provide a way to attach supporting documents to the MCRA. In the current version, it is possible to include upto five annexes, but others could be added if required, once the template takes the form of a document.
Of these annexes, two different types exist:
- Annexes one to three are specific documents already identified as being potentially present for a given MCRA. Here, there is only one text field for each HEI, namely a URI (Uniform Resource Identifier), where a link to the given annex can be included.
- Annexes four and five can be used for any other type of document that needs to be added, so there are two different text fields for each HEI, one for a brief description of the document and another for the corresponding URI (Uniform Resource Identifier).
9.1. Annex 1: ECCOE quality typology instance
Output 1 of the project specifies a quality typology that is intended to characterise a given course in terms of the European values of openness, transparency, flexibility of learning. All courses included in MCRAs should have an instance of this typology, that should be included as annex 1. The structural uniformity of these instantiations provide a quick and effective tool for HEIs to compare and contrast respective courses.
9.2. Annex 2: Course programmes
This annex includes a detailed programme for each of the courses.
9.3. Annex 3: Existing agreements
If there are any existing agreements between the two HEIs then they can be included here. Three types of agreements are currently contemplated, although others might exist: firstly, specific agreements that either cover completely the courses / collaborations included here, secondly, those that are generally relevant but do not cover the courses included here, and thirdly, agreements that have little if anything to do with mutual course recognition and validation, but demonstrate prior art of trust relations between the two institutions.
9.4. Subsequent annexes: other relevant documents
These annexes can be used to attach other documents that are relevant to the given MCRA.