Tools of the EHEA - Open University of Catalonia (UOC)

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Bologna process (EHEA)
European Higher Education Area

Tools of the EHEA

Instruments de l'EEES

In order to promote mobility and preserve diversity, a set of tools has been created:

a) Professional profiles
b) Competences
c) European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)
d) Diploma Supplement (DS)


a) Professional profiles

In the framework of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), universities are responsible for creating professionals who are capable and competent in the professional fields associated to the qualification or programme. Therefore, the design of a study programme involves dealing with the professional profile as a baseline, understood as the set of characteristics that define a specific professional function which may correspond to different qualification levels.

The professional profiles refer to the professional context and they describe the competences or skills that need to be brought into play in this environment to carry out an activity effectively and efficiently. Its definition has been implemented in the majority of disciplines and has been specified in various documents which have become reference points for designing degree courses.

Some of these reference points are the following::


  • Degree white papers.
  • The Tuning Project.
  • Study plans that existed before the EHEA.
  • Social actors (professional associations, trade unions, professional and business societies…).
  • Prestigious higher education institutions or universities themselves.

b) Competences

What is competence?

Competence is the group of skills that a person puts into practice when carrying out their professional and academic activity in an efficient, independent and flexible way.

To achieve competence involves the combination of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that enable a qualified person to undertake the resolution of problems in academic, professional or social contexts.

From higher education, university and adult education, the design according to competences helps us to prepare programmes based on academic and professional profiles that meet the environment’s needs. Not just a list of subject matter or content to be taught or learnt, the design according to competences contributes to reducing the distance that exists between education and the reality of the labour market which has traditionally characterised the university institution.

What types of competences are there?

In the UOC, we distinguish between:


  • the specific competences of each area of knowledge (political science, language and literature, systems engineering, psychopedagogy…)
  • the transversal competences to different programmes (for example, critical and self-critical thinking or leadership skill)
    • the competences inherent to the UOC, which are the transversal competences guaranteed in the degrees of the UOC and which are a distinguishing feature of the University (such as communication in a foreign language, the use and application of ICT, enterprising initiative or written expression).


c) European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)

ECTS stands for European Credit Transfer System.

Unlike credits that are based on the student’s lecture time, the ECTS represents the student’s personal work in all activities of the learning process (lecture time, time dedicated to planning and organising tasks, time used for projects and practicals, time working with other students, time used for assessment tests, etc.) Essentially, it is the unit of measure of their work with regard to the dedication and effort necessary to complete programmes and subjects.

The ECTS credit is the unit of measure from which degrees within the EHEA framework are organised. The use of this standard, adopted by all universities of the new European Area, aims to share a single measuring system that enables degree workloads to be compared.

In the UOC, an ECTS credit is equal to 25 hours of study work.


d) Diploma Supplement (DS)

This is the information document attached to the qualification and it contains relevant academic information on the level and content of studies completed, such as the competences obtained.

The fundamental objective is to make an easy-to-understood document of the university qualification and, particularly, one that is comparable in all EU countries. Therefore, it will further facilitate academic and professional mobility of graduates between the universities and professional markets of these countries.