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ECIU is the first European University Alliance to issue e-sealed micro-credentials

Published on 6.11.2023
Tampere University
Associate Professor Henri Pirkkalainen and his team have participated in the introduction of digital micro credentials on the European level.
As the first European University Alliance (EUA), the ECIU University is granting digital micro credentials for small education modules. Even though a student may not have completed a higher education degree, demonstrating one’s competence to, e.g., an employer is easy by using micro credentials.

Tampere University is a member of the ECIU University which is one of the EUAs. At the ECIU University, students can study small education modules offered by the member universities. By completing such modules, students can expand and update their competence according to their interests or to meet the rapidly changing demands of working life.

The small study modules that can be flexibly completed promote continuous learning and finding employment in Europe. ECIU has pioneered in piloting the modules for a few years. As a result, it is now starting to issue e-sealed micro credentials as the first EUA.

At Tampere University, Associate Professor Henri Pirkkalainen and his team have participated in the introduction of digital micro credentials on the European level. The team has helped to develop and pilot a European Union tool that enables issuing digital certificates of entire degrees. The tool is European Digital Credentials for Learning (EDC).

“Europe is driving the digitalisation of education data. The idea is to offer students verifiable digital data on their learning from basic to continuing education,” Pirkkalainen says.

At ECIU University, the studies individual member universities are offering to alliance members have been gathered to a joint digital platform. Students sign into the platform and choose the studies they want. When the studies have been completed, ECIU University issues a digital certificate of the study attainment using the EDC tool.

“An EDC cannot be forged, and it assures that the studies the student has completed meet the quality standards of ECIU’s member universities. They also detail the skills the students have acquired during the learning process,” Pirkkalainen notes.

For example, it is easy for a person applying for a job or a place to study to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and competences by attaching a digital credential to, for example, a Europass CV or a job application used in the European region. The employer or educational institution can rely on the accuracy of the acquired skills.

What is a digital credential?

The EU is developing citizens’ digital certificates from driving licences to diplomas. Only specific authorities can verify such official evidence with their signature. An e-seal is often used to issue digital credentials, which is the most tamper-free of all digital signatures. Attempting to forge a digital credential breaks the seal, meaning that forgery has been made very difficult. Block chains are also being piloted as an alternative way to issue digital credentials. At universities, digital credentials are used not only to become paperless, but also to make it easier to recognise prior learning and skills.

Read more on the ECIU University’s website.