For more information, please visit our website at www.microcreds.ie
- Jools O’Connor, IUA MicroCreds Programme Lead
- Dr Emma Francis, IUA MicroCreds Project Officer
- David Corscadden, IUA MicroCreds Digital Engagement and Communications Officer
Provide a short description of the project
MicroCreds is an ambitious 5-year, €12.3 million project (2020-2025) led by the Irish Universities Association (IUA) in partnership with seven IUA universities: University College Dublin, University College Cork, University of Limerick, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University, University of Galway and Maynooth University.
Micro-credentials are small, accredited courses designed to meet the demands of learners, enterprise and organisations, created by IUA partner universities in consultation with enterprise. Micro-credentials provide learning opportunities which offer a highly flexible, bite-sized and an accessible way of upskilling and reskilling.
We will be the first European country to establish a coherent National Framework for quality assured and accredited micro-credentials. IUA project partner universities are collaborating to develop, pilot and evaluate the building blocks required for a transformation in lifelong and life-wide learning through micro-credentials. Micro-credentials developed at partner universities will set the standards for excellence in flexible and agile learning.
We are working in partnership together with learners and our Enterprise Advisory Group, comprising senior enterprise members from business representative organisations, enterprise agencies, private sector companies and state bodies with responsibilities for skills to change thinking about and engagement structures with university learning. We are focusing on learners who are seeking to upskill, reskill, return to employment or change careers.
MicroCreds has 4 key deliverable strands:
- Strand 1: Develop the architecture of the national framework for micro-credentials.
- Strand 2: Develop MicroCreds Innovate a structured process for meaningful and data-informed collaboration with enterprise.
- Strand 3: Develop a Discovery Portal for learners and enterprise to provide information and gateway access to a curated menu of all micro-credentials across the seven partner universities and to explore being an early adopter of Europass.
- Strand 4: Agilely developed and flexibly delivered suite of micro-credentials across partner universities, designed to recognise institutional variance, enabling each to develop a portfolio consistent with its own strengths and missions and within its own enterprise eco-system and regional context.
The MicroCreds framework follows the definition of the European Council Recommendation for a European Approach to Micro-Credentials for Lifelong Learning and Employability (2022). Our micro-credentials are small courses, accredited by one of our partner universities with learning outcomes which are assessed against transparent standards. They range in credit size from 1-30 ECTS with the majority of offerings at either 5 or 10 ECTS. Micro-credentials are at levels 6,7,8 and 9 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ).
Highlight interesting collaborations / partnerships
Notable Collaborative Partners:
Academic: Quality and Qualifications Ireland, National University of Ireland, Higher Education Colleges Association, Technological Higher Education Association, Higher Education Authority, HCI Pillar 3 projects, Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, European Universities Association, European University Alliances (including; CHARM, ENLIGHT, UNIC, ECIU), University of Coventry, Advance HE, HEAnet, Quality Agency for New Zealand, European Association of Distance Teaching Universities, LOTUS, MENA, European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education, National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, European Association of Institutions in Higher Education, MICROBOL, Bologna Follow-up Group, Netherlands Organisation for International Cooperation in Higher Education, Scottish Qualifications Authority.
Other: European Commission, Europass, Education and Skills Attaché of the Permanent Representation of Ireland to the European Union, European Banking and Training Network, HSE Quality and Patient Safety Directorate, Department for Education UK Government, Amazon Web Services, LinkedIn, Elucian, FutureLearn, OpenLearn, eCampus Ontario, Education Procurement Service, Prosple, Folk Wunderman Thompson, EdX, Coursera, ICON Plc, IDA Learnovate, MicroQuest, European Association of Regional and Local Authorities for Lifelong Learning, CrowdClass, UNESCO-MEXT, Unibuddy, Folk Wunderman Thompson, Group M, Curio London.
Skills Architecture: Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, National Skills Council, Regional Skills Fora, Skillnet Ireland, SOLAS, Small Firms Association, Ibec, Screen Skills Ireland, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Cedefop, SwissCore, United Nations Institute for Training and Research.
Provide a brief summary of the project’s key enterprise engagements
The Enterprise Advisory Group (EAG) comprises diverse enterprises, covering priority sectors. Membership comprises senior personnel from Ibec, IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Skillnet, Northern Trust, Glanbia, Cpl, ISME, SFA, Regional Skills Fora, Microsoft, etc.
The group is Chaired by Tony Donohoe, Chair of EGFSN, and functions to;
- Embed enterprise-informed development, increasing universities’ capacity to anticipate, understand and respond to emerging skills needs.
- Develop awareness amongst member networks about micro-credentials and the MicroCreds project.
MicroCreds adopts an evidence-based approach to micro-credentials development. A dynamic and sustainable model of enterprise engagement for micro-credential development has been created by MicroCreds; MicroCreds Innovate. The format provides space to explore enterprise-informed development in a focused way. Events to-date have centered on the following thematic areas: Zero Carbon, Digital Transformation & Artificial Intelligence, SME Productivity and Focus on SMEs. Further MicroCreds Innovate events are planned with the next event (April’23) aligning with the upcoming BioPharmaChem EGFSN report. Future events during 2023 will explore transversal skills, food, agriculture and a deeper exploration into the SME sector.
MicroCreds Innovate feedback provides important insights into how enterprise views MicroCreds and micro-credentials, including;
- High levels of interest from enterprise as a flexible way to attract new staff, and upskill, reskill and retain existing staff.
- Growing awareness (from an initial low level), noting more work to be done.
- Very strong support from enterprise in advocating for and supporting MicroCreds.
- Clarity around pricing and value proposition is crucial, particularly around ROI for SMEs.
Micro-credentials, and specifically the MicroCreds project, are meaningfully addressing national government strategies, across skills, HE and other policy areas. MicroCreds is effective in advocating across several national skills reviews and assessments in recent times, emerging as key recommendations for addressing and arming learners with enterprise-relevant skills for developing and priority technologies.
Key Achievements To Date
- Establishment of a national framework for micro-credentials which was formally adopted by IUA Registrars group in March 2022.
- Establishment of a sustainable system for enterprise-university collaboration, MicroCreds Innovate.
- Creation of a MicroCreds Communications Working Group to drive awareness and uptake of micro-credentials in Ireland.
- Undertaken key research activities, such as the Gensis Report in 2021, to better understand the needs of enterprise and decision process of learners interested in undertaking micro-credentials
- Development of a new national platform for micro-credentials, microcreds.ie, which is launching April 2023.
- Development and delivery of a suite of approximately 300 micro-credentials across partner universities addressing a wide range of topics and specific skills needs.
- Progressed the dialogue on lifelong learning at both an Irish and European level to support the mainstreaming of uptake.
Websites / social media
- Website – microcreds.ie
- LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/company/microcreds/
- Twitter – https://twitter.com/IUAMicroCreds
- MicroNet Consortium – iua.ie/micronet
Find out more
- IUA MicroNet Launch Event: https://www.iua.ie/events/micronet-inaugural-peer-learning-forum-14th-dec-11am/
- IUA’s submission to the European Commission Consultation on Micro-credentials – https://www.iua.ie/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/IUA-submission-to-the-European-Commission-Consultation-on-Micro-credentials.pdf
- EU Council Recommendation on a European approach to micro-credentials for lifelong learning and employability – https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-9237-2022-INIT/en/pdf
- MicroCreds: A ‘bite-size’ learning approach to fix industry skills shortages (News Coverage) – https://www.siliconrepublic.com/careers/microcreds-irish-universities-skills-shortages-ects-accredited-courses
- Ireland is leading the way in the micro-credential revolution (Editorial) – https://www.businessnews.ie/education/ireland-is-leading-the-way-in-the-micro-credential-revolution/
- Micro-credentials In Context: Empower Webinar Week (Presentation) – https://www.slideshare.net/EADTU/emma-francis-irish-universities-association-microcreds-innovate-dynamic-enterprise-collaboration-for-micro-credentials
- (Publication) Francis, E., Ramsey, L., Trench Bowles, N., Purser, L. (2021). Learner Focused Multi-campus Micro-credentials: Lessons from Irish Universities (MicroCreds). I·HE2021 – Higher Education in the new normal: the role of online, blended and distance learning. Proceedings of the Innovating Higher Education Conference 2021. https://i-he2021.exordo.com/files/papers/86/final_draft/Full_Paper_IHE2021_20.10.2021.pdf
Last updated: Monday 24 April 2023