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Do labour markets welcome shorter tertiary degrees?

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by Dirk Van Damme
Head of the Innovation and Measuring Progress Division, Directorate for Education and Skills



At the turn of this century, two different models of higher education programmes prevailed in the world. The first mainly consisted of three- or four-year programmes leading to a first qualification – a bachelor’s degree – sometimes followed by a “postgraduate” programme at the master’s level. This model predominated in the United States, the United Kingdom and most other English-speaking countries. The second model, prevalent in Europe, entailed long, integrated programmes – in some fields of study, six, seven or even eight years long - leading to a plenitude of qualifications. Emerging economies in Asia mainly copied the American model, while Latin-American countries mainly followed the model of the European colonising powers.

Sixteen years later, the global landscape of higher education looks much different. What happened is that the continental European model transformed …