GEAR (Greece Exploring Advanced Recognition in higher education), aims at tracking recognition processes of modules and incur simplifications in their conduction. Just like a gear gives speed, GEAR will endeavour to tackle obstacles in the intricate recognition processes, since recognition is a pre-condition for large-scale academic mobility and a complementary tool guaranteeing internationalisation. While increased international mobility has cross-fertilized higher education, challenges persist. With the 2012 Bucharest Communiqué and the 2015 Yerevan Communiqué, Education Ministers committed to removing hindrances to recognition and to the corner stone of implementation of agreed structural reforms. Tools like the DS, the ECTS, learning outcomes and Quality Assurance are a prerequisite for mobility, joint programmes, bilateral agreements and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) partnerships. However, non-implementation of these rudiments accounts for the lack of credibility of the EHEA even among its members. GEAR will gain an accurate perspective on the situation in Greece and assist in the improvement of recognition by engaging all relevant stakeholders, i.e. incoming and outgoing students, the administrative staff and the academic personnel. Ultimate beneficiary of a quality higher education system is of course the society. Often, the gap between policy and practice has hampered improvement. Frequently, despite an existing legislative framework, lengthy and time-consuming managerial processes at institutional level or multifaceted definitions of the same policy measure have held back from stirring change, acting as a deterrent for students and a barrier to their mobility. GEAR aspires to review national legislative context where necessary, spot down policy challenges through an exhaustive survey and strengthen the links between policy and implementation by means of seven in-situ workshops with the view to enhancing recognition procedures concerning the modules.

GEAR has outlined a thorough working plan to achieve its objectives based on major milestones, qualitative and quantitative indicators and an approach of combined actions. Specifically: An initial survey on the current status of recognition processes will be conducted to collect data on the legislative framework by consulting with important policy makers and stakeholders (Ministry, representatives of HEIs, the Hellenic Quality Assurance and Accreditation Agency and the Hellenic NARIC). It will address ECTS/DS, learning outcomes, quality issues, mobility issues and joint programmes. The survey will involve three methods of compiling data:

1. A SWOT analysis report by the experts’ team to track weaknesses and opportunities

2. A series of semi-structured interviews and exchange of ideas (with members of the academic community, credential evaluators in HEIs, representatives from the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) and the Erasmus Mundus Coordinators, current and former incoming foreign students and persons in charge of bilateral agreements and Erasmus Mundus partnerships or even Promoters of European Programmes at secondary education for the sake of continuity from a more holistic point of view as regards education, in order to identify recurrent recognition issues when it comes to mobility)

3. An e-questionnaire to be sent to all Greek HEIs (22 Universities and 14 Technological Educational Institutes all over Greece) and ensued later on by a report by the experts.

A Peer learning Activity (PLA) will follow with experts from the EHEA via a selective process based on relevance with the central theme, geographical distribution, country size balance, etc. The EHEA countries will be Belgium (Flemish Community), Finland and France. It is expected that exchange of good practice and experience will be of added value for GEAR. Afterwards, 7 small-scaled focused insitu workshops based on regional proximity will take place in 6 peripheral Greek HEIs (Thessaloniki, Crete, Kalamata, Patras, Aegean area, Thrace)  and one in Athens (Ministry of Education) to transfer good practices from the PLA and the survey and exchange ideas with the people involved in the daily process of recognition. The final output will be a guide with best practices, data stemming from the report of the survey and the in-situ workshops, weaknesses and opportunities that will be officially presented in the Rectors and Presidents of the Higher Technological Institutions’ Councils and is expected to stir debate on recognition processes at the highest institutional level. The final central European Conference will attract key note speakers, representatives and policy makers of high caliber, aiming at disseminating GEAR efforts, as well as representatives from all Greek HEIs

The major milestones of the project are:

An exhaustive multidimensional survey comprising of a SWOT analysis, a thorough consultation and interview process with higher education stakeholders (policy makers, representatives of the student population and the Erasmus Student Network) and an equestionnaire to be filled in by all Greek HEIs.

A peer learning activity 7 in-situ workshops covering all the geographical area of Greece (Thessaloniki, Crete, Kalamata, Patras, Aegean area, Thrace, Athens)

A European Central conference

A short Guide on recognition processes to be presented to the top hierarchy of administration of HEIs in Greece (the Rectors and Presidents of the Higher Technological Institutions’ Councils)

4. Coordination meetings between the key staff team and experts’ team that will convene approximately every six months to discuss on the development and implementation of the project

Participation to the final EACEA meeting.