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Date of print: 01/06/23

Student-centred learning and the teaching mission of higher education 2009-2012

Student-Centred Learning

Student-centred learning (SCL) is an approach to education, which aims at overcoming some of the problems inherent to more traditional forms of education by focusing on the learner and their needs, rather than being centred around the teacher's input.  This approach has many implications for the design and flexibility of curriculum, course content, and interactivity of the learning process and is being increasingly used at universities across Europe.

The concept of SCL was initially a theoretical model defined as such by pedagogy and education researchers, though attempts at empowering the learner to enhance the educational process have probably always existed wherever educators have strived to improve and reform.

Inclusion in the Bologna Process

Student-centred learning is not among the thematic areas that have been tackled directly in the Bologna Process from the onset. However, many of the priority work plan themes discussed early on in the Bologna Process tackled aspects that helped make learner-centred education more of a reality. This included flexibility tools such as ECTS, mobility, improved recognition, qualification frameworks and others. Also, parts of the ministerial conference communiques reaffirmed the importance of the educational mission of universities.
Student-centred learning was fully taken into the process during the Leuven/Louvain-la-Neuve ministerial conference, in 2009. This constituted an important reassertion of the teaching mission of Higher Education, which – while central to the creation of a coherent European Higher Education Area – had been often overlooked in the development of the Bologna Process.

We reassert the importance of the teaching mission of higher education institutions and the necessity for ongoing curricular reform geared toward the development of learning outcomes. Student-centred learning requires empowering individual learners, new approaches to teaching and learning, effective support and guidance structures and a curriculum focused more clearly on the learner in all three cycles. Curricular reform will thus be an ongoing process leading to high quality, flexible and more individually tailored education paths. Academics, in close cooperation with student and employer representatives, will continue to develop learning outcomes and international reference points for a growing number of subject areas. We ask the higher education institutions to pay particular attention to improving the teaching quality of their study programmes at all levels. This should be a priority in the further implementation of the European Standards and Guidelines for quality assurance.


The joint European Students' Union / Education International project “Time for a New Paradigm in Education: Student Centered Learning" (T4SCL) is based on the long-standing need to clarify and deepen the understanding of the academic community and policy makers' of the practical implications of the recent paradigm shift from teacher to student centered learning.

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The launch of the Student-Centred Learning Toolkit took place at the T4SCL stakeholders Forum on 14th October 2010.

This toolkit is designed for effective, practical implementation of Student-Centred Learning by teaching staff, students and institutional leaders. It aims to show how practical and achievable Student-Centred Learning is, as well as being highly beneficial for learners.

2010 T4SCL Stakeholders Forum Leuven - Student-Centred Learning Toolkit