Case Study I Digital certificates for the recognition of non-formal education

Digital certificates for the recognition of non-formal education

Presented by: HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht

Industry: Higher Education

Location: Utrecht, Netherlands

Size: +250 employees


  • Digitisation and portability of the qualification and certification processes
  • Lifelong learning and certification


The University of Applied Science Utrecht joined the national Dutch pilot programme on Edubadges (digital certificates) to experiment and award students and professionals who completed extra-curricular achievements, as part of their UAS Honours programme. The initiative answers a broader need to achieve lifelong learning with modular programmes and increased flexibility for learning pathways.

The pilot programme is implemented by a group of universities that also meets to share their experience and addresses important technical, legal, privacy, and communication issues related to the awarding of digital certificates.

The technical infrastructure used is supported by Surf — an IT cooperation organisation of educational and research institutions in the Netherlands. In practice, teachers can now issue Edubadges in a few clicks for any student affiliated with the platform so they can add it to their digital wallet.


380 learners have achieved 713 learning outcomes and 110 Edubadges have been awarded by 12 teachers through the platform.

The results from this Edubadges proof of concept are used to develop a pilot programme to issue Microcredentials. While Edubadges are used to award non-formal education, Microcredentials will be used for formal education with the issuing of ECTS credits.

Key benefits:

  • An easy-to-use platform to award Edubadges
  • Simple digital recognition of knowledge that is portable
  • Eases the identification of acquired skills and knowledge for students and potential employers — if recognised

Key resources:

  • Involvement of legal, security, and IT departments of the university
  • Teachers need to be trained on how to use the platform (0,5 hours)
  • API connecting the Student Information System of the university and the platform to facilitate the issuing of badges
  • Quality assurance processes and recognition of the Edubadges by third parties