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Focussing on competences promotes the development of easily readable and compatible degrees and thus promotes transparency in European education. The Tuning Project considers that degrees are comparable and compatible if the learning outcomes as well as the academic and professional profiles are comparable.

Comparability differs from homogeneity and, referring to academic and professional profiles, it is clear that diversity is not a draw back but an asset. The definition of professional profiles relates to the needs of society and social needs and demands are very varied. This requires consultation with social groups and the requests of professional bodies at local, national or international level (in accordance to the aims of the degree) need to be taken into consideration. It is in this context that consultations are important.  These consultations can be done in a variety of ways and in every case, the most appropriate form and shape should be sought. This paper presents the findings of the consultations made by the Tuning Project as a tool for reflection to obtain up-dated information about the needs of society.

It has to be stressed that profiles are not only professional but also academic. Relating to academic institutions, degrees are expected to fulfil the requirements of the academic community at national and international levels.  Looking for a common language to express academic and professional profiles, the Tuning Project considers that the language of competences can be useful for expressing comparability in terms of what the degree holders would be able to perform.  It can also express common points of reference for the different subject areas, offering a non prescriptive framework of reference for the academic community (in this case the European Academic Community) in a language which can be understood by European social groups, professional bodies and any other stakeholders in society.

Consultation becomes even more necessary in the "society of knowledge" which is, obviously, also a "society of learning". This idea is intimately linked with the understanding of all education in a wider context: the continuum of lifelong learning, where the individual needs competences to be able to handle knowledge, to update it, to select what is appropriate for a particular context, to learn permanently, to understand what is learned in such a way that it can be adapted to new and rapidly changing situations.

Change and variety of contexts both require a constant check on social demands for professional and academic profiles. This underlines the need for consultation, and constant revision of information on adequacy. Besides, the language of competences, since it comes from outside higher education, could be considered more adequate for consultation and dialogue with groups not directly involved in academic life. This contributes to the necessary reflection for the development of new degrees and for permanent systems of updating existing ones.

Thus, in the reflection on academic and professional profiles, competences emerge as an important element which can guide the selection of knowledge which is appropriate to particular ends. It presents an integrative capacity to choose what is appropriate from a wealth of possibilities.

The emphasis on learners obtaining a particular competence or set of competences also affects the transparency in the definition of objectives set up for a particular educational program, adding indicators with higher possibilities for being measured , while making these objectives more dynamic in taking into consideration the new needs of society and ultimately relating to employment. This shift normally shows a change in the approach to educational activities, teaching material and a great variety of educational situations, since it fosters the systematic involvement of the learner with individual and group preparation of relevant issues, presentations, organized feedback, etc.