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The EU Commission invested considerably in the development of the European Student Card (ESC) as a key means to implement and realise the European Educational Area by 2025. The ESC provides for a consolidated and reliable mechanism for students’ authentication, exchange of students’ data and interoperability among EU Higher Education Institutions (HEI) to guarantee access to students’ services to streamline and facilitate mobility.

Despite progress in the development of the ESC, its adoption across EU HEIs is still lagging due to operational and implementation challenges. The adoption of the ESC is not a mere use of a logo or is not limited to the issuance of a card: adopting the ESC imposes considerable technical, administrative and organisational requirements on HEIs. To Implement the ESC, HEIs have to “adopt the card” and “adapt the students’ services” to ESC modalities. Such “adoption” and “adaption” processes have technology as well as administrative and operational aspects that are still limiting the use of the ESC.

Progress on the roll-out of the ESC is a pressing need clearly recognised by the EU, so much so that ESC adoption is a key priority of Erasmus+. While technology and ICT requirements for the ESC are available, what is currently missing in the Member States are clear operational guidelines for HEIs to address the administrative and organisational challenges for ESC adoption.

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