Higher Education Student Experience and a Portfolio for Developing Democratic Competences: Values and Reflections in an Internationalized Context

Document Type : Original Article


1 University of Sheffield, UK

2 Universidad de Valladolid, Spain

3 Jönköping University, Sweden


This article reports on Higher Education student experiences of engaging with the concepts, values and activities in an adapted pilot version of the Council of Europe’s Portfolio of Competences for Democratic Culture.  Our aim was to explore how this portfolio could serve as a learning tool in an internationalized context for higher education students. The contributions of 32 students undertaking Masters’ programs in a UK university were analyzed by the authors. These are discussed in relation to student development of democratic competences, focusing on citizenship, values and the Portfolio as a learning tool. Participant contributions showed a strong emphasis on valuing cultural diversity together with development of awareness and confidence in owning both the concepts and the process of being a citizen. We conclude that the Portfolio can be seen as a tool for empowerment through validation of participants’ personal experiences and as structural support in articulating these.