The Bologna Process

Following the initiative of the education ministers of Italy, France, Germany and the UK to reform European higher education systems expressed in the ‘Sorbonne- Declaration’,[1] the education ministers of 29 European countries[2] officially launched the Bologna Process with the ‘Bologna Declaration’ in 1999.[3] The Bologna Declaration is not legally binding and, with 48 countries involved at present, the Bologna Process goes far beyond the EU.[4] The overall aim of the

Bologna Process was to establish an internationally competitive ‘European Higher Education Area’ (EHEA) by 2010 which was specified through long-term and intermediate targets in regular ministerial meetings. Additionally, a follow-up group tasked with facilitating the development of the process was set up. It contains, alongside representatives of the Bologna countries and the Commission (which joined as a member in 2001), representatives of the Council of Europe, the European University Association (EUA), the European Students Union and other organisations.[5] The main features include the achievement of a common three- cycle study structure (undergraduate, master and doctoral level), the standard issuing of diploma supplements, the implementation of a module system, the usage of the ECTS, the establishment of national qualification frameworks describing the qualifications available and the introduction of quality assurance.[6] At the 2009 Leuven conference it was agreed to proceed with the Bologna process until 2020, as it was generally regarded as successful by the participating countries.[7] Consequently, in 2010 the EHEA was officially launched at the meeting in Budapest-Vienna.[8] The last Bologna ministerial meeting was held in 2015 in Yerevan (Armenia) the commitments of which included a strong focus on mobility (including the promotion of portability of grants, professional recognition and staff mobility) and the next meeting is planned to take place in France in 2018.[9]

  • [1] Sorbonne Joint Declaration on harmonisation of the architecture of the European highereducation system by the four Ministers in charge for France, Germany, Italy and the UnitedKingdom, Paris, the Sorbonne, 25 May 1998.
  • [2] The 15 EU Member States of the time, the countries which became Member States in 2004and 2007 except Cyprus as well as Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. On the beginnings of theBologna Process see Eurydice 2010, p. 9 seq.
  • [3] Joint declaration of the European Ministers of Education of 19 June 1999.
  • [4] For the latest up-dates of the Bologna Process see French Bologna Secretariat (2016)Bologna Process—European Higher Education Area Accessed 4 March 2016. For more detailed information and evaluations seeEuropean Commission/EACEA/Eurydice 2015.
  • [5] On the history and set up of the Bologna process see Hummer 2005, p. 49 seq; Eurydice2010, p. 9 seq.
  • [6] See Hummer 2005, p. 47 seq; Van der Ploeg and Veugelers 2007, p. 21 seq; Eurydice 2012,p. 7 seq.
  • [7] Communique of the Conference of European Ministers Responsible for Higher Education,Leuven and Louvain-la-Neuve, 28-29 April 2009 para 1, 24.
  • [8] Budapest-Vienna Declaration on the European Higher Education Area 12 March 2010 para 1.
  • [9] Yerevan Communique of the EHEA Ministerial Conference of 14-15 May 2015.
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