Module 6.Studying in the European Higher Education Area.

Part 1: The instititutiona settings.

2. From the Bologna Declaration to the Bologna Process: contents, goals and instruments.

The Bologna Declaration (1999), signed by 29 national ministries of education, aims at making curricular structures, academic degrees and quality assurance standards more comparable, compatible and mutually recognizable throughout Europe. As a result, the so-called European Higher Education would become a reality; this new learning environment is also believed to boost students’ and graduates’ mobility throughout the Bologna participating countries, as their prior qualifications and degrees achieved in one country will be recognized for accessing further studies in a different country. Qualifications and mutual recognition of degrees are also meant to promote and foster mobility in the labour market, favouring graduate employability in the European territory. On the whole, the Bologna Declaration aims at engaging signatory countries in the adoption of a common policy framework to be reached in the short term and in any case within the first decade of the third millennium.

These broad aims have been further and better specified in three sub-goals; these specific objectives are the core of the Bologna Process and they are to be implemented in the year 2010 (2020 after the last Ministry meeting in Belgium):

  1. «Adoption of a system of easily readable and comparable degrees in order to promote European citizens employability and the international competitiveness of the European higher education system». This means countries should adopt common terminology and standards;
  2. «Adoption of a system essentially based on two main cycles, undergraduate and graduate. Access to the second cycle shall require successful completion of first cycle studies, lasting a minimum of three years. The degree awarded after the first cycle shall also be relevant to the European labour market as an appropriate level of qualification. The second cycle should lead to the master». This is the curricular structure called Bachelor-Master (BA-MA) system;
  3. «Establishment of a system of credits (the European Credit Transfer System – ECTS) as a proper means of promoting the most widespread student mobility».


These objectives are «of primary relevance in order to establish the European area of higher education and to promote the European system of higher education world-wide».

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