Module 6.Studying in the European Higher Education Area.

Part 1: The instititutiona settings.

3. The Bologna follow-ups: updating and expanding the Bologna Process.

The progression of the Bologna Process has evolved through the so-called Bologna follow-ups (or communiqués) held by European ministries of education every 2 years: Prague (2001), Berlin (2003), Bergen (2005), London (2007), the last one held in Leuven/Louvain-la-Neuve in Belgium on 28-29 April 2009.

A primary result of these follow-up meetings was that the number of signatory countries, which has shown an increase: in 2001 there were 33 members, in 2003 38, in 2005 43 and finally in 2007 they have reached 46 members. This expansion means that all European countries are now engaged in the convergence Processs, together with some other countries such as Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Thus, the list of signatories updated to 2007 is the following:

  1. Albania
  2. Andorra
  3. Armenia
  4. Austria
  5.  Azerbaijan
  6.  Belgium
  7.  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  8.  Bulgaria
  9.  Croatia
  10.  Cyprus
  11.  Czech Republic
  12.  Denmark
  13.  Estonia
  14.  Finland
  15.  France
  16. Georgia
  17. Germany
  18. Greece
  19. Holy See
  20. Hungary
  21. Iceland
  22. Ireland
  23. Italy
  24. Latvia
  25. Liechtenstein
  26. Lithuania
  27. Luxembourg
  28. Malta
  29. Moldova
  30. Montenegro
  31. the Netherlands
  32. Norway
  33. Poland
  34. Portugal
  35. Republic of Macedonia
  36. Romania
  37. Russia
  38. Serbia
  39. Slovakia
  40. Slovenia
  41. Spain
  42. Sweden
  43. Switzerland
  44. Turkey
  45. Ukraine
  46. United Kingdom

 

Bologna follow-ups provide new data, updated agendas and new members’ integration. Here we present these elements closely related to our field of interest: the students’ study experience in Europe.

The Prague Communiquè in 2001 introduced two new areas related to study experiences in Europe:

  1. the focus on life-long learning: in a knowledge-based society and economy, lifelong learning strategies are necessary to face the challenges of competitiveness and rapid changes in knowledge base, to respond to different professional profiles and skills, the use of new technologies, to improve social cohesion, and to promote equal opportunities and quality;

 

  1.  promotion of the attractiveness of the European Higher Education Area: a goal to be pursued not only within the European boundaries, but worldwide. The readability and comparability of European higher education degrees world-wide should be enhanced by the development of a common framework of qualifications, as well as by coherent quality assurance and accreditation/certification mechanisms and by increased information efforts.

The Berlin Communiquè in 2003 included doctoral courses as the third cycle in European new study structures and promoted links between the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and European Research Area (ERA). Hence, synergies between teaching and research became a new priority action line.

The Bergen Communiquèin 2005 focused on the adoption of the Framework for Qualifications of the EHEA, characterized by:

•   An overarching, generic framework with three cycles (“including, within national contexts, the possibility of intermediate qualifications”);
•   Generic qualifications descriptors for each cycle based on learning outcomes and competencies (Dublin descriptors);
•   Typical credit ranges in the first and second cycles;  

Ministers also called for the creation of national qualifications frameworks to be compatible with the Framework by 2010.

Finally the London Communiquè in 2007 stressed the importance of HE social dimension. Ministries agreed to report back in 2009 on national measures to strengthen their participation in HE. Mobility was re-stated as one of the key objectives of the Bologna Process. Ministries called upon Eurostat and Eurostudent to develop comparable and reliable indicators to measure progress in increasing staff and student mobility.


Figure 1 shows a synoptic synthesis of the main stages in the Bologna Process and its contents (with the exclusion of London Communiquè, since it re-supported previously stated objectives):  

Fig. 1: Bologna Process phases. Source: Eurydice, Focus on the Structure of Higher Education in Europe 2006-2007

In the light of the enhancement of students exchange from the North African and Middle Eastern regions, we must take into account recent political development in European policies. A key element is the Mediterranean Union launched in Paris by European premiers on 13th July 2008. The goal of this new union is to cooperate on several objectives, mainly economic and political, however, effort will also be encouraged to promote and strengthen North African and Middle Eastern students’ mobility in Europe and viceversa.

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