The Bologna Process is an intergovernmental higher education reform process that includes 49 European countries and a number of European organisations, including EUA. Its main purpose is to enhance the quality and recognition of European higher education systems and to improve the conditions for exchange and collaboration within Europe, as well as internationally.
Launched in 1998-1999, the Bologna Process established goals for reform in the participating countries, such as the three-cycle degree structure (bachelor, master’s, doctorate), and adopted shared instruments, such as the European Credits Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) and the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG).
When the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) was announced in 2010, all participating parties agreed to continue the Bologna Process, as many of the established goals were not fully implemented in all countries. Over the years, the Bologna Process has grown into a Europe-wide policy platform for coordinated higher education reform. It addresses new topics, such as fundamental values and learning and teaching; as well as its longstanding commitments, which require continued attention.
EUA believes in the added value of the EHEA, as a means to enhance European higher education collaboration and exchange and to provide better education to a growing and more diverse studentship. Since its beginning, EUA has been engaged with the Bologna Process as a Consultative Member in the Bologna Follow-Up Group (BFUG), representing universities.
Bringing the Bologna Process closer to the universities, and ensuring that it provides tangible improvement, is a key goal. EUA engages in dialogue and cooperation with members and partners, also beyond Europe, to explain and promote the Bologna Process, and to contribute to building the frameworks and conditions European universities need to thrive.
EUA supports the Bologna key commitments to ensure that all countries fully implement the three-cycle system, quality assurance, and the smooth recognition of qualifications and study periods. EUA works on a wider range of issues that are of central importance for the EHEA and its universities, such as mobility, governance, learning and teaching, and the social dimension of higher education. A central goal is to enable and enhance compliance and complementarity with the European Union’s European Education and Research Areas.
As the Bologna Process enters its third decade, EUA invites members and partners to join forces to ensure its success.
On 19 November 2020, the EHEA Ministerial Conference took place, resulting in the Rome Communiqué. It addresses the Bologna Process’s 2030 vision and sets the agenda for the working period 2021-2024, with the secretariat and the Ministerial Conference to be hosted by Albania.
In its 2020 statement published ahead of the Ministerial Conference, EUA called for the Bologna Process to better address social inclusion and equity, as well as university values, and welcomed the Bologna Process’s stronger emphasis on the transformation of learning and teaching, amongst other things.
Since 1999, the EUA Trends Reports have provided data and analysis on how the Bologna Process reforms are implemented at universities across Europe. The reports, which are usually published in conjunction with the EHEA Ministerial Conferences, are based on questionnaires to university leaders, complemented by focus groups and interviews. They provide an institutional perspective to European higher education policy discussions, and have become an important source of information for policy makers and the higher education community alike.
The 2018 Trends report focused on mapping developments in learning and teaching, a topic that is becoming ever more important at institutions and in policy discussions across Europe. EUA plans to issue the next Trends Report in time for the 2024 EHEA Ministerial Conference.
EUA has been an active contributor to the Bologna Process since its start 20 years ago. The present position paper welcomes the recent progress in the development of the European Higher Education Area, on the occasion of the Bologna Process Ministerial Conference on 19 November.
In recent years, higher education provision has been changing rapidly, including the mainstreaming of e-learning, the emergence of micro-credentials, the launch of the European Universities Initiative, and the renewed importance of the third mission of higher education institutions.
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