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During a recent meeting, governments and stakeholders from over 40 European countries assessed progress within the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and set goals for its next work programme.

On 29-30 May, the EHEA Ministerial Conference, including a Global Policy Forum, took place in Tirana, Albania, resulting in the 2024 Tirana Communiqué.

Firstly, ministers adopted five new value statements on autonomy, academic integrity, participation of students and staff, responsibility of and for higher education – in addition to a statement on academic freedom endorsed in 2020. The Communiqué also confirms the establishment of a de-jure and de-facto monitoring process of these values, which is currently being piloted. As a member of the Bologna Follow-Up Group (BFUG) and its Fundamental Values working group, EUA has been contributing to the development of the statements and the monitoring approach. Moreover, the Association has called for “more emphasis on the development and dissemination of good practice between systems and institutions in supporting and safeguarding these values”.

The Ministerial Conference and resulting Communiqué also put a strong emphasis on the key commitments of the Bologna Process: recognition, qualifications frameworks and quality assurance. Insufficient implementation and ambiguity of application remains at the core of many of the challenges experienced in transnational mobility and interinstitutional collaboration, including within European Universities alliances. In Tirana, EUA Secretary General Amanda Crowfoot pointed to the importance of thoroughly implementing, and - where necessary – adjusting existing policies and instruments, rather than developing new ones.

The upcoming revision of the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG) is a concrete example of this. It will enable internal and external QA to better respond to ongoing changes, such as the development of new digital technologies, or micro-credentials.

During the meeting, the BFUG also reported on the implementation of the 2020 Principles and Guidelines to Strengthen the Social Dimension of Higher Education in the EHEA. As EHEA countries cannot agree to a common benchmark, a framework with indicators has been developed, which can help countries to assess and enhance their approaches to inclusion and equity in higher education.

The 2024 Bologna Process Implementation Report notably highlights the failure to reach the benchmark of 20% of graduates having had a mobility experience. Mobility is thus likely to be addressed in the upcoming 2024-2027 work programme, with consideration of factors such as the wider use of virtual exchanges and imbalances in mobility flows.

The next Ministerial Conference and Global Policy Forum will be held in Chisinau and Iaşi in 2027, with the EHEA Secretariat transferring to Moldova and Romania at the end of June.

Note: The Bologna Process is facilitated by the ongoing work of the Bologna Follow-up Group (BFUG), which brings together more than 40 European countries and all major European sectoral organisations, including the European University Association. In addition to bi-annual BFUG meetings, specific topics are followed up through working groups and task forces.


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