Written by Joanna Hughes

As we approach the 20th anniversary of the Bologna Declaration, a recently released report from The European Higher Education Area investigates the state of the Bologna Process’s implementation. Its findings? While progress has been made toward a unified European higher education system, there’s still a ways to go.

About the Bologna Process

Initiated in 1999, the Bologna Process is “a collective effort of public authorities, universities, teachers, and students, together with stakeholder associations, employers, quality assurance agencies, international organizations, and institutions, including the European Commission.”

Its aim? To introduce the three cycle system comprising bachelor, master and doctorate degrees; boosting quality assurance; and promoting easier recognition of periods of study and qualifications.

Why it Matters

The Bologna Process was conceived with the goal of increasing compatibility between European education and training systems to enhance academic and professional mobility across the content. It also seeks to improve the competitiveness and attractiveness of European higher education systems while ensuring that they’re meeting the evolving needs of today’s job market.

Where it Stands

While reports show that much has been done to implement necessary reforms, the 2018 “Bologna Process Implementation Report” calls for ongoing efforts.

Specifically, says Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, priorities remain. “How do we recognize and reward good teaching as well as good research? How do we ensure that young people from disadvantaged backgrounds can access and successfully complete higher education? How do we remove burdensome recognition procedures to ensure that students and graduates can be mobile? And how do we increase the relevance of higher education programmes for a labor market that is in a state of permanent transformation?” he asks.  

To that end, Navracsics says the European Commission is working to create a European Education Area by 2025 through which EU member states will work even more rigorously toward mobility, multilingualism, innovation, and mutual recognition.

The Bologna Process, meanwhile, will continue to “provide a space” to navigate these challenges toward stronger European higher education cooperation.

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.
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