Creation of the European Higher Education Area
Bologna process is the process of creation of the European Higher Education Area. The process started on June 19, 1999 when 29 European Ministers responsible for higher education signed the Bologna declaration in which they undertake to create a European Higher Education Area. The creation of the European Higher Education Area should be completed by 2010.
The main objectives of the Bologna declaration are to increase the mobility and employability of European higher education graduates thus ensuring competitiveness of European higher education on the world scale.
Fully respecting the richness of the European cultural diversity and thus also the diversity of higher education systems, Bologna declaration seeks to articulate the European higher education around two main cycles. Employability of graduates should be ensured already after the first cycle.
Mobility of graduates around the whole European Higher Education Area is only possible if recognition of degrees earned is ensured. This is supposed to be done through increasing transparency of educational systems and trust among the educational systems that in turn will be based upon quality assurance of programmes and institutions.
Issuing of of the Joint European Diploma Supplement to all graduates and usage of a credit system (ECTS or compatible) are seen as the main tools for transparency. While the European Credit transfer System (ECTS) in the past was used only for credit transfer after spending a study period at another institution, it should now become a credit accumulation system. Besides credit accumulation in regular higher education programmes, such system should also provide possibilities to gain credits within informal and non-formal education, thus taking on board lifelong learning.
Bologna declaration aims to increase mobility of students and staff across the European Higher Education Area. Achieving this goal will also require identification and solution of a number of social issues.
Addition of European dimension to programmes is another tool for reaching the Bologna goals. Establishing joint programmes and offering degrees by institutions from different countries seems to support reaching several goals of Bologna declaration and will therefore be further developed.
The ministers have decided to meet every two years to:
- reconfirm the objectives,
- analyze the results and
- set guidelines for the next period".
The first ministerial meeting after Bologna took place in Prague on May 17, 2001
The next ministerial meeting is scheduled on September 18 -19, 2003 in Berlin