The Bologna process
An intact and growing system of higher education and the excellent performances, which European universities must produce, is the basis for those processes, on which the knowledge-based society is based, in order to achieve the strategic goals that the European Council declared in Lisbon:
„To make the European Union into the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economic area in the world.“
In April 1997 a Convention was adopted by the Council of Europe and UNESCO on recognition of qualifications in the European higher education area. This so-called Lisbon Convention came into force on 1 February 1999.
On the occasion of the 800-year celebrations of the University of Paris on 25 May 1998 the four education ministers from Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom signed the so-called Sorbonne declaration. The undersigned ministers thereby manifested the basis for improved cooperation in the higher education area.
In June 1999 a total of 29 European education ministers signed the Bologna declaration with the aim of creating a European higher education area by 2010.
In particular the following points, which should be implemented by 2010:
- Creation of a system of easily understandable and comparable final degrees and introduction of the
- Introduction of a two-level system of final degrees
- Introduction of a system for accumulation and assessment/transfer of study credits (according to ECTS)
- Mobility of students, teachers and researchers
- Quality assurance
- A European dimension for higher education
In the Prague Communiqué, which was issued on the occasion of the meeting of the European ministers for higher education on 19 May 2001 in Prague, the current goals of the Bologna process were strengthened and supplemented to include 3 further aims:
- Promotion of lifelong learning
- Promotion of participation on the part of students in the shaping of the European higher education area
- Promotion of the attractiveness of the European higher education area
During the conference of the European education ministers in September 2003 in Berlin, extension of the catalogue of goals agreed in the Berlin Communiqué was agreed and specific implementation projects to take place by 2005 were identified.
- Promotion of quality assurance
- Introduction of a system of study, which is basically founded on two main cycles
- Introduction of a system of easily understandable and comparable certificates
- Introduction of a study credit system (ECTS)
- Participation by students in the Bologna process
- Promotion of the European dimension in the field of further education
- Increase in the attractiveness of the European higher education area on a global scale
- Embedding in the concept of lifelong learning
- Inclusion of doctorate education in the Bologna process
The following main issues are being agreed on in order to support achievement of goals by 2010:
- A two-level system of study
- Recognition of final degrees and intermediate levels of qualification
- Quality assurance
A positive decision was made at the Bergen conference on 19 and 20 May 2005 to accept the new member countries Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldavia and Ukraine. During the course of the conference, presentation was made of the Stocktaking report agreed in Berlin as well as the General Report of the European Bologna Follow-Up Group “From Berlin to Bergen” which reports on the scheduled progress the 40 countries that are now participating in the meanwhile in Bologna. The European Trade Union Confederation (EI) and the European Employer’s Association (UNICE) have been appointed as advisory members, as well as ENQA, the European Association for Quality Assurance.
A request was made for progress reports on the following additional main issues for the next conference in London in May 2007:
- Implementation of the standards and guidelines agreed on in Bergen for quality assurance
- Creation of a national qualification framework;
- Awarding and recognition of joint certificates, including doctorates;
- Creation of a flexible learning range on offer in the higher education area, including procedure for
recognition of knowledge gained previously.
Furthermore, greater consideration should be taken of the social interests of the student, especially those from socially disadvantaged groups.
The development of a national action plan is suggested for the recognition of final degrees and intermediate levels of qualification.
The Diploma supplement
A supplement to the diploma has been developed by the European Commission, the Council of Europe and UNESCO along with the European Centre for Higher Education (CEPES).
The Diploma supplement (DS) is a description of the type, level, context, content and status of a course of study, which the person named in the original certificate, which the supplement is appended to, has graduated from and successfully completed.