Opening up to the wider world
The external dimension of the Bologna Process

Hamburg, 17-19 October 2004 

Theme

How did the conference tackle the theme of Europe’s global attractiveness in the Bologna context? First, it  reviewed the “cornerstones” (core elements) of the ongoing reforms, with a view to the needs emanating from the demand for increased attractiveness and competitiveness. Second, it looked at additional measures which are in line with the “spirit” of the Declaration, but which it does not explicitly mention.

  • The first section addressed the “cornerstones” of the Bologna reform, i.e. the introduction of a two-cycle degree structure, the introduction of quality assurance and accreditation system, the introduction of credit point systems and the enhancement of mobility. The section was guided by the overarching question in which way exactly these reforms will help to improve the reputation and attractiveness of European higher education in the world, and what kind of fine-tuning might be needed in order to get even beyond current achievements. European experts with a long standing experience in global cooperation in higher education, as well as experts from other world regions, delivered their views on these items.
  • The second section addressed the question which additional measures are necessary to promote European higher education in other world regions, and the Bologna Process itself. Issues to be looked at in this section are European-level information and marketing measures in non-European countries (and their link to national and institutional marketing campaigns), the creation of more internationally attractive programmes (e.g. such taught in major world languages), ways to increase mobility into Europe (e.g. scholarship programmes and the reduction of structural barriers), and the “export” of key “state-of-the-art European education products” (ECTS, double/joint degrees, etc.).

Both sections took up points raised in the Prague and Berlin declarations, such as the role of a common framework of qualifications. In what way will such a framework, together with quality assurance and accreditation mechanisms or increased information efforts, “enhance the readability and comparability of European higher education degrees world-wide”? Last but not least, “Regional sessions” with experts from other world regions clarified the impact of the Bologna reforms in other world regions, namely Latin America, Asia, Africa, the (non-signatory) states of the former Soviet Union, the US and Australia.

The Conference not only aimed at raising awareness of the external dimension of the Bologna Process, but also was to function as a stocktaking mechanism for the progress so far achieved. Furthermore, ACA aimed to provide a forum for participants and speakers from Europe and other world regions which would result in the creation of new initiatives regarding the addressed issues.