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Bologna Process London Ministerial Summit

The long anticipated London Ministerial meeting on the Bologna Process, the fifth in a formal series of ministerial check points prior to 2010, took place on 17-18 May in London. Uniting ministerial delegations from the 45 Bologna signatory countries, the European Commission, as well as consultative organisations (Council of Europe, EUA, European Students' Union, Teachers Union, and Business Europe) and non-European government representatives, this meeting reviewed the major steps taken in the Bologna reform agenda since the Bergen meeting (2005) and set goals for the next two years and beyond. Noteworthy in the Communiqué was the emphasis placed on the "external dimensions" of the Bologna Process, a question that ACA has tackled in its policy analysis as well as its consultative role on the BFUG for this issue. The ministers decided that:

  • formal strategy ‘The European higher education area in a global setting’ is to be launched;
  • strategy will focus on improving information on and promoting the attractiveness and competitiveness of the EHEA, strengthening external partnerships, improving recognition, and strengthening policy dialogue

Other important points in the Communiqué included the following:

  • Montenegro was welcomed as a new member of the Bologna Process;
  • the recognition of higher learning and general good practice in recognition were targeted as follow up projects.
  • the register of European higher education quality assurance will continue to be developed as a voluntary, self-financing, independent, and transparent tool;
  • emphasis was put on funding for early stage researchers and encouraging innovative cross-national doctoral programmes.

Finally, the priorities for 2009 were laid out as such:

  • articulating social dimensions plans via national strategies;
  • data collection on mobility and the social dimension- focusing on participative equity in higher education and employability of graduates;
  • European higher education in a global context.

Meeting attendees commented that the notion of beyond 2010’, a forward looking vision of the changing international environment in which the Bologna Process is evolving, was a prevalent topic of discussion. Changing demographics as well as technological advancement will alter the way perceive the role of the institution, who it serves, and how. It was also noted that the Bologna Process seems to have naturally evolved from a top-down ministerial accord to a bottom-up institutional effort, guided by governments in a more supportive fashion.

The next ministerial meeting will take place in Leuven/ Louvain-la-Neuve on 28-29 April 2009.