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Bologna with student eyes 2012

Just before the meeting of education ministers of Bologna signatory countries, the European Students’ Union (ESU) published the fourth edition of Bologna with Student Eyes. Earlier reports of the series appeared in 2003, 2007 and 2009. ESU characterises the study as an “independent analysis of the Bologna Process implementation through a critical appraisal of the state of play of the programme that aims to reform European higher education”, though the piece has, in parts, the character of a tract.

 ESU reconfirms that it subscribes to the aims and objectives of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), but it sees many shortcomings in its implementation. “Progress has not yet caught up with the expectations propagated by the commitment and targets set by the ministers”, the report states, and “development over the past three years…has not been satisfactory in a number of cases”. Unsurprisingly, much of ESU’s criticism is directed at social imbalances in European higher education. This refers to access to and success in higher education, as well as student mobility (which is said to suffer from a lack of funding and lukewarm approaches to the portability of grants and loans). ESU’s criticism on the “social dimension” is particularly scathing: despite constant promises to the opposite, no targets have been set in this area and no indicators identified.

ESU is the umbrella organisation of 47 national student unions in 38 European countries. It was founded in 1982 (as WESIB) and promotes “the educational, social, economic and cultural interests of students at the European level”. The organisation successfully lobbied for the inclusion of student and social issues in the Bologna agenda at the 2001 ministerial meeting in Prague.