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European Parliament publishes report on the Bologna Process

On 9 February, the European Parliament (EP) published a report entitled The Contribution of the European institutions to the consolidation and progress of the Bologna Process. The “rapporteur” of the report is Luigi Berlinguer, an Italian MEP, a former education minister of Italy and one of the signatories of the original declaration on the European Higher Education Area (Bologna Declaration).

Somewhat surprisingly given the promise of the title about the “role of the European institutions”, the report provides an assessment of past achievements (and failures) and future needs of the Bologna Process not only (or mainly) with a view to EU institutions, but also to national governments, higher education institutions, students, faculty, staff and stakeholders. It covers a wide range of issues, some of which are only faintly related to the European Higher Education Area. Focal areas are the recognition of qualifications (and qualification frameworks), quality assurance, employability, curricular matters, the social dimension and staff and student mobility. The latter two appear closest to the heart of the rapporteur, taking considerable space.

The report oscillates between major policy questions and minute technical detail and is, for this reason alone, impossible to summarise. Still, the following items are of note.

  • Unsurprisingly, assessment of past performance is mixed. The Bologna Process has achieved much, but there is also plenty of unfinished work.
  • It was a mistake to start the process in a top-down manner. A revitalised Bologna Process should be organised bottom up, to assure buy-in from institutions, faculty and students.
  • There should be an annual progress report, based on “updated and comparable data”. This report should allow for comparisons between single countries and universities.
  • The EHEA should be progressively expanded, particularly to Europe’s neighbours around the Mediterranean Sea.
  • The next Ministerial Meeting (Bucharest, April 2012) should draw up a detailed “road map” for the achievement of the Bologna aims by 2020.

The report also contains some curious items. It demands a “right to graduate” for every student in the EHEA (regardless of achievement?). It calls for a strategy for the “full harmonisation of academic titles” across the EHEA. It calls for automatic recognition of credits earned abroad (which was already a requirement in ERASMUS 25 years ago). And it demands that the European Commission funds the modernisation of “university infrastructures”, which it is probably legally not entitled to do.

European Parliament