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On 11 and 12 March, education ministers of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) convened for an ‘extraordinary summit’ to celebrate ten years of Bologna reforms. The gathering was held in Budapest and Vienna and it included a transfer between the cities on a special ‘Bologna train’, as well as a ball in Vienna (incontournable). Being celebratory in nature, the meeting was not expected or intended to produce major new policy directions. Yet, ministers admitted Kazakhstan as a new member, and they looked back on achievements and remaining tasks. In taking stock, they were supported by the newly released Trends Report (Trends 2010: a decade of change in European Higher Education), the results of an ‘independent assessment’ of the Bologna Process (by CHEPS, INCHER and ECOTEC) and EURYDICE’s Bologna impact study (for details on these studies, see the publication’s section). The meeting’s communiqué, the ‘Budapest-Vienna Declaration’, stresses, next to unquestionable achievement, the need for full Bologna implementation, particularly in the areas of degree and curriculum reform, quality assurance, recognition and mobility, and the social dimension (partly in reaction to the ‘independent assessment’). Ministers promised to “listen to the critical voices raised among staff and students” and acknowledged that “adjustments and further work are necessary”. They agreed on additional measures to intensify peer learning, organise study visits and enhance mutual information.
The gathering was held back-to-back with the second ‘Bologna Policy Forum’, where EHEA higher education ministers met their counterparts from outside the Bologna area. This gathering produced a communiqué too, the ‘Bologna Policy Forum Statement’. Discussions centred around ‘brain circulation’ and cooperation and competition in international higher education. In the future, EHEA ministers and their global counterparts will institutionalize their dialogue, by appointing contact persons.
The next ministerial meeting will be held in Romania in April 2012. It will include another Bologna Policy Forum.