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Life after "deadline"? Bologna in the next decade

2010 is approaching fast, and in less than two years the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) should be up and running. While huge progress has been made in these 9 years since the declaration in Bologna, it is clear that not everything has been or will have been achieved by 2010.

Following a mandate received in the London ministerial meeting in 2007, the Bologna Follow-up Group (BFUG) has come up with some proposals for a ‘Bologna beyond 2010’ -strategy. The proposal gives priority to the completion of the existing action lines, recognising however that several new challenges will be facing European higher education in the next decade. One of the key observations is that while much of the structural reform is already in place, there needs to be a move from structure to practice, e.g. from changing the length of degrees to developing curricula based on learning outcomes. Also a better understanding of the reforms, both within institutions as well as among stakeholders, needs to be further promoted. Student mobility remains an important issue to be addressed in the post-2010 ‘Bologna’. Indeed, to compensate for the inherent inflexibility of shorter and more structured degrees, the BFUG proposes that degrees should proactively provide “mobility windows” to encourage student exchange, based on full recognition of credits.

It is also important, according to the BFUG, to promote information on the EHEA in non-participating countries, and to enhance international policy dialogue on the reform process. However, the European Higher Education Area is not looking into widening its membership: in fact, as membership is limited to the signatories of the European Cultural Convention, only three more countries are eligible to join the process officially. The proposal by the BFUG foresees however the creation of specific mechanisms to cooperate with those countries that will not be eligible to join the Process but show a special interest in it. 

New challenges for after 2010 include among others the design of new higher education provision compatible with the ICT era; mainstreaming of lifelong learning to respond to the challenges posed by an ageing population; and the need for alternative funding for higher education institutions. In terms of structures of the process itself, the BFUG proposes that the current structures be maintained, including a ministerial conference in 2-3 year intervals up until 2020, when it will have to address, no doubt, the question of ‘Bologna beyond 2020’.