Bologna Process

The Bologna Process is the name given to the process of higher education reform in the greater European region. Although the European Commission is a consultative member of the Process, the reform movement is much broader than the 27 countries of the EU; there are currently 47 signatory countries of the Bologna Process. The Process is voluntary; there are no legal mandates that require countries to participate. 

European Higher Education Area (EHEA) 

With the adoption of the Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region in Lisbon in 1997, 33 signatory countries became legally required 

In essence, the Bologna Process facilitates the recognition of foreign academic degrees and qualifications. The goals of the Process are to enable students and higher education graduates to more easily move from one country to another, increase the attractiveness of Europe as a place to study and/or work, and promote peace and stability in the region. By signing the Bologna Declaration, each country’s minister affirmed the nation’s intention to:

  • Adopt a system of easily readable and comparable degrees;
  • Adopt a system essentially based on two main cycles, undergraduate and graduate;
  • Establish a system of credits (e.g. ECTS)
  • Promote the mobility of students, teachers, researchers and administrative staff;
  • Promote European cooperation in quality assurance;
  • Promote the European dimensions in higher education, particularly regarding curricular development and inter-institutional cooperation.

The trajectory of the Bologna Process included the establishment of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) by 2010. By many accounts, this goal is still to be fully implemented. Assessments of the Process acknowledge substantial progress made toward harmonization since 1999 while recognizing areas of further improvement.

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Bologna Declaration

Ministerial Communiqués (2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009) 

UNESCO is a consultative member the Bologna Follow-Up Group (BFUG), composed of representatives of all member states and responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Process goals. As a global organization, UNESCO is uniquely situated among the consultative members to connect the EHEA with higher education systems and regional conventions throughout the world.  

The BFUG working group on International Openness works to promote the European Higher Education Area as an attractive place for people from outside the region to study and/or work. The BFUG working group on Recognition works to make recognition efforts more coherent across the EHEA and to improve recognition with other parts of the world.

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