The Bologna Process

The Bologna Process involves 46 European countries undertaking a series of reforms intended to create an integrated European higher education area by 2010. Signatories to the agreement have worked towards greater consistency in areas such as degree structures, credit transfer and quality assurance systems.

Ministers responsible for higher education in the Bologna countries meet every second year to measure progress and set priorities for action. After Bologna (1999), they met in Prague (2001), Berlin (2003), Bergen (2005), London (2007), Leuven/Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium, (April 2009), Vienna and Budapest (April 2010). Last year marked the 10th anniversary of the Process. The next ministerial meeting is scheduled to occur on 26–27 April 2012 in Bucharest, Romania.

The Australian response

 

2009 Bologna Policy Forum

Australia’s active engagement with the Bologna Process was recognised with an invitation to the first Bologna Policy Forum that took place on 29 April 2009 at the University of Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgium) in conjunction with the 2009 Bologna Ministerial Conference.

The Forum was the first of its kind to be organised between ministers of the 46 Bologna countries and colleagues from different parts of the world, reflecting the growing interest in the Bologna Process from countries outside Europe. It also reflected the increasing interest of European countries in developing closer links with other higher education systems.

The countries represented at the 2009 forum were Australia, Brazil, Canada, People’s Republic of China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Tunisia, the US, as well as the International Association of Universities.

Australia’s statement to the Forum offered comments on Australia’s interest in the Bologna Process and the opportunity to engage in the Process in future dialogues.

Participants noted that the Policy Forum helped foster mutual understanding and learning in the field of higher education and laid the ground for sustainable cooperation in the future in the statement from the Bologna Policy Forum

2010 Bologna Policy Forum

An Australian delegation attended the second Bologna Policy Forum held in Vienna during March 2010. The dialogue covered systematic and institutional changes in higher education in the developing global knowledge society. A debate occurred which focussed on how higher education systems and institutions respond to growing demands and multiple expectations. Further topics were discussed regarding mobility of staff and students, including the challenges and opportunities of "brain circulation" and the balance between cooperation and competition in international higher education.

See the full Budapest-Vienna Declaration on the European Higher Education Area.

Bologna Ministerial Advisory Group

The Ministerial Advisory Group on Bologna was established in 2007 as a part of Australia's response to the Bologna Process of higher reform in Europe. The Bologna Ministerial Advisory Group (BMAG) has the objective of assisting both the government and the sector in staying abreast of Bologna developments and anticipating issues for Australia. Members of the Group share an interest in Bologna Process developments. Bologna is of interest to Australia for multiple reasons, including that it represents a significant internationalisation process and is designed to improve mobility for students and graduates.

The second meeting of BMAG was held on 19 March 2009 at Macquarie University. The terms of reference for BMAG were to monitor and foster debate on developments with regard to the Bologna Process and related activities in Europe; to provide advice to the Minister for Education, Employment and Workplace Relations on the Bologna Process; and to anticipate and provide leadership on Bologna and related activities for the Australia’s higher education sector.

Items discussed were:

  • the European Qualifications Framework
  • European higher education area
  • the Tuning Project
  • ranking systems
  • mobility
  • key policy directions from the Bradley Review of Higher Education and Cutler Review of the National Innovation System
  • regional cooperation and harmonisation
  • Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes (AHELO)
  • Australian Higher Education Graduation Statements.

The third meeting of BMAG was held on 1 February 2010 at the Hyatt Hotel in Canberra. The main objective of the meeting was to provide advice for the minister on the aims and objectives for Australia’s participation at the Bologna Policy Forum in Vienna.

Items discussed were:

  • recent developments in Bologna and Europe
  • mobility and employabilitiy issues in Australia
  • Melbourne model
  • implications for professional qualifications
  • tuning process
  • ALTC standards project
  • international rankings
  •  Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF)
  • AHELO
  • Australian Higher Education Graduation Statement.

Members of the 2010 BMAG were:

Professor Steven Schwartz (Chair)

Vice Chancellor
Macquarie University

Emeritus Professor Ingrid Moses

Chancellor
University of Canberra

Professor Ian Young  Vice-Chancellor and President
Swinburne University of Technology
Professor Jane den Hollander Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)Curtin University of Technology
Professor Helene Marsh

Convenor, Council of Deans and Directors of Graduate Studies in Australia
Dean of Postgraduate Studies
James Cook University

Mr Malcolm Farrow

Chief Executive Officer
Professions Australia

Mr Ben Vivekanandan

Manager, Policy and Research
Australian Council of Private Education and Training

Ms Carla Drakeford

President
National Union of Students

Ms Tammi Jonas

President
Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations

Ms Fiona Buffinton

Group Manager
Higher Education Group, DEEWR

Ms Di Weddell

Branch Manager
International Group, DEEWR

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Diploma Supplement

The Diploma Supplement is a European initiative that aims to describe a higher education qualification in an easily understandable way and relate it to the higher education system within which it was issued.

There is widespread and increasing use of the Diploma Supplement across Europe, much of which is driven by students and other stakeholders who recognise its value in describing qualifications in a way that is clear to potential employers and other higher education institutions.

Under the Lisbon Recognition Convention (ratified by Australia in 2002), Australia has an international obligation to promote the widespread use of a Diploma Supplement by Australian tertiary institutions. In Australia the Diploma Supplement is known as the Australian Higher Education Graduation Statement (AHEGS).

The Australian Higher Education Graduation Statement

 

Australian Higher Education Graduation Statement implementation

In September 2009 the Hon Julia Gillard MP, Minister for Education, made an announcement, committing funding of $3.7 million for the implementation of the Australian Higher Education Graduation Statement (AHEGS) in Australia in the form of $100 000 grants to publicly funded Australian universities. There have been two funding rounds for the implementation of the AHEGS. Twenty-seven universities received grants as a part of the 2008 funding round, and the remaining ten universities will also be implementing the AHEGS over the next few years.

The implementation of the AHEGS in Australia will mean Australian awards are more likely to be well understood internationally, increasing Australian graduates' international mobility for further study or employment purposes and sharpening further Australia's competitiveness in the international education export market.

Adoption of the AHEGS in Australia will also support the achievement of the common goal agreed to by ministers attending the Asia-Pacific Education Ministers’ Meeting in April 2006, of increasing greater student and academic mobility and transferability of qualifications.

The first AHEGS will be presented to graduates at selected universities from 2009 onwards and is expected to be provided to graduates at all universities by the end of 2011.

For further information on the AHEGS initiative, please refer to the AHEGS webpage.

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Additional resourses

Below are a number of useful resources for understanding the Bologna Process and its global, regional and national implications.

Useful links and information

The Official Bologna Process website provides information and news about developments in the Bologna Process and about the work program. News and events’ updates are added to the website on an ongoing basis. 

The UK HE Europe Unit  provides an overview of the Bologna Process, outlining functions, historical development, actions lines and present developments of the Bologna Process. It also includes a number of useful links to other websites and research resources.

The Euractiv website provides basic information on the Bologna Process, as well as information on related issues, such as eLearning and lifelong learning.

The European Commission website on Education and Training  provides a European Union perspective on the Bologna Process, as well as general information on the Process.

The National Union of Students in Europe (ESU) website releases documents on the effect of the Bologna reforms on students at the European level.

The Academic Co-operation Association (ACA) website focuses on European cooperation in education and training by monitoring developments through publications, news and events.

The European Universities Association (EUA) website provides an overview of its work in helping establish a European Higher Education Area (EHEA) through the Bologna Process, as well as a Bologna Basics and a Bologna Handbook publications.

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Declarations, communiqués and conventions

 

Declarations

  • Bologna Declaration (1999) (pdf 23kb)
    The Bologna Process was formally initiated in 1999 with the signing of the Bologna Declaration by 29 European countries. Since then, a series of meetings has been held to set objectives and review the Process. The following declarations and communiqués document the progress of the Bologna Process.
  • Sorbonne Joint Declaration (1998) (pdf 16kb)
    The Sorbonne Declaration, which focussed on facilitating academic mobility and harmonising educational structures within Europe, was a precursor to the Bologna Process.

Communiqués

Conventions

  • Salamanca Convention (2001) (pdf 20kb)
  • Graz Declaration (2003) (pdf 99kb)
    The Salamanca Convention and the Graz Declaration, which were written by the European Universities Association (EUA), have also contributed to the Bologna Process. These documents were prepared for the Prague (2001) and Berlin (2003) meetings on the Bologna Process and detail the goals, principles and priorities of over 300 European higher education institutions and peak bodies.
  • Lisbon Recognition Convention (1997) (pdf 142kb)
    The Lisbon Recognition Convention, or the Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region, is the one legal instrument specifically acknowledged in the Bologna Process. Its ratification by all member countries is regarded as one of the necessary conditions for the success of the Process.

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