The Bologna Declaration was an agreement on the establishment of easily readable and comparable degrees, two main cycles (undergraduate and graduate), and a system of credits, to promote academic mobility, improve European cooperation in quality assurance and promote European dimensions in higher education.
After the signing of the Bologna Declaration, a follow-up structure was organised and it was decided that ministerial conferences should take place bi-annually. A general report was commissioned in order to monitor and report on the implementation of the objectives of the Bologna Declaration.
In May 2001, in Prague, ministers adopted the Prague Communiqué. It underlines the further need for work on the action lines agree in Bologna, however it also added important action lines such as the need for the involvement of the academic community in the Bologna Process, the importance of lifelong learning and the attractiveness of the European Higher Education Area.
Furthermore the importance of the social dimension was underlined, as was the fact of higher education as a public good and public responsibility.
Croatia, Cyprus, Lichtenstein and Turkey were accepted as new members and the Council of Europe, the European Students’ Union and the European University Association were included as consultative members.
At the Berlin ministerial conference held in September 2003, ministers added research as an important part of the Bologna Process. They added doctoral education as a third cycle to the degree structure and underlined the need for synergies between the European Higher Education Area and the European Research Area.
Seven new countries (Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Holy See, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro, and the “former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, turning the number of countries participating in the Process to 40.
At the Bergen ministerial conference in May 2005 it was decided that there is a need for prioritisation among the action lines and quality assurance, national frameworks for qualifications, joint degrees and flexible learning paths and recognition of prior learning became prioritised areas. Also the social dimension and mobility of students and staff was underlined as an important area to work more with. Ministers also shifted focus from future plans to practical implementation.
Five new countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) were admitted into the Bologna Process. The number of consultative members was also increased to include ENQA, Business Europe and finally also Education International’s European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE).
At the ministerial conference in May 2007 ministers decided to focus on mobility, the social dimension, data collection, employability, the European Higher Education Area in a global context and stocktaking for the time between 2007 and the 2009 ministerial conference.
Ministers adopted a strategy for the “Global Dimension” and gave the E4-group (the European University Association, the European Students’ Union, EURASHE and ENQA) a mandate to set up a European Register for Quality Assurances Agencies.
An increased focus was also directed towards the time beyond 2010.
After events unrelated to the Bologna Process, Montenegro was (re-)admitted to take part in the Bologna Process. That turned the number of countries taking part in the Process to 46.
The ministerial conference held in Leuven/Louvain-la-Neuve in April 2009, naturally, focussed much of its attention on what has been achieved so far in the Bologna Process, as well as on the time beyond 2010.
The major discussions revolved around setting benchmarks for the number of students that should be mobile in the European Higher Education Area and around the possible work with so-called transparency tools for the EHEA. Ministers agreed that in 2020 at least 20 % of those graduating in the EHEA should have had a study or training period abroad.
The Communiqué outlines areas where Ministers see a need for work in the coming decade, those are; the social dimension, lifelong learning, employability, student-centred learning, research and innovation also connected to education, international openness, mobility, multidimensional transparency tools and funding. It is noticeable that these areas cover rather large parts of higher education policy, they also slightly divert from the more technical nature that the Bologna Process have had up until now.
Education International was given the opportunity to give its view on the ongoing work and future needs. EI focussed on the inclusion of higher education staff in the work with the Bologna Process, on staff working conditions, on mobility and finally also warned against the use of classifications and rankings. The speech is available here.
The European Higher Education Area (EHEA) was officially launched at the 10th Bologna Ministerial Conference, celebrated on 11-12 March in Budapest and Vienna.
The Budapest-Vienna Declaration on the EHEA, adopted by the Ministers, takes note of EI’s assessment and contributions to the discussions, and expresses its commitment to working towards “a more effective inclusion of higher education staff and students in the implementation and further development of the EHEA” and to “fully support staff and student participation in decision-making structures at European, national and institutional levels”. The Declaration also recognises that “a more supportive environment” for the academic staff is needed and reaffirms that higher education is “a public responsibility”.
On this occasion, a new member country was admitted to the EHEA: Kazakhstan. This raised the total number of countries to 47.
EI contributed to the discussions by means of the statement to the Bologna Anniversary Ministerial Conference. It has also published a study under the title “Enhancing Quality”, outlining higher education staff unions’ perceptions of the implementation of the Bologna Process”.