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THE EUROPEAN HIGHER EDUCATION AREA: FROM BERLIN TO BERGEN Compendium of reference documents PART THREE – Contributions by other organisations Directorate General IV: Education, Culture and Heritage, Youth and Sport (Directorate of School, Out-of-School and Higher Education/Higher Education and Research Division) INTRODUCTION The purpose of the present document is to provide an extensive and easily accessible collection of reference documents for the European Higher Education Area. All documents are provided in the language of origin only. Contributions by other organisations .............................................................. 3 European University Association ...................................................................................................... 4 Trends 2003: Progress towards the European Higher Education Area - Bologna four years after: Steps towards sustainable reform of higher education in Europe .................................................. 4 Trends II report - Towards the European higher education area : survey of main reforms from Bologna to Prague ........................................................................................................................ 17 Trends I report – Trends and issues in learning structures in higher education in Europe .......... 22 ESIB – the National Unions of Students in Europe ......................................................................... 25 ESIB and the Bologna Process – Creating a European Higher Education Area for and with students ........................................................................................................................................ 25 Student Göteborg Declaration ..................................................................................................... 34 Contributions by other organisations European University Association Trends 2003: Progress towards the European Higher Education Area - Bologna four years after: Steps towards sustainable reform of higher education in Europe A report1 prepared for the European University Association by Sybille Reichert and Christian Tauch Executive summary2 Aims of the study This study aims to capture the most important recent trends related to the Bologna reforms. It is a follow-up to the two Trends reports which were written for the Bologna Conference in 1999 and the Prague Conference in 2001. Unlike the two first reports, which were mainly based on information provided by the ministries of higher education and the rectors’ conferences, Trends 2003 tries to reflect not only these two perspectives but also those of students, employers and, most importantly, the HEIs themselves, thus giving a fairly comprehensive picture of the present phase of the Bologna Process. If the EHEA is to become a reality, it has to evolve from governmental intentions and legislation to institutional structures and processes, able to provide for the intense exchange and mutual cooperation necessary for such a cohesive area. This means that higher education institutions are heavily and directly involved in the development of viable interpretations of concepts which were and are sometimes still vague, even in the minds of those who use these concepts most often. Concrete meaning needs to be given to: - the term “employability” in the context of study programmes at Bachelor level; - the relation between the new two tiers; - workload-based credits as units to be accumulated within a given programme; - curricular design that takes into account qualification descriptors, level descriptors, skills and learning outcomes; - the idea of flexible access and individualised learning paths for an increasingly diverse student body; - the role of higher education inserting itself into a perspective of lifelong learning; - the conditions needed to optimise access to mobility; and last but not least, to - meaningful internal and external quality assurance procedures. We may thus assert from the outset that this study emphasises the need for complementarity between the top-down approach applied so far in the Bologna Process, with the emerging bottom-up process in which higher education institutions are already playing and should continue to play a key role - as expected of them by the ministers when they first met in Bologna. Institutional developments in line with the objectives of the Bologna Process are not only emerging rapidly, but also represent challenges worthy of our full attention, as this study hopes to prove. 1 The report has been funded with support from the European Commission through the Socrates programme. This publication reflects the views of the authors only, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. 2 The full report can be found at : http://www.eua.be/eua/jsp/en/upload/Trends2003final.1065011164859.pdf Awareness and the support of the Bologna Process Awareness of the Bologna Process has increased considerably during the last two years. Nevertheless, the results of the Trends 2003 survey and many other sources suggest that, despite this growing awareness among the different HE groups, the reforms have yet to reach the majority of the HE grass-roots representatives who are supposed to implement them and give them concrete meaning. Deliberations on the implementation of Bologna reforms currently involve heads of institutions more than the academics themselves. Hence, interpreting Bologna in the light of its goals and the whole context of its objectives at departmental level, i.e. rethinking current teaching structures, units, methods, evaluation and the permeability between disciplines and institutions, is a task that still lies ahead for a majority of academics at European universities. Administrative staff and students seem so far to be even less included in deliberations on the implementation of Bologna reforms. Generally, awareness is more developed at universities than at other higher education institutions. In Estonia, Lithuania, Sweden, Germany, Ireland and most strongly the UK, deliberations on institutional Bologna reforms are even less widespread than in the other Bologna signatory countries. This does not mean, of course, that no reforms are being undertaken, but that if there are reforms they are not explicitly associated with the Bologna Process. In the case of Sweden, for instance, reforms along the lines of the Bologna Process are often not carried out in the name of Bologna. In the light of the scope of the Bologna reforms, which involve not only all disciplines but different groups of actors in the whole institution, it should be noted that only 47% of universities and only 29,5% of other HEIs have created the position of a Bologna coordinator. There is however widespread support for the Bologna Process among heads of HEIs. More than two thirds of the heads of institutions regard it as essential to make rapid progress towards the EHEA, another 20% support the idea of the EHEA but think the time is not yet ripe for it. However, some resistance to individual aspects and the pace of the reforms obviously remains. Such resistance seems to be more pronounced in Norway, France, the French-speaking community of Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Portugal, Ireland and the UK. Though some South East European (SEE) countries have not yet formally joined the Bologna Process, they already take it as a reference framework and actively promote its objectives. The role of higher education institutions in the Bologna Process While being mostly supportive of the Bologna process, 62 % of university rectors and 57% of heads of other HEIs in Europe feel that institutions should be involved more directly in the realisation of the Bologna objectives. Moreover, 46% of HEI leaders find that their national legislation undermines autonomous decisionmaking – at least in part. Particularly in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and SEE, higher education representatives and rectors' conferences point to the limits of autonomous decision-making by institutions. While many governments have made considerable progress with respect to the creation of legal frameworks which allow HEIs to implement Bologna reforms, only half of them seem to have provided some funding to the HEIs for these reforms. The lack of financial support for the Bologna reforms is highlighted by nearly half of all HEIs of the Bologna signatory countries. This means that the Bologna reforms are often implemented at the cost of other core functions or essential improvements. 75% of all heads of HEIs think clear financial incentives for involvement in the Bologna reforms should be provided. Obviously, the dialogue between rectors and academics, institutions and ministry representatives has to be intensified, beyond the reform of legislation, including both the implications of Bologna reforms at institutional level and the State support needed to foster these reforms, without detriment to other core functions of higher education provision. The role of students in the Bologna Process At 63% of universities in Bologna signatory countries, students have been formally involved in the Bologna Process, through participation in the senate or council or at faculty/departmental level. The same trend is valid for the non-signatory countries in SEE. A significantly lower degree of formal participation in the Bologna Process at institutional level can be noted in Greece, Portugal, Slovenia, Iceland and the UK. Half of the students, as represented by their national and European student associations, feel they are playing a very or reasonably active role in the construction of the European Higher Education Area. At institutional and particularly at departmental level, the inclusion of students in the deliberations concerning a qualitative reform of teaching and learning structures, methods and evaluation in the spirit of the Bologna Declaration still leaves considerable room for improvement. Student representatives express the highest hopes concerning the principles of the Bologna reforms and the harshest criticism concerning their implementation and frequently reductive interpretations. The students' contribution to the deliberations on the Bologna reforms has been particularly strong on issues of the social dimension of higher education and the emphasis of HE as a public good, and in connection with discussions of the possible consequences of GATS on higher education institutions. Students have also continuously stressed the values of student-centred learning, flexible learning paths and access, as well as a realistic, i.e. empirically-based, estimation of workload in the context of establishing institution-wide credit systems. Academic quality and graduate employability as compatible aims Enhancing academic quality and the employability of graduates are the two most frequently mentioned driving forces behind the Bologna Process according to the representatives of ministries, rectors' conferences and higher education institutions. A remarkable consensus has been reached at institutional level on the value of the employability of HE graduates in Europe: 91% of the heads of European higher education institutions regard the employability of their graduates to be an important or even very important concern when designing or restructuring their curricula. However, regular and close involvement of professional associations and employers in curricular development still seems to be rather limited. HEIs should be encouraged to seek a close dialogue with professional associations and employers in reforming their curricula. However, fears of short-sighted misunderstandings of the ways in which higher education should aim at employability and relevance to society and the economy have reemerged frequently in the context of comparing and redesigning modules or degree structures. To do justice to the concerns of stakeholders regarding the relevance of higher education and the employability of HE graduates, without compromising the more long-term perspective proper to higher education institutions and to universities in particular, may well be the most decisive challenge and success-factor of Bologna-related curricular reforms. It should be noted that the growing trend towards structuring curricula in function of the learning outcomes and competences, is often seen as a way to ensure that academic quality and long-term employability become compatible goals of higher education. This understanding has also been the basis for the project “Tuning Educational Structures in Europe“ in which more than 100 universities have tried to define a common core of learning outcomes in a variety of disciplines. Promotion of mobility in Europe While outgoing and incoming student mobility has increased across Europe, incoming mobility has grown more in the EU than in the accession countries. A majority of institutions report an imbalance of outgoing over incoming students. Net importers of students are most often located in France, The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and, most strongly, in Ireland or the UK where 80% of the institutions report an imbalance of incoming over outgoing students. Teaching staff mobility has increased over the last three years at a majority of higher education institutions in more than two thirds of the signatory countries. Public funds for mobility have been increased in the majority of EU countries but only in a minority of accession countries. However, the number and level of mobility grants for students is not sufficient to allow for equal access to mobility for those from financially less privileged backgrounds. Comparable and European-wide data on all mobility (including free movers), including students' financial and social conditions, is urgently needed in order to allow monitoring of any progress in European mobility and benchmarking with other regions in the world. Attractiveness of the European Higher Education Area and the national higher education systems Enhancing the attractiveness of the European systems of higher education in the non-European world is a third driving force of the Bologna Process, ranked by Trends III respondents after improving academic quality and preparing graduates for a European labour market. The EU is by far the highest priority area for most institutions (mentioned by 92%). The second priority area is Eastern Europe (62%), followed by US/Canada (57%), Asia (40%), Latin America (32%), Africa and Australia (24% and 23%) and the Arab World (16%). In some European countries, the priorities diverge considerably from this ranking, notably in the UK, Spain, Germany and Romania where Europe is targeted significantly less often. In order to promote their attractiveness in these priority areas, joint programmes or similar cooperation activities are clearly the preferred instrument (mentioned by three quarters of all HEIs). Only 30% of HEIs mention the use of targeted marketing for recruiting students, with the notable exceptions of Ireland and the UK where more than 80% of universities conduct targeted marketing. A majority of countries have developed national brain drain prevention and brain gain promotion policies. Most HEIs still have to define their own institutional profiles more clearly in order to be able to target the markets which correspond to their priorities. In light of the competitive arena of international student recruitment, HEIs will not be able to avoid targeted marketing techniques if they want to position themselves internationally, even if such efforts may go against the grain of established academic culture and habits. Higher education as a public good A large consensus appears to exist in the emerging EHEA regarding Higher Education as a public good and a public responsibility. It is widely recognised that social and financial support schemes, including portable grants and loans, and improved academic and social counselling are conditions for wider access to higher education, more student mobility and improved graduation rates. However, the conflict between cooperation and solidarity, on the one hand, and competition and concentration of excellence, on the other, is currently growing as HEIs are faced with decreasing funds. Higher education institutions can try to combine widened access, diversified provision and concentration of excellence, but often have to pursue one option to the detriment of the others. In competing with other policy areas for public funding, HEIs still have to convince parliaments and governments of the vital contribution of HE graduates and HE-based research to social and economic welfare. Higher Education in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) Only one third of the ministries have developed a policy on the position of Higher Education in the World Trade Organisation's General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), while two thirds have not. The situation is similar for the rectors’ conferences. Only 20% of HEI leaders declared themselves to be fully aware of the GATS negotiations, almost half of these leaders considered themselves to be aware without having specific details, and 29% said they were not yet aware of GATS, with considerable differences between countries. Students’ associations seem to be well aware of GATS and the threats posed by the further inclusion of HE in the on-going negotiations. There is a consensus that more transparency and consultation of higher education representatives is needed in the ongoing and future GATS negotiations. To meet the internationalisation challenges, there is a growing need for enhanced quality assurance procedures and regulatory frameworks, also given the emergence of many private for-profit institutions in Europe. Degree structures, qualifications framework and curricula Regarding the introduction of study structures based on undergraduate and graduate tiers, important progress has been made in legal terms. Today, 80% of the Bologna countries either have the legal possibility to offer two-tier structures or are introducing these. Many governments have fixed deadlines for the transition from the traditional to the new degree system. In the remaining 20% of countries, the necessary legislative changes are being prepared. The latter holds true also for SEE countries. As for the HEIs, 53% have introduced or are introducing the two-tier structure while 36% are planning it. In other words, almost 90% of HEIs in the Bologna countries have or will have a twotier structure. Only 11% of HEIs see no need for curricular reform in this process. About 55% of HEIs in SEE have not yet introduced the two-tier structure. The need for more structured doctoral studies in Europe has been highlighted repeatedly in recent years. The traditional procedure of leaving doctoral students largely on their own and providing them with individual supervision only is no longer suited to the challenges of modern society and hampers the realisation of the European Higher Education Area. Europe is divided in two halves regarding the organisation of these third-tier doctoral studies. In half of the countries, doctoral students receive mainly individual supervision and tutoring, while in the other half, taught doctoral courses are also offered in addition to individual work. HEIs still face the challenge of how to cooperate, with the support of governments, at doctoral level nationally and across Europe, and whether or not this should involve the setting-up of structured doctoral studies, particularly in interdisciplinary and international settings. Student support for the new degree structures clearly outweighs the reservations, but the risk of putting too much emphasis on “employability“ still causes unease among a substantial number of student associations. In countries where first degrees at Bachelor level have not existed in the past, there still appears to be a tendency to see these as a stepping stone or orientation platform, rather than as degrees in their own right. The perception of Bachelor degrees as valid and acceptable qualifications still leaves room for improvement. Governments and HEIs will have to cooperate closely to ensure that the implementation of the new degree structures is not done superficially, but is accompanied by the necessary curricular review, taking into account not only the ongoing European discussions on descriptors for Bachelor level and Master-level degrees, learning outcomes and qualification profiles, but also institutionspecific needs for curricular reform. To achieve the objective of a “system of easily readable and comparable degrees“ within the European Higher Education Area, it will be essential that governments and HEIs use the next phase of the Bologna Process to elaborate qualifications frameworks based on external reference points (qualification descriptors, level descriptors, skills and learning outcomes), possibly in tune with a common European Qualifications Framework. The outcomes of the Joint Quality Initiative and the Tuning project may be relevant in this respect. Joint curricula and joint degrees Joint Curricula and Joint Degrees are intrinsically linked to all the objectives of the Bologna Process and have the potential to become an important element of a truly European Higher Education Area. Nevertheless, and in spite of the appeal in the Prague Communiqué, joint curricula and joint degrees still do not receive sufficient attention, as is confirmed by the fact that most ministries and rectors’ conferences attach only medium or even low importance to these. More than two thirds of the ministries claim to give some kind of financial incentive to the development of joint curricula/joint degrees but the extent of such support is not known. While support for joint curricula and joint degrees is clearly higher among HEIs and students, these have not yet been recognised as core tools for institutional development. Their creation and coordination still appears to be left entirely to the initiative of individual professors. HEIs and national higher education systems in the EHEA would lose an enormous opportunity to position themselves internationally if they were not to focus their attention more than before on systematic – including financial – support for the development of joint curricula/joint degrees. Of course, such support would entail amendments and changes in the existing higher education legislation of many countries, as in more than half of the Bologna Process countries, the legislation does not yet allow the awarding of joint degrees. It would also call for the elaboration of agreed guidelines and definitions for joint curricula/joint degrees, both at national and European level, and would rely on enhanced networking between the HEIs themselves. Recognition About two thirds of the Bologna signatory countries have so far ratified the most important legal tool for recognition, the Lisbon Recognition Convention. The European Higher Education Area would benefit if this Convention were ratified by all Bologna signatory States as soon as possible. Correspondingly, more than half of the academic staff are reported as being not very aware or not aware at all of the provisions of the Lisbon Convention. Close cooperation with the relevant ENIC/ NARIC is reported by only 20% of HEIs, while 25% do not cooperate at all with their ENIC/NARIC. A further 28% of HEIs say they don’t know what ENIC/NARIC is (or at least not under this name). Thus awareness of the provisions of the Lisbon Convention, but also of the ENIC/NARIC initiatives (recognition procedures in transnational education etc.) among academic staff and students needs to be raised, through cooperation between international organisations, national authorities and HEIs. Moreover, the position of the ENIC/NARIC also needs to be strengthened in some countries. Two thirds of the ministries, more than half of the HEIs and slightly less than 50% of the student associations expect that the Bologna Process will greatly facilitate academic recognition procedures. While HEIs are rather optimistic with regard to the smoothness of recognition procedures of study abroad periods, in many countries, however, institution-wide procedures for recognition seem to be quite under-developed, and the recognition of study abroad periods often takes place on a case-by- case basis. Even where formal procedures exist, students, as the primarily concerned group, often say they are unaware of these. Almost 90% of the students’ associations reported that their members occasionally or often encounter recognition problems when they return from study abroad. It is a positive sign that more than 40% of the students’ associations indicated that appeal procedures for recognition problems were also in place in their members’ institutions. But, clearly, more HEIs should be encouraged to develop more and better institutional recognition procedures, and especially to intensify communication with students on these matters. The Diploma Supplement is being introduced in a growing number of countries, but the main target group - the employers - is still insufficiently aware of it. Awareness of the potential benefits of the Diploma Supplement therefore also needs to be raised. The introduction of a Diploma Supplement label (like that of an ECTS label) would probably lead to a clear qualitative improvement in the use of the Diploma Supplement. Credits for transfer and accumulation ECTS is clearly emerging as the European credit system. In many countries it has become a legal requirement, while other countries with national credit systems are ensuring their compatibility with ECTS. Two thirds of HEIs today use ECTS for credit transfer, 15% use a different system. Regarding credit accumulation, almost three quarters of HEIs declare that they have already introduced it – this surprisingly high figure needs further examination and may result from an insufficient understanding of the particularities of a credit accumulation system. The ECTS information campaign of the past years, undertaken by the European Commission, the European University Association and many national organisations, has yet to reach a majority of institutions where the use of ECTS is still not integrated into institution-wide policies or guidelines, and its principles and tools are often insufficiently understood. The basic principles and tools of ECTS, as laid down in the “ECTS Key Features” document, need to be conveyed to academic and administrative staff and students alike in order to exploit the potential of ECTS as a tool for transparency. Support and advice is particularly needed regarding credit allocation related to learning outcomes, workload definition, and the use of ECTS for credit accumulation. The introduction of the ECTS label will lead to a clear qualitative improvement in the use of ECTS. Autonomy and quality assurance Increasing autonomy normally means greater independence from state intervention, but is generally accompanied by a growing influence of other stakeholders in society, as well as by extended external quality assurance procedures and outcome-based funding mechanisms. However, many higher education representatives stress that a release of higher education institutions from state intervention will only increase institutional autonomy and optimise the universities' innovative potential, as long as this is not undone by mechanistic and uniform ex post monitoring of outputs, or by an overly intrusive influence of other stakeholders with more short-term perspectives. All Bologna signatory countries have established or are in the process of establishing agencies which are responsible for external quality control in some form or another. 80% of HEIs in Europe already undergo external quality assurance procedures in some form or another (quality evaluation or accreditation). The previous opposition between accreditation procedures in the accession countries and quality evaluation in EU countries seems to be softening: a growing interest in accreditation and the use of criteria and standards can be observed in Western Europe, while an increasing use of improvement-oriented evaluation procedures is noted in Eastern European countries. Two recent comparative studies also observe a softening of opposition between institutionand programme-based approaches among QA agencies and an increasing mix of these two approaches within the same agencies. The primary function of external quality assurance (quality evaluation or accreditation), according to the responsible agencies and the majority of HEIs, consists in quality improvement. Only in France, Slovakia and the UK, accountability to society is mentioned more frequently than quality improvement. Even accreditation agencies, traditionally more oriented toward accountability, have stressed improvement in recent years. Generally speaking, external quality procedures are evaluated positively by the HEIs. Most frequently, they are regarded as enhancing institutional quality culture. Higher education representatives, however, often observe that the effectiveness of the quality evaluation procedures will depend to a large extent on their readiness to consider the links between teaching and research and other dimensions of institutional management. As complex systems, universities cannot react to a problem seen in one domain without also affecting other domains indirectly. Likewise, the efficiency and return on investment in quality review processes will depend on the synergies and coordination between the various national and European accountability and quality assurance procedures, as well as the funding mechanisms in place across Europe. Internal quality assurance procedures seem to be just as widespread as external ones and mostly focus on teaching. 82% of the heads of HEIs reported that they have internal procedures to monitor the quality of teaching, 53% also have internal procedures to monitor the quality of research. Only a quarter of the HEIs say they have procedures to monitor aspects other than teaching and research. At the moment, however, internal procedures are not yet developed and robust enough to make external quality assurance superflous. Ministries, rectors' conferences, HEIs, and students all generally prefer mutual recognition of national quality assurance procedures over common European structures. However, the objects and beneficiaries (or “victims”) of quality evaluation and accreditation, the higher education institutions themselves, are significantly more positively disposed toward common structures and procedures than the national actors. For instance, nearly half of higher education institutions say they would welcome a pan-European accreditation agency. The ultimate challenge for QA in Europe consists in creating transparency, exchange of good practice and enough common criteria to allow for mutual recognition of each others' procedures, without mainstreaming the system and undermining its positive forces of diversity and competition. Lifelong learning Definitions of Lifelong Learning (LLL) and its relation to Continuing Education (CE) and Adult Education are still vague and diverse in different national contexts. Generally speaking, as far as the HE sector is concerned, LLL debates constitute the follow-up to the older debates on Continuing Education and Adult Education, sharing their focus on flexible access to the courses provided, as well as the attempt to respond to the diverse profiles and backgrounds of students. All of the ecent definitions of LLL reflect an emphasis on identifying how learning can best be enabled, in all contexts and phases of life. The need for national LLL policies seems to be undisputed, and was strongly pushed in the context of the consultation on the European Commission's Memorandum on LLL (November 2000). The Trends 2003 survey reveals that in 2003 the majority of countries either intend or are in the process of developing a LLL strategy. Such policies already exist in one third of Bologna signatory countries, namely in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden and the UK. Most of the policies and actions undertaken at European and national levels do not target the higher education sector as such, and do not address the particular added value or conditions of LLL provision at HEIs. At institutional level, the UK, Iceland, France, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic and Bulgaria have the highest percentages of higher education institutions with LLL strategies, while Germany, Austria, Italy, Hungary, Turkey, Romania and other SEE countries have the lowest percentages. A majority of student associations have observed changes in attitude to LLL over the last three years at institutions in their countries. Nearly half of the student representatives noted changes with respect to the courses offered to non-traditional students, while a third observed greater encouragement of LLL culture among students. Little change was observed with respect to teaching methodologies or access policies. Most national LLL policies comprise two co-existing agenda of social inclusion, stressing flexible access and diversity of criteria for different learner profiles, and economic competitiveness, focusing on efficient updating of professional knowledge and skills. The latter dimension is often funded and developed in partnership with labour market stakeholders. If the competitiveness agenda is reinforced by tight national budgets and not counterbalanced by government incentives, university provision of LLL may well be forced to let go of the more costly social agenda. The development of LLL provision reflects a clear market orientation and a well-developed dialogue with stakeholders. Two thirds of the European institutions provide assistance on request and respond to the expressed needs of businesses, professional associations and other employers. Nearly half (49%) actually initiate joint programmes, with considerably more institutions doing so in Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Estonia, France, Ireland and the UK. However, the inclination to respond directly to market needs is also one of the reasons for the critical attitude of many academics toward LLL units at higher education institutions, especially at universities. European reforms of degree structures seem to affect LLL at many institutions. 39% of heads of institutions find that the implementation of new degree structures also affects the design of LLL programmes and modules. With the exception of exchanging experience in major European networks of continuing education, European cooperation between institutions in LLL, e.g. for the sake of joint course development, is still the exception rather than the rule. LLL provision is still generally marginalised, i.e. rarely integrated in the general strategies, core processes and decision-making of the institution. Even in those countries where CE or LLL has been playing an important political role and where incentives are provided to develop LLL, such as France, the UK and Finland, CE centers are not always recognised on an equal footing with the rest of university teaching and research. In order to position themselves in an expanding market and clarify the added value of their expertise, HEIs will have to make more of an effort to integrate LLL into their core development processes and policies. Diversification of institutional profiles Currently, a large majority of European higher education institutions are alike in the relative weight they attribute to teaching and research, and in the dominance of a national orientation regarding the community they primarily serve. Only 13% of all European HEIs (16% of universities) see themselves as serving a world-wide community (with large country divergences in this respect), while only 7% see themselves as primarily serving a European community. Higher education institutions are facing an increasing need to develop more differentiated profiles, since the competition for public and private funds, as well as for students and staff, has increased in times of more intense internationalisation and even globalisation of parts of the higher education market. However, the readiness of HEIs to develop more differentiated profiles depends to a large extent on increased autonomy – which is only partially realised in Europe, as well as on funding mechanisms which allow for such profiling, and which are not yet in place in any European country. A major challenge for the future consists in addressing the new needs which arise from the diversified body of immediate partners in teaching and research. Universities will not only have to decide what the limits of these partners' roles should be, in order to maintain their own academic freedom, but will also have to sell the “unique added value” of what the university's role and contribution to teaching and research can be, distinguishing themselves from other organisations which also offer teaching or research. Their learning structures and outcomes, with suitable supportingquality criteria, including their individual ways of relating academic quality to sustainable employability, will certainly become one of the prime ingredients of institutional positioning in Europe and the world. Conclusions: toward sustainable reforms of higher education in Europe? This study has looked at the Bologna Process from a predominantly institutional point of view. It has traced European and national trends pertaining to the overall Bologna goals and operational objectives, and has attempted to draw attention to implications, emerging consequences and possible interpretations of such developments at the level of higher education institutions. While concrete conclusions have already been drawn at the end of each individual section, we would like to emphasise four more fundamental conclusions which have emerged from the current phase of implementing the Bologna reforms at national and institutional levels, and which apply to any given ingredient of the reforms: Holistic Bologna Implementing the Bologna objectives becomes most fruitful if they are taken as a package and related to each other. Thus, for instance, the links between creating a Bachelor/Master degree structure, establishing an institution-wide credit transfer and accumulation system, and, less obvious to some, opening a lifelong learning perspective, have clearly emerged as points of synergy in the course of reflections on how to implement such reforms at institutional level. These links have crystallised around the issues of creating modular structures and defining qualification frameworks and profiles, as well as concrete learning outcomes in terms of knowledge, competences and skills. Other links were already clearly visible two years ago, such as the fact that creating compatible structures and improvement-oriented quality assurance would build trust and facilitate recognition, which in turn would facilitate mobility. In the course of devising viable academic solutions to some of the Bologna challenges, higher education representatives are now beginning to discover that, if given enough time, they may have embarked on more far-reaching and meaningful reforms than they had originally envisaged, enhancing attention to learners' needs as well as flexibility within and between degree programmes, institutions and national systems. Systematic Bologna Implementing the Bologna objectives has far-reaching implications for the whole institution, not just in terms of reforming the teaching provision but also regarding counselling and other support services, infrastructure and, last but not least, university expenditure. Bologna reforms are not "cost- neutral"; they imply initial investments as well as increased recurrent costs of provision which affect other core functions of the institutions if overall budgets do not increase in real terms. But the systemic integration of the Bologna reforms does not just assert itself in administrative, infrastructural and financial terms. It also becomes blatantly obvious in the establishment of the new Bachelor and Master degrees, in which the role of research may have to be redefined. Master degrees, of course, cannot be reformed without due regard to their links and interrelation with doctoral-level teaching and research. To state the obvious, teaching cannot and should not be reformed at universities without considering its interrelation with research, from creating opportunities of recruiting young researchers to the integration of research projects into teaching. Ambivalent Bologna In practically all action lines of the Bologna reforms, two potentially conflicting agenda emerge: On the one hand, there is the competitiveness agenda, which aims at bracing institutions and national systems for global competition, using transparent structures and cooperation with European partners in order to survive or even thrive in an increasingly tough competition for funds, students and researchers. According to this agenda, greater concentration of excellence and centres of competence, clearer emphases of strengths and harsher treatment of weaknesses are necessary, even urgent, if European higher education is to contribute to reaching the lofty goal of Europe becoming "the most competitive dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world" by 2010 (Lisbon 2000). On the other hand, there is the social agenda, stressing cooperation and solidarity between equal and unequal partners, flexible access, attention to individuals and individual contexts, including addressing issues such as the dangers of brain drain. It would be naïve to assume that the European Higher Education Area is being built only on the latter agenda. Both agenda are needed to fuel the process. But they also have to be weighted, balanced and adapted to any given institutional context as well as interpreted in the light of each institution's attempts to find an appropriate niche in the national and European system of higher education. Well-meaning attempts to square the circle by trying to pursue both agenda, without any further differentiation regarding their application to different parts of each given system or institution, are bound to kill the fragile emerging institutional profiles which can be witnessed in a number of European countries. In any case, national legislators, policy-makers and institutional leaders must try to avoid the considerable danger of creating contradictory policies, incentives or measures if they want to succeed in either or both of these agenda. Instead, legislators and policy-makers should enlarge – and higher education institutions should use – the spaces for autonomous decision-making in order to allow for such differentiation. Furthering Bologna So far, the Bologna Process has made considerable progress in achieving the objectives set out in 1999. This study proves once again that these objectives are realistic enough to inspire confidence in the developments leading to the European Higher Education Area. However, we should point to some neglected view-points and issues which seem to us to be essential for the creation of a genuine European Higher Education Area: There seems to be a surprising lack of attention to the issue of facilitating a truly Europeanwide recruitment of professors. There are very few European higher education institutions which have a sizeable minority, let alone a majority, of non-national European academic staff. While this issue is addressed in the framework of the European Research Area, it belongs just as centrally to the creation of a European Higher Education Area and it should receive greater attention in the next phases of the Bologna Process. How can HEIs be encouraged to internationalise their recruitment procedures? What obstacles to long-term staff mobility must be overcome in terms of health insurance, pensions rights etc.? Furthermore, the issue of free choice of study locations anywhere in Europe, even at undergraduate level at the very beginning of a study career, has not received attention. This is surprising, especially if one considers that the removal of all obstacles to such free choice would be the clearest evidence of a European Higher Education Area worthy of this name. Linguistic matters are another neglected aspect of the EHEA: impressive progress is being made in terms of structural convergence, greater transparency, portability of grants etc., but many years of experience with EU mobility programmes have shown the effectiveness of language barriers. Is the total dominance of the English language in most institutions and programmes really the price we have to pay for true European mobility, or are there ways to safeguard Europe’s linguistic and cultural diversity and convince students (and institutions) that “small languages” are worth bothering about? Last but not least, if the enormous potential of using the Bologna objectives as a trigger for long- needed, fundamental and sustainable reforms of higher education in Europe is not to be wasted, the voice of the academics, within the institutions, will need to be heard and listened to more directly in the Bologna Process. Trends II report - Towards the European higher education area : survey of main reforms from Bologna to Prague Guy HAUG and Christian TAUCH Summary and conclusion3 Review of structures and trends in the countries not covered in 1999 in the Trends 1 report Trends 1 was mainly based on a survey of structure and trends in higher education in the EU/EEA countries. Trends 2 surveyed the other signatory countries of the Bologna Declaration. This review: - confirms all the main conclusions reached in the Trends 1 report; - reinforces the observation concerning the move towards a two-tier system, but not necessarily corresponding to the definitions used for the degree structure outlined in the Bologna Declaration (e.g. the notions of "postgraduate" or "binary" system of higher education); - confirms the observation concerning the move towards accreditation; - shows that long study programmes at all levels, and rather inflexible mono-disciplinary curricula still exist in several countries and would need to be adjusted to meet the principles of the Bologna Declaration. The follow-up process to the Bologna Declaration: widespread interest and support The Bologna Declaration is on all agendas: all countries have established a unit or a forum to explain and discuss its content and implications. It serves as a new source of dialogue between Ministries and higher education institutions, and between sub-sectors of higher education. It is mostly seen as confirming/reinforcing national priorities: this is the process' biggest strength, i.e. it "crystallises" major trends and reveals that issues and solutions have a European dimension; as a consequence the process is not (or no longer) seen as an intrusion, but as a source of information on the most suitable way forward for Europe. It has been used to accelerate, facilitate and guide change: the main role of the Declaration has become to serve as a long term agenda for structural change. A major strength of the process is its complementarity with other developments in progress. It reinforces and it is being reinforced by other tools/factors which point in the same direction: Lisbon Convention, Diploma Supplement, ENQA, EU Directives, EU mobility programmes including ECTS, ENIC/NARIC network, reforms entailed by the accession process to the EU in the countries concerned. The Bologna process is both a consequence of, and a contribution to the process of integration of European higher education. Consensus on the core objectives of the process 3 Full report can be downloaded from: http://www.eua.be/eua/jsp/en/upload/OFFDOC_BP_trend_II.1068715483262.pdf Mobility: there is unanimous support to the promotion of the mobility of students as well as of graduates, both outbound and (less expectedly) inbound. Teacher mobility seems to still receive insufficient attention. The mobility agenda of the Declaration is strongly underpinned by EU tools (ECTS, SOCRATES, TEMPUS, directives on professional recognition, Mobility Action Plan) and by the Lisbon Convention as well as by the willingness to prepare for EU integration in the countries concerned. ECTS and the Diploma Supplement receive very strong support. Employability: the Bologna Declaration has reinforced the debate and increased the awareness that employability is an issue all over Europe. There are new "professional Bachelors" in several countries, and new "professional Masters" in some. The change to a two-tier structure does not necessarily come with immediate in-depth renovation of the underlying curricula. The debate has now taken into account that there are various ways in which first degrees can be "relevant to the European labour market" and that all need not to be directly geared towards short term employment in a particular profession. In some countries university Bachelors are mainly seen as a preparation and a platform for the choice of postgraduate studies; this is less a problem where a strong college sector produces a significant number of holders of professionally oriented Bachelors. Competitiveness/attractiveness: most countries now seem to understand "competitiveness" in a positive sense and to endorse the need for their higher education systems to be "attractive". The issue is seen as "important" or "crucial" in an unexpectedly high number of countries: several have specific comprehensive plans aimed at non-European students; accession countries want to enhance their attractiveness to EU students in order to balance their exchanges within SOCRATES. No country said competitiveness was irrelevant, but it is not yet on the agenda everywhere. Most countries show little concern about transnational education and foreign accreditation sought by their universities. Answers to transnational education are mainly of two types: to rule it out, or to subject it to national rules; neither is likely to resolve the issue. The Bologna Declaration is attracting interest outside Europe, in particular in Latin America: this confirms that understandable higher education structures would make Europe a more attractive study destination in other world regions. Instruments of the convergence process Easily readable and comparable degrees: three countries developed comprehensive and coherent qualifications frameworks which could be useful for similar exercises in others and therefore relevant for Europe as a whole. Regional higher education areas are being consolidated in the Baltic Republics and the Nordic countries. Far from imposing uniformity as was sometimes feared, Bologna has encouraged more diversity and more flexibility. In particular, there are now more binary systems, with more bridges between sub-systems and more "professional Bachelors/Masters": The surprising fears that the Bologna Declaration had the intention to transform all colleges into universities seems to be disappearing. On the contrary, the move towards integrated systems (one system with different institutions and various bridges between them) is confirmed in a number of countries. The Diploma Supplement is seen as a major instrument to facilitate readability and comparability. There are still very complex degree structures in many countries, e.g. systems which are in fact not binary but "trinary" (universities, colleges/polytechnics, short post-secondary courses) with different degree structures in different sectors and in different disciplines. The least compatible sector seems to be the non-university sector, which is growing but without sufficient convergence between countries. There are also still many examples of confusing names/nomenclature (e.g. undergraduate "Master" degrees or "academies" focussing on Bachelor education). The integration of lifelong learning as a regular part of higher education and of the qualification framework is a priority in only a relatively small number of countries. Mainly organised in undergraduate/postgraduate phases: the movement of convergence towards a two-tier structure continues, through the implementation of reforms previously adopted, the consolidation of Bachelor/Master structures introduced during the last decade and the initiation of reforms in several new countries. There are examples of two-tier structures in ALL disciplines including engineering (few in medicine). There are however also many countries where the Bachelor/Master structure does not concern certain professional curricula, which remain organised in long, one-tier courses. The strongest trend is towards 3-year Bachelors, but there are many examples of Bachelors lasting 3 - 4 years. A limited move towards professional Bachelors is in progress. Several comprehensive plans combine the introduction of Bachelor/Master degrees, credits and accreditation ("the golden triangle of reforms"), mostly in countries that engaged early in the reform process. There is not a similar effort towards convergence at the postgraduate level: there is therefore a need for debate/progress concerning the various types of Master degrees. Admission to Master courses is usually not automatic, at least not for "outside" students. Credit accumulation and transfer systems: there is a strong push towards ECTS-compatible credits based on national systems with easy translation into ECTS, or on the adoption of ECTS itself, either by obligation or more often following the strong recommendation of rectors' conferences and/or ministries. There is concern about the potential of divergence in the implementation of the system. The fears that the introduction of credits would deprive universities of the possibility to organise their curricula and oblige them to recognise all imported credits seem to be diminishing. Quality assurance: there is a powerful movement towards more quality assurance (new agencies, ENQA network), but in very different ways: unclear relationship between "quality assurance" and "accreditation", applied to all or only part of the higher education system, focussing on programmes (sometimes along subject lines across a whole country) or on institutions, with different types of consequences. The development of "accreditation" is now more easily recognisable than in the Trends 1 report: many non EU/EEA countries have accreditation, and several others are considering the possibility or have firm plans for a new accreditation agency (separate from the quality assurance agency or combined with it). In some countries that wish to increase the international acceptance of their new degrees, accreditation is seen as a sine qua non . There is however still confusion about the benefits and the meaning of accreditation. The decentralised approach to quality assurance/accreditation (sometimes referred to as "meta accreditation") which is being experimented in one country may provide inspiration for European mechanisms based on mutual acceptance of quality assurance decisions, respecting national and subject differences and not overloading universities. A significant impact in non-signatory countries The Trends II report covers six non-signatory countries: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. It does not cover other countries, although it is known that there is interest in e.g. Turkey, Russia and some other CIS countries. In these six countries the Bologna Declaration receives strong attention, in particular as a reference for long term structural reforms and as an agenda for change in the whole of Europe. In the countries of former Yugoslavia and in Albania the structure of curricula, degrees and institutions differs significantly from the principles of the Bologna Declaration, but the reform process has started or is in progress and is supported by various European programmes and initiatives. The reform prepared for Kosovo by the International Administration took direct inspiration from the Bologna Declaration. A major difficulty for the development of the kind of curricula envisaged by the Bologna Declaration is the fragmentation of universities into independent faculties (resulting in inflexible mono-disciplinary curricula) in the countries of the former Yugoslavia. The higher education system in Cyprus is already largely in line with the principles of the Bologna Declaration. Some indications and directions for the future In future priority attention should be paid to : - the challenge of readability of the Master level; - fostering convergence in the college/polytechnic sector; - the reform/adaptation of curricula at higher education institutions that have adopted or are adopting a two-tier articulation (there are good examples showing the way towards shorter, more broadly based and relevant Bachelors in all areas); - the development of quality assurance mechanisms extending to the European level bona fide quality labels earned at the national or regional level; ENQA is likely to have a major role and responsibility in meeting this challenge; - external aspects, in particular concerning the attractiveness and credibility of European higher education at the global level; - support to the process of system reforms and curricular renovation in Southeast European countries. Some fears which were initially felt from the Bologna Declaration seem to be diminishing or even vanishing. It is now in general accepted that: - the Declaration does not challenge the diversity of systems and disciplines, but rather to promote it and organise it; - it is fully compatible with binary systems; - credit systems do not deprive universities of the possibility to organise their curricula in a coherent way, and do no oblige them to accept without discrimination all credits which students would like to transfer; - there are various ways in which degrees can be "relevant to the labour market" and the need is for a diversity of first degrees opening possibilities in the labour market and/or the way to various types of postgraduate studies. As the process develops, there is a need and a demand for: - the reconfirmation of the main aims and principles of the Bologna Declaration, in order to underpin its role as a reference for long term reforms and as a European agenda of change; - more co-ordination, in particular concerning the implementation of ECTS and the profile of Bachelor and Master degrees, in order to avoid that too much variance creates a new type of obstacles and annihilates the benefits of the convergence process. The general trend towards diversified systems (with diverse institutions offering a variety of Bachelors, a variety of Masters and various types of "bridges" allowing students to change track) points in the direction of a network, rather than a ladder of qualifications: - the continuation of long one-tier curricula in a limited number of areas does not contradict the overall objectives and principles of the Bologna Declaration (even though there is no convincing argument – except maybe in medicine- that the adoption of a two-tier structure would not provide significant benefits); - even though the main direction is towards 3-year Bachelors, any European system needs to accommodate first degrees with diverse purpose, orientation and profile requiring the equivalent in credits of 3 to 4 years of full time study. Extended first degrees would not pose any difficulty if they formed a common European base in a given subject area (e.g. engineering); otherwise, it would be useful to distinguish them from other Bachelor degrees (e.g. by calling them "advanced" Bachelor or Honours degrees"). There is still a growing need for information about how the main issues are seen and addressed elsewhere in Europe and in the world: - even more than hitherto, progress towards more convergence will be dependent on the availability of comparative studies, the dissemination of good practice and the tracking of problem areas; - in the vocabulary for higher education as a whole (e.g. "binary", "two-tier", "non- university", "accreditation") and in the nomenclature of degrees there are certain confusions or inconsistencies to which attention should be paid (e.g. what is postgraduate, name of certain degrees or institutions and their translation into English). The marked growth of the attention given to the "external" dimension of the process and to the development of tools/plans to make national higher education more attractive at home, in Europe and in the world should continue. The fact that this process could be made easier and more successful if it had a European dimension has not yet been acknowledged: European degrees will not be generally accepted in the world if they are not generally accepted in Europe. Future progress towards comparable qualifications requires additional work at the European level within particular subject or professional areas. A series of publications or databases on studies in Europe in all major subject areas would enhance comparability and mobility both within Europe and with the rest of the world. Finally, it seems important to point out that the future of the Bologna process and indeed of European higher education is bound to be related to two fundamental principles which could guide all future action : - students in Europe have a need and a right to study for degrees that can effectively be used in Europe, not just in the country/region where they were earned; - a major responsibility of higher education institutions and governments in Europe is to ensure that they take all steps needed to be in a position to award this type of qualifications to their students. Trends I report – Trends and issues in learning structures in higher education in Europe Executive summary4 Guy Haug This document is meant as a contribution to the follow up work to the Sorbonne Declaration of May 1998 which called for the harmonisation of the architecture of higher education qualification systems in Europe. Its main purposes are to map areas of convergence between these systems in Europe (mainly EU/EEA), to identify trends affecting them and to indicate ways towards greater convergence in the future. The survey of existing structures shows the extreme complexity and diversity of curricular and degree structures in European countries. The Sorbonne Declaration recommended that studies should be organised in an undergraduate and a graduate cycle, but did not provide an indication of their duration. The debate that followed focussed on the alleged existence (or emergence) of a European “model” with 3 main levels of qualifications requiring 3, 5 or 8 years of study. No significant convergence towards a 3-5-8 model was found. Whether traditional or newly introduced, bachelor-type degrees require 3 to 4 years, and many European countries without bachelors have first degrees in 4 years; there is however a high degree of convergence towards a duration of about 5 years for master-level studies; but there is no 8-year standard duration for doctoral degrees. In addition, whereas the UK, the US and most countries in the world - except in continental Europe - apply two-tier (undergraduate-postgraduate) systems, the length of studies and the degree structures vary considerably within and between these countries, and duration tends to be expressed in academic credits rather than in years. Several important trends affecting the structure of degrees/qualifications in Europe could be identified. There is a strong and growing governmental push towards shorter studies, first aimed at reducing the real duration of studies to their official length (which is typically exceeded by 2 to 4 years in many countries), and more recently through the introduction of first degrees in countries with traditionally long curricula without an intermediate exit point. Recent reforms in Germany and Austria have introduced new bachelors/masters curricula on a voluntary basis alongside traditional diplomas, whereas in Italy and France existing curricula are being re-arranged in a first and postgraduate cycle. Elements of two-tier systems exist in many other European countries, and it seems that currently only a few countries in the EU/EEA do not have, or are not experimenting with two-tier curricula in at least part of their higher education system. In countries with a binary system, the line of divide between the university and non-university sectors (and their degree structure) is become increasingly blurred. Most countries have adopted, or are adopting various types of systems for the transfer, and to a lesser extent also the accumulation of academic credits; most are compatible with the ECTS system, which is gaining ground at many institutions. There is a marked trend towards more autonomy of universities, coupled with new initiatives for quality control and evaluation in many countries. In recent years, European higher education has been faced with mounting challenges from abroad. Transnational education delivered in English by foreign/overseas providers through branch 4 The full report is available here: http://www.eua.be/eua/jsp/en/upload/OFFDOC_BP_trend_I.1068715136182.pdf campuses, franchising, or by electronic means has grown rapidly in many European countries; a whole new sector of higher education is emerging alongside traditional, national, state-regulated systems, but until now it has been largely ignored by governments as well as universities in Europe. Four main avenues of combined action which may foster the desired convergence and transparency in qualification structures in Europe are being suggested. - The gradual adoption of an ECTS-compatible credit accumulation system. This would enhance the flexibility of national/institutional systems (in particular in view of the development of lifelong learning), bring them more in line with each other and with world systems, and ease mobility both within and from outside the EU/EEA area. - The adoption of a common, but flexible frame of reference for qualifications. A rigid, uniform model (like the 3-5-8 model) is neither desirable nor feasible in Europe. In line with the analysis of existing systems and reforms in progress, the following broad frame could serve as a common reference, while at the same time allowing for flexibility and differences in countries and subjects (length of studies are expressed not in years, but as the number of academic credits that must be successfully completed (one academic year corresponds to 60 ECTS credits): a. sub-degree level (certificate, diploma): 1 to 2 years worth of ECTS credits; b. first degree level (bachelor, honours, other first degree): no less than 3, no more than 4 years worth of ECTS credits; c. master level: about 5 years worth of ECTS credits, of which at least 12 months worth of master-level credits; d. doctoral level: variable (about 7 or 8 years in total). The main conditions for meaningful first degrees of the bachelor/honours type are being set out. Key factors are the introduction of new curricula (instead of a sheer re- packaging of existing ones), a guaranteed level (gauged on the basis of knowledge and competencies acquired rather than time spent), real possibilities on the market labour, a clear separation from postgraduate studies, and formal accreditation. Short master programmes (12 months) present specific opportunities for intra-European mobility and international competitiveness. - An enhanced European dimension in quality assurance, evaluation and accreditation: a. compatible quality assurance systems, especially regarding the setting of threshold standards based on learning acquired (outputs) rather than on time spent and curriculum content (inputs); b. independent evaluation leading to European quality labels in broad subject areas; the current vacuum for independent evaluation in Europe would best be filled through agencies independent from national and European authorities, and working along subject lines; they could draw on existing and future European-wide subject-based networks; c. a coordinated approach to quality standards for transnational education, which raises the question of the recognition of foreign private providers. - Empowering Europeans to use the new learning opportunities. Compatible credit systems, understandable degree structures, increased quality assurance and an more European labour market are structural improvements which would create a whole new range of learning opportunities for all; their impact would be even greater if they were combined with measures such as short master degrees favouring new types of mobility, the further strengthening of the NARIC/ENIC network, counselling with a European dimension, and the elimination of remaining obstacles to student and teacher mobility. The combined impact of the suggested action lines would also make European higher education more understandable and attractive to students, scholars and employers from other continents; they would enhance European competitiveness and thus help to consolidate (or in the eyes of many, to re- establish) its role and influence in the world. ESIB – the National Unions of Students in Europe ESIB and the Bologna Process – Creating a European Higher Education Area for and with students Preamble ESIB- the National Unions of Students has existed since 1982 and seeks to promote the social, cultural, political and economic interests of students in Europe towards decision makers and partners at national, European and international level. ESIB currently has 48 members from 36 countries and thus represents more than 10 million students in Europe. Introduction Beginning with the Sorbonne Declaration in June 1998, a discussion has been emerging about the setting up of a European Higher Education Area on the continent. In 1999 the group of countries signing the Bologna Declaration had already further increased from the four that signed the Sorbonne Declaration to 29 countries, and at the first follow up meeting in 2001 in Prague the group increased to 31 countries. While students had to invite themselves to the Bologna conference, they were included in Prague and ESIB has been actively and constructively participating in the follow-up to this process and has adopted a large number of policies on various aspects of the Bologna objectives. At this point, where almost half of the time dedicated towards reaching the goals of Bologna has passed, ESIB aims at providing an overall position on the various aspects of the process, also evaluating the reforms that have already taken place in the Bologna signatory countries. This paper should be seen in the context of existing ESIB policy papers. The international trends surrounding Bologna In recent years, the world has seen an overall trend of privatisation and deregulation of higher education systems throughout the world. The massification of education has not been met by a sufficient increase of public funding. Rather, HEIs have been pressured to engage in commercial activities, selling research and education products to customers and thus generating an increasing proportion of their income through these activities. This trend involves the establishment of governance structures that abolish collegial bodies in favour of streamlined corporate governance models, where the power is located in the hands of a few managers rather than all students, staff and researchers in HEIs. The introduction of various forms of fees for studying is another trend that is to be observed in Europe throughout the last years. ESIB considers education a human right and calls upon governments to meet their obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights, Article 13, which calls for a progressive introduction of free education rather than an introduction of fees. On a global level, trade in education becomes more and more relevant and generates an increasing profit. The ongoing negotiations about the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) about liberalising trade in education services are a further step along the privatisation agenda. However, increasing public pressure and protests have resulted in a growing interest of governments and reluctance to go any further in this trade. ESIB has clearly stated its objection to trade in education services on several occasions and pointed out clearly that education is not a commodity from our point of view. UNESCO and other UN agencies have been increasing their work in recent years to safeguard education as a public good and have called upon governments to ensure that trade in education does not jeopardise existing commitments of governments under international human rights legislation. UNESCO has furthermore developed frameworks for recognition of qualifications and codes of good practices for transnational education. Lastly, the European Union has set the goal of becoming the most competitive knowledge-based economy by 2010 in the Lisbon Summit in 2000 and has since been working on the future objectives of the education and training systems in Europe in a number of working groups, which involve national governments and NGOs representatives. On the other hand, a number of reforms have been implemented in European countries and have led to big changes in the systems of higher education. The mobility programmes of the EU have been successful in significantly increasing the number of mobile students. Curricular reforms as well as more flexible programmes have allowed for a larger number of students from non-traditional backgrounds to enter HE. Lastly, by implementing ICT in the universities and other HEIs and implementing pedagogical reforms, more learner and thus student centered patterns of learning and teaching have evolved. All these European and global trends form the context in which the Bologna process has started and is continuing in Europe and these trends have to be taken into account when evaluating the outcomes and objectives of Bologna and forming a student opinion. The Bologna Process and ESIB’s position towards the objectives ESIB generally welcomes the increasing co-operation in Higher Education in Europe and supports the idea of establishing a European Higher Education Area. When it comes to the general rationale behind the process, ESIB would like to stress that we see co-operation in Europe and beyond, based on core academic values as the main driving factors of the creation of the EHEA and its relation to other regions of the world. The strong focus on the competitiveness of Europe in the world is a two- edged sword. It can on the one hand lead to an increase in quality and transparency, can on the other hand further the privatisation agenda and brain drain, which are trends which ESIB clearly and heavily opposes. Therefore, the inclusion of attractiveness in the Prague communiqué and the shift towards this more co-operative approach is very much welcomed by ESIB. ESIB would also like to stress that a clear pursuit of the objectives of the Bologna process is essential for reaching its aims and that the Bologna process must not be abused to carry out other reforms which are only on the national agenda in the name of the Bologna process. A number of countries seem to be abusing the Bologna Process for these kinds of reforms and ESIB strongly condemns these attempts of governments to hijack the process. Such hijacking jeopardises the creation of the European Higher Education Area, because stakeholders will oppose the process and the implementation will become increasingly difficult. The strong focus on economic goals in the Bologna process has been counterbalanced by the inclusion of the social dimension and the reaffirming of HE as a public good in the Prague communiqué. However, more work will need to be done to ensure that these objectives do not remain empty formulas but are met to ensure social inclusion and equity in the EHEA. However, ESIB strongly believes in the potential for positive change in the Bologna Process and welcomes the process as an opportunity to reform the higher education systems as to make them more responsive to students and society, including the labour market. When it comes to the concrete objectives, ESIB stresses the following: Quality Assurance ESIB welcomes the increasing European co-operation in quality assurance between countries and in the framework of ENQA. However, existing problems should not be overlooked. The lack of a common definition of accreditation, its aims and procedures, for example make it difficult to work on this issue into a clear direction. In accreditation diversification rather than a convergence seems to be the trend in Europe. A common European accreditation does not seem feasible and realistic from our opinion and the process should rather be steered into a mutual recognition of national systems. ESIB also stresses that accreditation has to be accompanied by a continuous process of quality assurance and quality improvement through evaluation and that the set up of such systems where they do not yet exist is essential to guarantee not only the keeping of minimum criteria at a given point in time but a continuous assurance and enhancement of the quality of higher education. Quality assurance with a focus on formative improvement of the quality of courses and institutions should be properly implemented in all signatory countries and should focus on courses, programmes and institutions as such, assessing the quality culture of HEIs and how they work with quality internally at different levels. National guidelines and bodies should be developed for both quality assurance and accreditation, which clearly state the responsibilities of different actors and must involve students, teachers, employers and other societal actors to make sure that the education system meets their expectations and demands. Transparency of quality assurance and accreditation must be ensured, particularly by widely disseminating the proceeding of such activities. Students, as the biggest stakeholder group in education, must always be included in both quality assurance and accreditation and this inclusion should be legally guaranteed. Degree Structures: Adoption of a system of two main cycles ESIB observes with great interest the adoption of the new degree structures. While it seems to be fairly easy and well done in a lot of eastern European countries and the Scandinavian countries, a lot of western and southern countries seem to have more problems in adopting this system. For the first-cycle degree, ESIB stresses that the first cycle degree such as a Bachelor should allow for different profiles (i.e. practical vs. scientific profile), even though the inclusion of a certain number of both practical and scientific aspects of a subject has to be ensured. The employability of the graduates holding such degrees as well as societal gains should be more clearly defined than stating that first-cycle degrees shall be employable. Also, a focus should be placed on transferable skills that are gained in certain subjects. This will make qualifications not directly relevant to the labour market more easily relatable to the question of what a person with a certain degree can actually do in practice. Governments need to ensure that the labour market and employers recognise these degrees more easily as the reform of increasingly introducing those degrees will otherwise fail and face serious problems, a trend already apparent in a number of countries. The successful completion of the first cycle must allow for entry into the second degree. ESIB opposes any additional selection mechanism, be it special entry exams or numerus clausus. The second cycle programme also must be provided free of tuition fees. Both first cycle and second cycle degree have their own specific value, as they provide answers to different and sometimes complementary needs. There is no “normal” degree. Instead both should be equally valorised and students must be free to choose if they want to continue or stop after the first cycle. ESIB recognises that issues of progression rates between first and second cycle vary widely for socially disadvantaged and discriminated minority and indeed majority groups. Further to its commitment to access and progression at all levels ESIB calls for research to establish which barriers exist for these students. In this process students from the disadvantaged groups and student unions should be consulted and instruments have to be developed to remove these barriers. The aim of the reforms to degree structures should be more flexibility also in the light of lifelong learning and not to get the largest number of students out of the universities and polytechnics as quickly as possible. ESIB calls upon governments to ensure free access to the second cycle and also engage into a clearer definition of employability to ensure the success such reform. If these objectives are met, the reforms could decrease drop out rates as well as create the above mentioned flexibility which will allow a bigger and more diverse number of students to successfully reach different levels of higher education. Lastly, ESIB would like to stress that a reform of the structures necessarily should involve a reform of the content of programmes rather than pressing old contents into a new form and then believing that all problems of these degrees will be solved. A thorough assessment and reform of the curricula is essential to ensure the success of the BA/MA structures. Promotion of Mobility While a lot of progress has been achieved with the new generation of Socrates programmes and an increasing number of students are mobile in Europe, there are a lot of issues still to be resolved. The proper implementation of credit systems is essential to foster mobility and guarantee recognition of the gained qualifications. Also, reforms of national student support schemes to make grants and other state funded financial support approved by students fully portable are necessary to make it easier for students to be mobile. Additionally, European mechanisms have to be developed to counterbalance the enormous differences between countries in the Bologna Process. Also, to foster mobility, it is necessary to change and relax foreigner laws and further simplify the granting of visas and working permits both for the period of study and after graduation. Furthermore, it has to be properly assessed in how far mobility affects brain drain within Europe and beyond and proper mechanisms addressing both the needs of individuals and the needs of countries have to be devised to balance these trends. As an additional concern, ESIB would like to stress the need of continuous and tuition-free language courses of the language of the country of destination for studies to enhance the integration of the mobile students into the local communities and make mobility not only an academically but also a culturally challenging experience, contributing to more understanding, respect and tolerance for the diverse cultural differences in Europe. Lastly, HEIs and student unions have to devise proper counseling mechanisms for foreign students to ensure their integration into the academic community and the social well-being of students from other countries. Establishment of a system of credits The introduction of a system of credits both for transfer and accumulation seems essential for a large number of aspects related to the creation of a EHEA. ESIB believes that it is essential that compatible and comparable credit systems be developed in all European countries. When it comes to measuring workload, ESIB believes that students must be involved in this process. The ECTS is a useful tool for credit transfer within the realm of mobility for the moment. However, more work is needed to develop it into a proper accumulation system. ESIB also stresses that governments should not be forced to introduce ECTS as a generalised credit system but that other compatible systems should coexist. Recognition of Degrees: Adoption of a system of easily readable and comparable degrees ESIB welcomes the efforts to facilitate the recognition of degrees and qualifications to stimulate mobility on the European labour market. A proper implementation of the use of the Diploma Supplement is a means of easily facilitating this process. The Diploma Supplement should be issued automatically without students having to request it and free of charge. It should at least be issued in the language of the institution and another widely spoken European language. For intermediate recognition, compatible credit accumulation systems should be used, which make it easier for students to get parts of their studies recognised when they change the country and/or city of studies. A ratification of the Lisbon Recognition Convention by all signatory countries of the Bologna Process is urgently needed, especially if that is to be made a prerequisite of joining the process. ESIB believes that it is not possible to demand something from someone else, which one has not achieved oneself before. Therefore, we call upon all signatory countries to eliminate existing legal barriers and sign and ratify the Lisbon Convention. Furthermore, the Lisbon Convention should be made more legally binding, e.g. by making it part of their national higher education legislation. This legislation should also contain a more general paragraph on recognition issues to foster pre-degree recognition by credit accumulation. Lastly, the labour legislations of signatory countries need to be adjusted to facilitate recognition of qualifications in vocational higher education for labour market purposes. An observation of the discussions in the Bruges/Copenhagen process on these issues could help to solve the questions linked to professional recognition in government regulated portions of the labour market. In the light of these challenges, the mandate of the ENIC/NARIC network should be expanded to deal with all these recognition issues in different departments but in one main organisation responsible for assisting with the process. It is also in this context ESIB would like to highlight the issue of national and international qualification frameworks. ESIB calls for further research in this area in order to help and further policy development of all stakeholders. Higher Education institutions and students The inclusion of higher education institutions and students is essential for the success of any real student oriented reform. ESIB therefore calls upon all governments to include students into the national Bologna Follow-Up structures and all other reform bodies. Furthermore, reforms of higher education governance structures must not lead to a process of abolishing democracy in higher education institutions. Efficiency in governance structures might be a useful goal, but efficiency must never mean that students, teachers and staff are being excluded in favour of corporate steering models for universities and polytechnics. Furthermore, the autonomy of institutions should be designed in a way that gives a collective responsibility to all stakeholders of the higher education community, not by transferring all decision- making powers to the university leadership. Lastly, ESIB considers it of importance to deepen the dialogue also with the teachers and researchers who have to implement the Bologna reforms in the faculties and departments. Leaving them out of the process will in the medium term have negative effects on the proper implementation of reforms and on the re-design of curricula and structures of studies. Promotion of the European dimension in higher education ESIB welcomes the design of new degrees with a specific European content. We believe that to create a European identity, European educational programmes are essential. This can be best achieved through joint bachelor and master programmes. For a joint degree, a stay abroad should be the norm. However, the needs of students with disabilities and parents have to be taken into account and means will have to be developed to allow for their access into these programmes as well. Also, it seems essential that all degrees contain European aspects. This “Euromainstreaming” could be achieved by comparative analysis in social sciences for example. It has to be ensured, that these European aspects of programmes lad to a better understanding of similarities and differences between people on the continent and also critically reflect upon the concept of Europe. Furthermore, it is essential that these contents respect the huge cultural diversity on the continent and promote understanding, co-operation and tolerance between Europe and other regions of the world. It must never lead to the evolvement of a European nationalism which outs Europe above other regions of the world. Also, the autonomy of HEIs has to be respected in curricular matters. Promoting the Attractiveness of the European Higher Education Area ESIB believes that the shift of focus towards attractiveness is a positive development, as the term competitiveness can have a very negative meaning, especially when it comes to competing at all costs, which undermines academic values such as co-operation. ESIB further believes that attractiveness can best be reached by a high quality of education and research and by a good international network of co-operation with various partner institutions around the globe. When discussing the attractiveness of the EHEA, the problems of brain drain need to be tackled and resolved. Although ESIB believes in the freedom of each student, researcher and member of teaching staff to choose their place of study, work and life, special attention must be paid to the following points. Making Europe one of the most attractive higher education areas, countries have to act responsibly in relation to the problem of brain drain, both between Bologna signatory countries and outside. Since a lot of talented students, researchers and teaching staff in developing countries and countries in transition are emigrating, the creation of a cohesive higher education area is endangered, as is the economic and social development of the countries encountering brain drain. Signatory countries should respond to the fact that the process of brain drain also has highly negative implications for the development and quality of higher education and research.. Guaranteeing safe employment and working conditions for students, staff and researchers in the qualification phase can reduce the problem of brain drain and enhance the attractiveness of the EHEA. This also means that PhD candidates should be employed by the universities, and enough full time jobs have to be provided for young researchers to make the academic workplace an attractive option for them. With regards to the GATS, ESIB reaffirms its strong opposition against making any further commitments in education. ESIB calls upon governments to not make further commitments in education while at the same time reviewing existing commitments and legally assessing their impact on the public system. ESIB further calls upon governments to engage in a constructive dialogue with teachers, students and universities about the issues surrounding trade in education services, as the existing trade in the framework of TNE arrangements has to be steered to make it beneficial. Generally, ESIB reaffirms its commitment to education as a public good not a tradable commodity. Lifelong Learning ESIB welcomes the steps towards implementing lifelong learning in Europe. However, we feel that it is important to stress that lifelong learning should not only mean to upgrade professional skills but also to realise the right to education in an overall lifelong perspective. ESIB believes that the flexibility that can be reached through a proper implementation of the Bologna objectives can have a positive effect on the role of higher education in the lifelong learning framework. Lifelong learning however must not mean that people’s knowledge is automatically considered outdated or expired after a certain time period and everyone is obliged to update their skills. Governments, HEIs, teachers and students have to continue their work to accommodate the needs and expectations of these new and non-traditional students in the lifelong learning framework, which has to provide multiple entry and exit points to HE. The social dimension ESIB believes that the social dimension should be at the heart of the Bologna Process. This involves questions linked to equity in access as well as equal chances of completion of studies. Furthermore, the national support schemes for students need to be sufficient to cover the living costs of students. While ESIB acknowledges potential benefits from students working during their studies, ESIB stresses that this employment should primarily be linked to the study subject and students should not be forced to work in order to pay subsistence costs. Additionally, ESIB stresses that grants are preferable to other financial support systems. Loan-based systems can seriously damage the financial situation of students with a weaker socio-economic background. Furthermore, study financing systems should be portable, to enhance mobility, and independent of parental income. Lastly, ESIB stresses that a social support system for students, which covers housing, health care, food and other counseling and social services should be properly implemented and enhanced to guarantee the social well-being of students. In the design and steering of these systems, students should form an integral part since they know student needs best. The road ahead – opportunities and threats ESIB believes that a proper implementation of the Bologna process can lead to the biggest changes in the landscape of Higher education in Europe since the early 1970’s in Western and the early 1990’s in Central and Eastern Europe. ESIB considers that it is of utmost importance that the students’ voice is being heard in the process. If students’ concerns are not met this will provoke dissatisfaction and protests among students whereas is students concerns are met, the Bologna process and its implementation will have a beneficial effect for students, as well as teachers and universities. However, a few shortcomings of the process have to be mentioned: The strong focus on the economic role of education and the strong focus on competition and competitiveness can foster market driven reforms and increase the trend of privatisation and deregulation of public education systems. One of the main dangers is that the structural reforms towards greater transparency of European higher education make this education tradable on a global market. Therefore, ESIB believes that a renewed commitment to education as a public good and a public responsibility is necessary within the Bologna Process. Furthermore, ESIB believes that it is essential that governments ensure sufficient funding of education, so that HEIs are not forced to engage in commercial activities. Only if this objective is met, the Bologna Process will be a European model that counterbalances the global developments as exemplified by the GATS negotiations. In this light, ESIB also feels that it is necessary within the Bologna Process to develop alternative frameworks to the GATS, for example within the UNESCO framework and to enhance existing UNESCO and Council of Europe regulatory structures. As an additional point, ESIB considers it to be of great importance that the research dimension is included in the Bologna Process, because a true European Higher Education Area does not merely consist of study structures and recognition of degrees but has to encompass the research dimension of Higher Education as well. Lastly, ESIB reaffirms that addressing the social dimension of mobility, as well as the general question of study financing systems, have to be addressed to guarantee free and equal access for all students in the EHEA. ESIB also believes that cultural diversity in Europe is an asset worth protecting. While adjusting the structures of higher education, the cultural and linguistic diversity of the continent should be respected and reaffirmed. Notwithstanding the above-mentioned criticism and weak points of the process, ESIB reaffirms its commitment to engaging in a constructive work within the Bologna process to ensure that the student voice is heard and that the objectives of setting up a European Higher Education Area for and with students are met by 2010. Student Göteborg Declaration Preamble We, the student representatives in Europe, gathered in Göteborg at the Student Göteborg Convention from the 22nd to the 25th of March 2001.Here we adopted the following declaration on the future of the Bologna Process. ESIB - the National Unions of Students in Europe is and has been actively involved in the construction of the European Higher Education Area. In June 1999, ESIB and its members, the national unions of students had to invite themselves to the Ministerial meeting on "A European Higher Education Area" in Bologna. Two years later, at the Prague Summit, ESIB is a keynote speaker. The growing recognition of the student input in the process is the result of a strong commitment of European students to promote a high quality, accessible and diverse higher education in Europe. Introduction ESIB sees the Bologna process as the crucial step towards a Europe without boundaries for its citizens. A European higher education area should include all European students on an equal basis. The creation of this area is a common responsibility of all European countries and should take into account the political and socio-economic differences in Europe. The reason for creating a European higher education area is the improvement of all national higher education systems, by spreading good practices and promoting cooperation and solidarity between the European states. The social implications Although the Bologna Declaration pointed out the basic aspects of the European dimension in higher education, it failed to address the social implications the process has on students. Higher education enables students to acquire the skills and the knowledge they need further in life, both personally and professionally. The social and civic contributions must be present as the primary functions of the higher education institutions. Higher education institutions are important actors in civic society; therefore all members of the higher education community should be involved. Students therefore are not consumers of a tradable education service, and as a consequence it is the governments' responsibility to guarantee that all citizens have equal access to higher education, regardless of their social background. This means providing students with adequate funding in the form of study grants and the higher education institutions with enough funding to exercise their public tasks. The higher education area As stated earlier, accessible higher education of a high quality is of utmost importance for a democratic European society. Accessibility and diversity have traditionally been the cornerstones of European education and should remain so in the future. Next to this and to ensure that all programmes of higher education institutions are compatible and exchangeable, a system of credits based on workload should be implemented in the whole of Europe. A common European framework of criteria for accreditation and a compatible system of degrees is needed, in order to make sure that credits accumulated in different countries or at different institutions are transferable and lead to a recognisable degree. A two-tier degree system should guarantee free and equal access for all students and should not lead to the exclusion of students on other than academic grounds. To guarantee and improve the quality of higher education, a strong European cooperation of the national quality assurance systems is needed. Accreditation, being a certification of a programme, takes into account, among other criteria, the quality assurance process and should be used as a tool to promote quality. A European higher education area promoting improvement and cooperation requires physical mobility of students, teaching staff and researchers. Mobility is also a way to promote cultural understanding and tolerance. Obstacles to mobility exist not only in the academic world. Social, economical and political obstacles must also be removed. Governments should guarantee foreign students the same legal rights as the students in the hosting country and higher education institutions should take the responsibility to provide students with mobility programmes. The creation of a genuine European higher education area as outlined above will lead to expanded mobility, higher quality and the increased attractiveness of European education and research. The measures taken in the Bologna process are only a first step towards transparency. The provision of general information must be encouraged. To improve the level of information Europe needs a fully implemented use of a Diploma Supplement and the creation of a readily accessible database with all relevant higher education information. The role of students Finally, it must be stressed that students, as competent, active and constructive partners, must be seen as one of the driving forces for changes in the field of education. Student participation in the Bologna process is one of the key steps towards permanent and more formalised student involvement in all decision making bodies and discussion fora dealing with higher education on the European level. ESIB - the National Unions of Students in Europe, being the representative of students on the European level, must be included in the future follow-up of the Bologna declaration. ESIB - the National Unions of Students in Europe will commit itself to continue representing and promoting the students' views on the European level.
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