For debate in the Standing Committee — see Rule 15 of the Rules of Procedure
16 July 2003
Council of Europe contribution to the higher education area
Committee on Culture, Science and Education
Rapporteur: Mr Varela i Serra, Spain, LDR
The Bologna Process is the most important and wide-ranging reform of higher education in Europe since the immediate aftermath of 1968. The ultimate aim of the Process is to establish a European Higher Education Area by 2010 in which staff and students can move with ease and have fair recognition of their qualifications.
The Assembly welcomes the Council of Europe’s contribution to the Bologna Process through its involvement in the Process follow-up arrangements, its role as a link between the states in the Process and the other States Parties to the European Cultural Convention and its higher education programme.
With a view to the next meeting of the Ministers responsible for Higher Education in Berlin in September 2003, the Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers study the means of enabling the Council of Europe to step up its contribution to the establishment of the European Higher Education Area.
I. Draft recommendation
1. The Bologna Process, the most important and wide-ranging reform of higher education in Europe since 1968, was launched in June 1999 when the Education Ministers from 29 European countries signed the Bologna Declaration aimed at establishing a European Higher Education Area by 2010.
2. In 2001, the Ministers responsible for higher education in the “Bologna” countries met in Prague to take stock of the progress made and establish guidelines and priorities for implementing the process in the years ahead. They reasserted their commitment to achieving the goal of establishing a European Higher Education Area by 2010. At the same time, the number of participating countries was increased to 33.
3. The Bologna Declaration and the Prague Communiqué set as goals the adoption of a system of easily “readable” and comparable degrees essentially based on two main cycles (of studies), the promotion of mobility, European co-operation in quality assurance and the enhancement of the attractiveness of the European Higher Education Area.
4. The Assembly welcomes the Council of Europe’s contribution to the Bologna Process through its involvement in the process follow-up arrangements, its role as a link between the states in the process and the other States Parties to the European Cultural Convention and its higher education programme.
5. In this connection, the Council of Europe/Unesco Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region (the Lisbon Recognition Convention) adopted in 1997, which has now been signed by 43 states and ratified by 33, is particularly important because recognition issues play a key role in the implementation of the European Higher Education Area.
6. With a view to the next meeting of the Ministers responsible for Higher Education in Berlin in September 2003, the Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers:
i. study the means of enabling the Council of Europe to continue and step up its contribution to the establishment of the European Higher Education Area, in particular:
- by further developing its activities concerning the recognition of qualifications with regard to the Bologna Process, notably the implementation of the Lisbon Recognition Convention;
- by analysing the links between the recognition of qualifications and quality assurance in higher education;
- by considering the issue of good governance in higher education, focusing especially on student involvement;
- by underlining the fundamental role of research in universities and the need to link the European Higher Education Area with the European Research Area mentioned in Recommendation 1541 (2001) on young scientists in Europe;
- by safeguarding cultural diversity, regional education powers and the autonomy of universities;
- by studying the role of the Steering Committee for Higher Education and Research as a link between the signatories of the Bologna Declaration and non-signatories and between ministry and academic representatives, as well as the student representatives with observer status on the committee;
ii. call on all European states in the Bologna Process to ratify the Lisbon Recognition Convention as an essential means of facilitating the establishment of the European Higher Education Area;
iii. urge all member states that have not yet done so to base their higher education policies and reforms on the guidelines and priorities of the Bologna Process;
iv. study the possibility of also involving states that are not signatories to the European Cultural Convention such as the countries on the southern shore of the Mediterranean;
v. initiate discussion on the definition of public authorities’ responsibilities in higher education and research and on governance in higher education.
II. EXPLANAORY MEMORANDUM
by Mr Varela i Serra
The Bologna Process is the most important and wide ranging reform of higher education in Europe since the immediate aftermath of 1968. The ultimate aim of the Process is to establish a European Higher Education Area by 2010 in which staff and students can move with ease and have fair recognition of their qualifications. This overall goal is reflected in the six main goals defined in the Bologna Declaration (Appendix 1):
• a system of easily readable and comparable degrees, including the implementation of the Diploma Supplement;
• a system essentially based on two main cycles:
- a first cycle relevant to the labour market;
- a second cycle requiring the completion of the first cycle;
• a system of accumulation and transfer of credits;
• the mobility of students, teachers, researchers, etc;
• cooperation in quality assurance;
• the European dimension of higher education1.
An important goal of the Process is thus to move higher education in Europe towards a more transparent and mutually recognized system which would place the diversified national systems into a common frame based on three outcome levels – often referred to as first degree or Bachelor, second degree or Master, and Doctoral - and recognized different paths according to which they were achieved.
The Process is driven by Ministerial meetings every two years, the first of which was held in Prague in May 2001. The second Ministerial conference after Bologna will be held in Berlin on 18 – 19 September 2003. Between Ministerial conferences, the Process is driven forward by the Bologna Follow Up Group, consisting of representatives of all participating countries as well as of the European Commission and observers from the Council of Europe, the European University Association, ESIB - the National Unions of Students in Europe and EURASHE – the European Association of Institutions in Higher Education, representing non-university higher education institutions. A smaller Preparatory Group prepares the next Ministerial conference.
The Ministerial meeting in Prague took stock of progress in the move towards a European Higher Education Area and gave further impetus to the Process by addressing a limited number of new areas. This is less a shift in priorities and attention than an expansion of the Process to a number of new topics, or at least by giving certain topics more emphasis. The Ministers confirmed the orientations of Bologna and in stronger terms underlined the importance of higher education for democratic values and the value of a diversity of cultures and languages as well as of higher education systems. While the Prague communiqué (Appendix 2) does not use the term “democratic culture”, this is in effect one of its main concerns, all the more so as it also underlines the need for student participation.
An important step forward was the actual recognition of students as “competent, active and constructive partners” and the emphasis on cooperation with higher education institutions, which was in a symbolic way demonstrated by the “dialogue” between Ministers, European higher education institutions and students on the first day of the meeting and incorporating some parts of the declarations of Salamanca (Appendix 3) and Göteborg (Appendix 4) into the Prague Communiqué. For example, the students were instrumental in bringing in the aspect of the social dimension of the Process and the recognition of education as a public good and a public responsibility.
At least two further areas were underlined more strongly in Prague than in Bologna. One is lifelong learning, an issue that many higher education institutions have been slow to address, while the second element is a stronger emphasis on quality assurance and not least the close link between quality assurance and the recognition of qualifications.
As a follow-up to Salamanca and a preparation for Berlin, higher education institutions met in Graz on 29-31 May 2003. Five themes were discussed : higher education in a globalised world; the links between higher education and research; quality culture in Europe’s universities; institutional governance and management and pushing forward Bologna and Prague.
B. The Council of Europe Contribution
The Parliamentary Assembly was present in Bologna in 1988 when Mr Nuñez Encabo, Chairman of the Sub-Committee on University Questions, attended the signing of the Magna Charta of the European Universities on the occasion of the 900th anniversary of the Alma Mater.
The Council of Europe is now firmly established as an important contributor to the Bologna Process, in several ways:
(i) as an observer in the formal structures of the process; on the Follow Up Group as well as on the Preparatory Group;
(ii) as a bridge between those countries party to the Process and the remaining European countries that may benefit from the process but that are not (yet) party to it;
(iii) as a platform for debate between Ministry and academic representatives, through the double composition of the Steering Committee on Higher Education and Research (CD-ESR) representatives, and the role of the European University Association (EUA) and ESIB as observers on the Committee as well as the Council’s close cooperation with both organizations;
(iv) as an important actor in the field of recognition;
(v) through other aspects of the activities programme.
While all five are important points, it is suggested that the discussion should focus on the activities programme with some attention also being given to how the double composition of the CD-ESR can be taken full advantage of.
The recognition of qualifications is one of the Council of Europe’s long standing contributions to higher education in Europe and one that plays a key role in the Bologna Process. The Council of Europe/Unesco Recognition Convention as well as the Recommendation on criteria and procedures and the Code of Good Practice in the provision of Transnational Education are important standard setting instruments. The European Network of Information Centres (ENIC), in close cooperation with the National Academic Recognition Information Centres (NARIC) Network, is working on areas of importance to the Bologna Process, including the cooperation between the recognition and quality assurance communities. The importance of the ENIC Network as an advisory body to the CD-ESR should be made more visible. The conference on recognition issues in Lisbon also identified a number of additional issues that needs further work:
(i) information on recognition;
(ii) recognition for the labour market;
(iii) recognition of non-traditional qualifications and learning outcomes;
(iv) recognition of transnational education.
In addition, two further policy issues in which the Council of Europe has proven competence are emerging strongly in the Process. On the one hand, there is a need to define more clearly the public responsibility for higher education, following the Ministers’ statement in Prague that higher education is a “public good and a public responsibility”. The Council of Europe made valuable contributions in this sense to an official Bologna seminar on the Social Dimension of Higher Education (Athens, 19 – 20 February 2003). The issue of public responsibility is linked to – but goes beyond - the issue of trade in higher education in the context of GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services), where we have argued that the Council of Europe/Unesco Convention and other recognition instruments should serve as standards against which to measure the quality of “trade offers” in higher education. The link between quality assurance and recognition was underlined by the Ministers in their Prague Communiqué, in which they called on the recognition and quality assurance networks to cooperate more closely and is also a part of this discussion. Steps are already being taken in this direction. However, it may also be worth underlining that as late as 1997, when the Lisbon Recognition Convention was adopted, it proved difficult to win approval for forceful provisions on quality assurance, or rather on the outcomes as quality assurance as a factor in the recognition of individual qualifications, in the text of the Convention.
The second issue has to do with higher education governance, which is an area of long standing Council of Europe interest both through the intergovernmental programme and targeted cooperation. The Council of Europe is contributing a report on student participation in higher education governance to a Bologna seminar to be held in Oslo on 12 – 14 June 2003, for which it has carried out a survey of actual practice and will also be drawing on the CD-ESR pilot project on the University as a Site of Citizenship. This issue also links to a passage that has been given somewhat less publicity, the Bologna Declaration also point to the role of higher education in developing and maintaining democratic societies, with a specific reference to South East Europe. In other words, the Ministers recognized that higher education has an important mission in building and maintaining the democratic culture without which democratic institutions cannot function.
Lifelong learning was the topic of a CD-ESR project, with special emphasis on equity, which led to Recommendation (2002) 6 by the Committee of Ministers to member states on higher education policies in lifelong learning. The transferability in and openness2 of the system are two important objectives of the lifelong learning attitude to the implementation of the principles of the Bologna Declaration into higher education systems. In this sense, we also understand lifelong learning as one of the priority topics in the Bologna process, as underlined in particular in the Prague Communiqué. In June 2003, the Czech authorities will organize a seminar on Recognition and Credit Systems (European Credit Transfer System and ECTS compatible) for Higher Education in the Context of Lifelong Learning, to which the Council of Europe will contribute, in particular on the basis of the third workshop of the Lifelong Learning project, on qualifications in higher education.
The Council of Europe’s role as a bridge between “Bologna” and “non-Bologna” countries implies a particular role in helping disseminate information on the Bologna Process in the countries party to the European Cultural Convention that are not party to the Bologna Process as well providing advice on higher education reform. The most comprehensive examples of this is the Council’s efforts, with the EUA, in favour of higher education in Serbia as well as its work on higher education legislation in Kosovo. The aspect of Bologna was also very present in the advice given on draft higher education legislation for Republika Srpska in May – July 2002.
The Council has further organized information seminars on the Bologna process in Albania (November 2002), Bosnian and Herzegovina (November 2002 and April 2003) and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” (February 2003) and aims to follow up these with targeted activities on specific Bologna-related topics. Thus, the Council is currently involved in the revision of higher education legislation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and has produced an opinion on possible adjustments of the current higher education legislation in “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” in light of the Bologna goals.
Russia has also expressed a strong interest in the Bologna process, and the Council of Europe organized a national conference on the Bologna Process in Saint Petersburg in December 2002 to be followed by a second conference in Moscow in July 2003.
These activities are also linked to the question of further accessions to the Bologna Process and of taking stock of the progress made in implementing the goals of the Process is currently being debated within the follow up structures and is likely to be on the agenda of the Ministerial conference in Berlin. The Council of Europe is contributing actively to this debate with the goal of making the Process as broad as possible yet also making sure that there is a real chance of implementing its policy goals. So far, Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Holy See, Serbia and Montenegro and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” have applied for accession, and these applications will be decided on at the Ministerial conference in Berlin on 18 – 19 September 2003.
In this context, it may be worth underlining that the Bologna Process has two aspects. On the one hand, it is an “example of good practice” indicating higher education policies and practices that are seen as beneficial by the participating countries and that may be of interest to other countries or systems of higher education, especially in newly developing democracies and countries in transition where there is a need for reforms in the higher education sector. On the other hand, it is a formal structure seeking to set up a European Higher Education Area with a number of common characteristics defined in the Bologna Declaration and subsequent policy texts such as the Prague Communiqué and within which students and staff will be able to move with relative ease. In the first sense, all countries can use the example of the Bologna Process as a guide in their own higher education policies or in selected areas thereof without any further obligations or geographical or political limitations. In the second sense, the European Higher Education Area will be based on commitments and coordinated policies in key areas.
Already in September 2001 the Assembly adopted Recommendation 1540 on Higher Education in South East Europe which acknowledged the Bologna Declaration as a key document in higher education in Europe and which called on member States from South East Europe to join the Bologna process.
The Council of Europe must continue and step up its contribution to establishing the European Higher Education Area. The Committee of Ministers should foster the role played by the Council of Europe in the Bologna Process, which aims at establishing a European Higher Education Area by 2010.
In particular, the Council of Europe should contribute to the Bologna Process in the following areas:
- the recognition of qualifications and the reform of qualification arrangements, based in particular on the Council of Europe/Unesco Recognition Convention (ETS 165);
- the definition of public authorities’ responsibilities in higher education and research;
- governance in higher education.
The Council of Europe should also continue to play a key role as a link between the Bologna Process and the States Parties to the European Cultural Convention that are not yet parties to the process and help them and those that have just joined the process to achieve the objectives of the European Higher Education Area.
It should study the possibility of also involving states that are not signatories to the European Cultural Convention such as the countries on the southern shore of the Mediterranean.
Lastly, the CD-ESR should continue to capitalise on its dual composition involving both government and academic representatives and act as a discussion forum for higher education reform in Europe.
THE BOLOGNA DECLARATION
Joint declaration of the European Ministers of Education convened in Bologna on the 19th of June 1999
The European process, thanks to the extraordinary achievements of the last few years, has become an increasingly concrete and relevant reality for the Union and its citizens. Enlargement prospects together with deepening relations with other European countries, provide even wider dimensions to that reality. Meanwhile, we are witnessing a growing awareness in large parts of the political and academic world and in public opinion of the need to establish a more complete and far-reaching Europe, in particular building upon and strengthening its intellectual, cultural, social and scientific and technological dimensions.
A Europe of Knowledge is now widely recognised as an irreplaceable factor for social and human growth and as an indispensable component to consolidate and enrich the European citizenship, capable of giving its citizens the necessary competences to face the challenges of the new millennium, together with an awareness of shared values and belonging to a common social and cultural space.
The importance of education and educational co-operation in the development and strengthening of stable, peaceful and democratic societies is universally acknowledged as paramount, the more so in view of the situation in South East Europe.
The Sorbonne declaration of 25th of May 1998, which was underpinned by these considerations, stressed the Universities' central role in developing European cultural dimensions. It emphasised the creation of the European area of higher education as a key way to promote citizens' mobility and employability and the Continent's overall development.
Several European countries have accepted the invitation to commit themselves to achieving the objectives set out in the declaration, by signing it or expressing their agreement in principle. The direction taken by several higher education reforms launched in the meantime in Europe has proved many Governments' determination to act.
European higher education institutions, for their part, have accepted the challenge and taken up a main role in constructing the European area of higher education, also in the wake of the fundamental principles laid down in the Bologna Magna Charta Universitatum of 1988. This is of the highest importance, given that Universities' independence and autonomy ensure that higher education and research systems continuously adapt to changing needs, society's demands and advances in scientific knowledge.
The course has been set in the right direction and with meaningful purpose. The achievement of greater compatibility and comparability of the systems of higher education nevertheless requires continual momentum in order to be fully accomplished. We need to support it through promoting concrete measures to achieve tangible forward steps. The 18th June meeting saw participation by authoritative experts and scholars from all our countries and provides us with very useful suggestions on the initiatives to be taken.
We must in particular look at the objective of increasing the international competitiveness of the European system of higher education. The vitality and efficiency of any civilisation can be measured by the appeal that its culture has for other countries. We need to ensure that the European higher education system acquires a world-wide degree of attraction equal to our extraordinary cultural and scientific traditions.
While affirming our support to the general principles laid down in the Sorbonne declaration, we engage in co-ordinating our policies to reach in the short term, and in any case within the first decade of the third millennium, the following objectives, which we consider to be of primary relevance in order to establish the European area of higher education and to promote the European system of higher education world-wide:
Adoption of a system of easily readable and comparable degrees, also through the implementation of the Diploma Supplement, in order to promote European citizens employability and the international competitiveness of the European higher education system
Adoption of a system essentially based on two main cycles, undergraduate and graduate. Access to the second cycle shall require successful completion of first cycle studies, lasting a minimum of three years. The degree awarded after the first cycle shall also be relevant to the European labour market as an appropriate level of qualification. The second cycle should lead to the master and/or doctorate degree as in many European countries.
Establishment of a system of credits - such as in the ECTS system - as a proper means of promoting the most widespread student mobility. Credits could also be acquired in non-higher education contexts, including lifelong learning, provided they are recognised by receiving Universities concerned.
Promotion of mobility by overcoming obstacles to the effective exercise of free movement with particular attention to:
• for students, access to study and training opportunities and to related services
• for teachers, researchers and administrative staff, recognition and valorisation of periods spent in a European context researching, teaching and training, without prejudicing their statutory rights.
Promotion of European co-operation in quality assurance with a view to developing comparable criteria and methodologies.
Promotion of the necessary European dimensions in higher education, particularly with regards to curricular development, inter-institutional co-operation, mobility schemes and integrated programmes of study, training and research.
We hereby undertake to attain these objectives - within the framework of our institutional competences and taking full respect of the diversity of cultures, languages, national education systems and of University autonomy - to consolidate the European area of higher education. To that end, we will pursue the ways of intergovernmental co-operation, together with those of non governmental European organisations with competence on higher education. We expect Universities again to respond promptly and positively and to contribute actively to the success of our endeavour.
Convinced that the establishment of the European area of higher education requires constant support, supervision and adaptation to the continuously evolving needs, we decide to meet again within two years in order to assess the progress achieved and the new steps to be taken.
TOWARDS THE EUROPEAN HIGHER EDUCATION AREA
Communiqué of the meeting of European Ministers in charge of Higher Education
in Prague on May 19th 2001
Two years after signing the Bologna Declaration and three years after the Sorbonne Declaration, European Ministers in charge of higher education, representing 32 signatories, met in Prague in order to review the progress achieved and to set directions and priorities for the coming years of the process. Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the objective of establishing the European Higher Education Area by 2010. The choice of Prague to hold this meeting is a symbol of their will to involve the whole of Europe in the process in the light of enlargement of the European Union.
Ministers welcomed and reviewed the report "Furthering the Bologna Process" commissioned by the follow-up group and found that the goals laid down in the Bologna Declaration have been widely accepted and used as a base for the development of higher education by most signatories as well as by universities and other higher education institutions. Ministers reaffirmed that efforts to promote mobility must be continued to enable students, teachers, researchers and administrative staff to benefit from the richness of the European Higher Education Area including its democratic values, diversity of cultures and languages and the diversity of the higher education systems.
Ministers took note of the Convention of European higher education institutions held in Salamanca on 29-30 March and the recommendations of the Convention of European Students, held in Göteborg on 24-25 March, and appreciated the active involvement of the European University Association (EUA) and the National Unions of Students in Europe (ESIB) in the Bologna process. They further noted and appreciated the many other initiatives to take the process further. Ministers also took note of the constructive assistance of the European Commission.
Ministers observed that the activities recommended in the Declaration concerning degree structure have been intensely and widely dealt with in most countries. They especially appreciated how the work on quality assurance is moving forward. Ministers recognized the need to cooperate to address the challenges brought about by transnational education. They also recognized the need for a lifelong learning perspective on education.
FURTHER ACTIONS FOLLOWING THE SIX OBJECTIVES OF THE BOLOGNA PROCESS
As the Bologna Declaration sets out, Ministers asserted that building the European Higher Education Area is a condition for enhancing the attractiveness and competitiveness of higher education institutions in Europe. They supported the idea that higher education should be considered a public good and is and will remain a public responsibility (regulations etc.), and that students are full members of the higher education community. From this point of view Ministers commented on the further process as follows:
Adoption of a system of easily readable and comparable degrees
Ministers strongly encouraged universities and other higher education institutions to take full advantage of existing national legislation and European tools aimed at facilitating academic and professional recognition of course units, degrees and other awards, so that citizens can effectively use their qualifications, competencies and skills throughout the European Higher Education Area.
Ministers called upon existing organisations and networks such as NARIC and ENIC to promote, at institutional, national and European level, simple, efficient and fair recognition reflecting the underlying diversity of qualifications.
Adoption of a system essentially based on two main cycles
Ministers noted with satisfaction that the objective of a degree structure based on two main cycles, articulating higher education in undergraduate and graduate studies, has been tackled and discussed. Some countries have already adopted this structure and several others are considering it with great interest. It is important to note that in many countries bachelor's and master's degrees, or comparable two cycle degrees, can be obtained at universities as well as at other higher education institutions. Programmes leading to a degree may, and indeed should, have different orientations and various profiles in order to accommodate a diversity of individual, academic and labour market needs as concluded at the Helsinki seminar on bachelor level degrees (February 2001).
Establishment of a system of credits
Ministers emphasized that for greater flexibility in learning and qualification processes the adoption of common cornerstones of qualifications, supported by a credit system such as the ECTS or one that is ECTS-compatible, providing both transferability and accumulation functions, is necessary. Together with mutually recognized quality assurance systems such arrangements will facilitate students' access to the European labour market and enhance the compatibility, attractiveness and competitiveness of European higher education. The generalized use of such a credit system and of the Diploma Supplement will foster progress in this direction.
Promotion of mobility
Ministers reaffirmed that the objective of improving the mobility of students, teachers, researchers and administrative staff as set out in the Bologna Declaration is of the utmost importance. Therefore, they confirmed their commitment to pursue the removal of all obstacles to the free movement of students, teachers, researchers and administrative staff and emphasized the social dimension of mobility. They took note of the possibilities for mobility offered by the European Community programmes and the progress achieved in this field, e.g. in launching the Mobility Action Plan endorsed by the European Council in Nice in 2000.
Promotion of European cooperation in quality assurance
Ministers recognized the vital role that quality assurance systems play in ensuring high quality standards and in facilitating the comparability of qualifications throughout Europe. They also encouraged closer cooperation between recognition and quality assurance networks. They emphasized the necessity of close European cooperation and mutual trust in and acceptance of national quality assurance systems. Further they encouraged universities and other higher education institutions to disseminate examples of best practice and to design scenarios for mutual acceptance of evaluation and accreditation/certification mechanisms. Ministers called upon the universities and other higher educations institutions, national agencies and the European Network of Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA), in cooperation with corresponding bodies from countries which are not members of ENQA, to collaborate in establishing a common framework of reference and to disseminate best practice.
Promotion of the European dimensions in higher education
In order to further strengthen the important European dimensions of higher education and graduate employability Ministers called upon the higher education sector to increase the development of modules, courses and curricula at all levels with "European" content, orientation or organisation. This concerns particularly modules, courses and degree curricula offered in partnership by institutions from different countries and leading to a recognized joint degree.
FURTHERMORE MINISTERS EMPHASIZED THE FOLLOWING POINTS:
Lifelong learning is an essential element of the European Higher Education Area. In the future Europe, built upon a knowledge-based society and economy, lifelong learning strategies are necessary to face the challenges of competitiveness and the use of new technologies and to improve social cohesion, equal opportunities and the quality of life.
Higher education institutions and students
Ministers stressed that the involvement of universities and other higher education institutions and of students as competent, active and constructive partners in the establishment and shaping of a European Higher Education Area is needed and welcomed. The institutions have demonstrated the importance they attach to the creation of a compatible and efficient, yet diversified and adaptable European Higher Education Area. Ministers also pointed out that quality is the basic underlying condition for trust, relevance, mobility, compatibility and attractiveness in the European Higher Education Area. Ministers expressed their appreciation of the contributions toward developing study programmes combining academic quality with relevance to lasting employability and called for a continued proactive role of higher education institutions. Ministers affirmed that students should participate in and influence the organisation and content of education at universities and other higher education institutions. Ministers also reaffirmed the need, recalled by students, to take account of the social dimension in the Bologna process.
Promoting the attractiveness of the European Higher Education Area
Ministers agreed on the importance of enhancing attractiveness of European higher education to students from Europe and other parts of the world. The readability and comparability of European higher education degrees world-wide should be enhanced by the development of a common framework of qualifications, as well as by coherent quality assurance and accreditation/certification mechanisms and by increased information efforts. Ministers particularly stressed that the quality of higher education and research is and should be an important determinant of Europe's international attractiveness and competitiveness. Ministers agreed that more attention should be paid to the benefit of a European Higher Education Area with institutions and programmes with different profiles. They called for increased collaboration between the European countries concerning the possible implications and perspectives of transnational education.
Ministers committed themselves to continue their cooperation based on the objectives set out in the Bologna Declaration, building on the similarities and benefiting from the differences between cultures, languages and national systems, and drawing on all possibilities of intergovernmental cooperation and the ongoing dialogue with European universities and other higher education institutions and student organisations as well as the Community programmes.
Ministers welcomed new members to join the Bologna process after applications from Ministers representing countries for which the European Community programmes SOCRATEs and LEONARDO da VINCI or TEMPUS-CARDS are open. They accepted applications from Croatia, Cyprus and Turkey.
Ministers decided that a new follow-up meeting will take place in the second half of 2003 in Berlin to review progress and set directions and priorities for the next stages of the process towards the European Higher Education Area. They confirmed the need for a structure for the follow-up work, consisting of a follow-up group and a preparatory group. The follow-up group should be composed of representatives of all signatories, new participants and the European Commission, and should be chaired by the EU Presidency at the time. The preparatory group should be composed of representatives of the countries hosting the previous ministerial meetings and the next ministerial meeting, two EU member states and two non-EU member states; these latter four representatives will be elected by the follow-up group. The EU Presidency at the time and the European Commission will also be part of the preparatory group. The preparatory group will be chaired by the representative of the country hosting the next ministerial meeting.
The European University Association, the European Association of Institutions in Higher Education (EURASHE), the National Unions of Students in Europe and the Council of Europe should be consulted in the follow-up work. In order to take the process further, Ministers encouraged the follow-up group to arrange seminars to explore the following areas: cooperation concerning accreditation and quality assurance, recognition issues and the use of credits in the Bologna process, the development of joint degrees, the social dimension, with specific attention to obstacles to mobility, and the enlargement of the Bologna process, lifelong learning and student involvement.
SHAPING THE EUROPEAN HIGHER EDUCATION AREA
Message from the Salamanca Convention of European higher education institutions
Over 300 European higher education institutions and their main representative organisations, gathered in Salamanca on 29-30 March 2001 to prepare their input to the Prague meeting of the Ministers in charge of higher education in the countries involved in the Bologna process, have agreed on the following goals, principles and priorities.
Shaping the future
European higher education institutions reaffirm their support to the principles of the Bologna Declaration and their commitment to the creation of the European Higher Education Area by the end of the decade. They see the establishing of the European University Association (EUA) in Salamanca as of symbolic and practical value to convey their voice more effectively to governments and society and thus to support them in shaping their own future in the European Higher Education Area.
AUTONOMY WITH ACCOUNTABILITY
Progress requires that European universities be empowered to act in line with the guiding principle of autonomy with accountability. As autonomous and responsible legal, educational and social entities, they confirm their adhesion to the principles of the Magna Charta Universitatum of 1988 and, in particular, academic freedom. Thus, universities have to be able to shape their strategy, choose their priorities in teaching and research, allocate their resources, profile their curricula and set their criteria for the acceptance of professors and students. European higher education institutions accept the challenges of operating in a competitive environment at home, in Europe and in the world, but to do so they need the necessary managerial freedom, less rigid regulatory frameworks and fair financing or they will be placed at a disadvantage in co-operation and competition. The dynamics needed for the completion of the European Higher Education Area will remain unfulfilled or will result in unequal competition, if the current over-regulation and minute administrative and financial control of higher education in many countries is upheld. Competition serves quality in higher education, is not exclusive of co-operation and cannot be reduced to a commercial concept. Universities in some countries in Europe are not yet in a position to compete on equal terms and are in particular faced with unwanted brain drain within Europe.
EDUCATION AS A PUBLIC RESPONSIBILITY
The European Higher Education Area must be built on the European traditions of education as a public responsibility; of broad and open access to undergraduate as well as graduate studies; of education for personal development; and of citizenship as well as of short and long-term social relevance.
RESEARCH-BASED HIGHER EDUCATION
As research is a driving force of higher education, the creation of the European Higher Education Area must go hand in hand with that of the European Research Area.
European higher education is characterised by its diversity in terms of languages, national systems, institutional types and profiles and curricular orientation. At the same time its future depends on its ability to organise this valuable diversity to effectively produce positive outcomes rather than difficulties and flexibility rather than opacity. Higher education institutions wish to build on convergence - in particular on common denominators shared across borders in a given subject area - and to deal with diversity as assets, rather than as reasons for non-recognition or exclusion. They are committed to creating sufficient self-regulation to ensure the minimum level of cohesion needed to avoid that their efforts towards compatibility are undermined by too much variance in the definition and implementation of credits, main degree categories and quality criteria.
2. KEY ISSUES
QUALITY AS A FUNDAMENTAL BUILDING STONE
The European Higher Education Area needs to build on academic core values while meeting stakeholders' expectations, i.e., demonstrating quality. Indeed, quality assessment must take into consideration the goals and mission of institutions and programmes. It requires a balance between innovation and tradition, academic excellence and social/economic relevance, the coherence of curricula and students' freedom of choice. It encompasses teaching and research as well as governance and administration, responsiveness to students' needs and the provision of non-educational services. Inherent quality does not suffice, it needs to be demonstrated and guaranteed in order to be acknowledged and trusted by students, partners and society at home, in Europe and in the world. Quality is the basic underlying condition for trust, relevance, mobility, compatibility and attractiveness in the European Higher Education Area.
As research evaluation has an international dimension so does quality assurance in higher education. In Europe, quality assurance should not be based on a single agency enforcing a common set of standards. The way into the future will be to design mechanisms at European level for the mutual acceptance of quality assurance outcomes, with "accreditation" as one possible option. Such mechanisms should respect national, linguistic and discipline differences and not overload universities.
Relevance to the European labour market needs to be reflected in different ways in curricula, depending on whether the competencies acquired are for employment after the first or the second degree. Employability in a lifelong learning perspective is best served through the inherent value of quality education, the diversity of approaches and course profiles, the flexibility of programmes with multiple entry and exit points and the development of transversal skills and competencies such as communication and languages, ability to mobilise knowledge, problem solving, team work and social processes.
The free mobility of students, staff and graduates is an essential dimension of the European Higher Education Area. European universities want to foster more mobility- both of the "horizontal" and the "vertical" type - and do not see virtual mobility as a substitute to physical mobility. They are willing to use existing instruments for recognition and mobility (ECTS, Lisbon Convention, Diploma Supplement, NARIC/ENIC network) in a positive and flexible way. In view of the importance of teaching staff with European experience, universities wish to eliminate nationality requirements and other obstacles and disincentives for academic careers in Europe. However, a common European approach to virtual mobility and transnational education is also needed.
Compatible qualifications at the undergraduate and graduate levels
Higher education institutions endorse the move towards a compatible qualification framework based on a main articulation in undergraduate and postgraduate studies. There is broad agreement that first degrees should require 180 to 240 ECTS points but need to be diverse leading to employment or mainly preparing for further, postgraduate studies. Under certain circumstances a university may decide to establish an integrated curriculum leading directly to a Master-level degree. Subject-based networks have an important role to play to inform such decisions. Universities are convinced of the benefits of a credit accumulation and transfer system based on ECTS and on their basic right to decide on the acceptability of credits obtained elsewhere.
European higher education institutions want to be in a position to attract talent from all over the world. This requires action at the institutional, national and European level. Specific measures include the adaptation of curricula, degrees readable inside and outside Europe, credible quality assurance measures, programmes taught in major world languages, adequate information and marketing, welcoming services for foreign students and scholars, and strategic networking. Success also depends on the speedy removal of prohibitive immigration and labour market regulations.
European higher education institutions recognise that their students need and demand qualifications which they can effectively use for the purpose of study and career all over Europe. The institutions and their networks and organisations acknowledge their role and responsibility in this regard and confirm their willingness to organise themselves accordingly within the framework of autonomy.
Higher education institutions call on governments, in their national and European contexts, to facilitate and encourage change and to provide a framework for co-ordination and guidance towards convergence, and affirm their capacity and willingness to initiate and support progress within a joint endeavour
• to redefine higher education and research for the whole of Europe;
• to reform and rejuvenate curricula and higher education as a whole;
• to enhance and build on the research dimension in higher education;
• to adopt mutually acceptable mechanisms for the evaluation, assurance and certification of quality;
• to build on common denominators with a European dimension and ensure compatibility between diverse institutions, curricula and degrees;
• to promote the mobility of students and staff and the employability of graduates in Europe;
• to support the modernisation efforts of universities in countries where the challenges of the European Higher Education Area are greatest;
• to meet the challenges of being readable, attractive and competitive at home, in Europe and in the world; and
• to keep considering higher education as an essential public responsibility
STUDENT GÖTEBORG DECLARATION
25 March 2001 - Göteborg, Sweden
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.
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.
Reporting committee: Committee on Culture, Science and Education
Reference to committee: Doc. 9591 and Reference No 2821 of 31.3.2003
Draft recommendation adopted by the committee on 23 June 2003 with one abstention
Members of the committee: MM. de Puig (Chairman), Baronne Hooper MM. Prisacaru, Smorawinski (Vice-Persons), Apostoli, Banks, Barbieri, Berceanu, Braga, Buzatu, Mrs Castro (Alternate: Varela i Serra), MM. Chaklein (Alternate: Fedorov), Colombier (Alternate: Kucheida), Mrs Cryer, MM. Cubreacov, Dačic, Dalgaard, Mrs Damanaki, Mr Debono Grech (Alternate: Falzon), Mrs Delvaux-Stehres Mr Devinski (Alternate: Duka-Zolomi), Mrs Domingues, Mrs Dromberg, MM, Eversdijk, Mrs Eymer, Mrs Fehr, Mrs Fernández-Capel (Alternate: Mrs Agudo), MM. Gadzinowski (Alternate: Malachowski), Galchenko, Galoyan, Gentil, Mrs Glovacki-Bernardi, MM. Goris, Gündüz I, Gündüz S, Gunnarsson, Mrs Hadziahmetoviċ, Hegyi, Howlin (Alternate: Mooney), Huseynov R, Iannuzzi, MM. Jakic, Jakovljev, Jarab, Jurgens, Mrs Katseli (Alternate: Sfyriou), Mrs Klaar, Mrs Labucka, MM. Legendre, Lengagne, Letzgus, Libicki, Livaneli, Mrs Lucyga, MM. Lydeka, Malgieri, Marxer, Mrs Melandri (Alternate: Gaburro), MM. Melnikov (Alternate: Gostev), Mestan (Alternate: Pavlov), Mezihorak, Mrs Milotinova, Mrs Muttonen, Mr O’Hara, Mrs Ohlsson, MM. Podeschi, Rakhansky, Rockenbauer, Rybak, Mrs Samoilovska-Cvetanova (Alternate: Mrs Petrova-Mitevska), MM. Schellens, Schneider, Shybko, Sizopoulos, Mrs Skarbøvik, MM. Sudarenkov, Tusek, Vakilov (Alternate: Aliyev), Mrs Westerlund Panke, MM. Wodarg, ZZ (Andorra),
N.B. The names of those present at the meeting are printed in italics
Head of secretariat: Mr Grayson
Secretaries to the committee: Mr Ary, Mrs Theophilova-Permaul
1 Cf. Pedro Lourtie, presentation to the Conference of Directors General for Higher Education and Heads of the Rectors Conferences of the European Union, Aveiro, April 2000, reproduced at http://www.esib.org/prague/documents/follow_up.htm
2 Meaning open pathways which allow continuity in studies at any age and time.