The Bologna process
The Bologna process is a process of forming a unified European system of higher education based on the commonality of the principles of operation. Bologna reforms can be characterized by such terms as « focus on outcomes» and «student-centered learning». This involves an understanding of learning outcomes in a broad sense. They are designed to become essential elements of changes in teaching practice by having connections with ECTS, modularization and institutional freedom. In is necessary to maintain a balance between three levels of the Bologna process: specified goals at the European level, which affect governments, higher education institutions and students; the central role of universities is in the process of implementation; the role of national policies and legislation is to connect first two levels, and to facilitate the process in each country. The Bologna process is a means of protection and improvement of higher education and research studies in the European region, means of increasing transparency and mobility. The Bologna process recognizes the place of higher education in public assets, pays a special attention to quality, but argues that support of the quality and its improvement demands greater public investments in the system and in its human resources.
The onset of the Bologna process can be traced to the mid-70s of the 20th century, when the Council of Ministers of the European Union adopted a resolution on the first program of cooperation in the field of education. In 1998, the Ministers of education from four European countries (France, Germany, the UK and Italy), who participated in the celebration of the 800th anniversary of the University of Paris, agreed that the segmentation of European higher education in Europe hinders the development of research and education. They signed the Sorbonne Declaration (Sorbonne Joint Declaration, 1998). The purpose of the declaration was to provide general provisions for Standardization of the European Higher Education Area, which should encourage mobility of students and graduates, as well as of the staff. In addition, it had to ensure the compliance of qualifications with the modern requirements of the labor market. The objectives of the Sorbonne declaration were confirmed in 1999 with the signing of the Bologna Declaration, when 29 countries expressed their willingness to make a commitment to improve the competitiveness of the European higher education, emphasizing the need to preserve the independence and autonomy of all higher education institutions. All provisions of the Bologna Declaration have been set as means for voluntary harmonization process but not as rigid legal obligations.
The main goals of the Bologna process: to provide the access to the field of higher education, to further improve the quality and attractiveness of the European higher education, to expand the mobility of students and teachers, as well as to ensure successful employment of college graduates due to the fact that all academic degrees and other qualifications should be take into account the needs of the labor market.
Goal of the declaration — the establishment of the European Higher Education Area, as well as the activation of the European Higher Education Area worldwide.The declaration contains six key principles:
- The adoption of the system of comparable degrees, including through the introduction of the diploma supplement to ensure the employability of European citizens and the international competitiveness of the European higher education system;
- The adoption of the three-tier system of education: Bachelor, Master and PhD;
- The introduction of the European system of the credit transfer to support large-scale student mobility (credit system). It also provides the right of students to choose their disciplines. It recommended adopting ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) as a basis for this process, making it a funded system capable of operating in the framework of the concept called “life-long learning”;
- Significant development of student mobility (based on the performance of two preceding paragraphs). The enhancement of the mobility of teachers and other staff by the means of set-off of the period spent by them while working in the European region. The establishment of standards for transnational education;
- The promotion of the European cooperation in the field of quality assurance with a view to develop comparable criteria and methodologies;
- The promotion of necessary European dimensions in the field of higher education, especially in the area of curriculum development, inter-institutional cooperation, mobility schemes and integrated programs of study, as well as practical training and research.
The participants of the Bologna Process include 49 countries (2015) and the European Commission. All these countries are the members of the European Union and Eastern Partnership.Mandatory parameters of the Bologna Process
- A three-tier system of higher education;
- Academic Credit System (ECTS);
- Academic mobility of students, faculty and administrative staff of universities;
- European Diploma Supplement;
- Quality assurance of higher education;
- The establishment of the unified European Research Area.
- Unified European assessment;
- Active involvement of students;
- Social support of low-income students;
- Life-long learning.
- Harmonization of the content of education in areas of training;
- Nonlinear areas of students’ education, elective courses;
- Module system;
- Distance education, online courses;
- Academic rankings of students and faculty staff.