A meeting on the single European Higher Education Area ended in Tartu today. At the meeting, representatives from approximately 50 countries prepared the spring ministers’ meeting in Paris and the joint declaration that underlines the countries’ commitment to implementing the long-agreed actions for achieving a European Higher Education Area (EHAA) based on common criteria.
The development of a single EHAA – i.e. the Bologna Process – was launched nearly 20 years ago. During this period, the countries have internationalised higher education systems and harmonised their structure, but the speed of implementing the agreed measures is still uneven across the countries.
The two-day meeting in Tartu focused on preparing the Paris Communiqué – a document guiding the further development of higher education in countries participating in the Bologna Process.
The Head of the Higher Education Department of the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research Margus Haidak noted that the implementation of the set targets has become a critical issue in the Bologna Process. “The document we are currently preparing sends a strong message to all participating countries in that any commitments assumed should be respected and changes should be put into place. Notably the implementation of the 3+2 system, adherence to common quality assurance criteria, and the mutual recognition of qualifications,” said Haidak.
Institutions of higher education have an increasingly important role in shaping responsible members of the community and meeting participants talked about the fundamental values created within such institutions that are related to, for example, academic freedom, inclusion, the institutions’ autonomy, and more.
The meeting brought together representatives from the 48 countries that have joined the Bologna Process as well as from the European Commission, the Council of Europe, UNESCO and other international organisations.
- The Bologna Process was launched in 1999 when the education ministers of 29 countries signed an agreement for establishing a single European Higher Education Area.
- Six lines of action were identified: comparable levels of higher education and qualifications; introducing a higher education model based on Bachelor’s and Master’s studies; implementing the European system of transfer of credits; promoting the mobility of students and teachers; cooperation in quality assurance; and fostering a European dimension in higher education.
- Today, the Bologna Process involves 48 countries and includes further lines of action. Several domains have been added, including the creation and expansion of equal opportunities in access to higher education, the employment of graduates, and others.