IIE Networker - Fall 2010 - (Page 14)

FOCUS: THE BOLOGNA PROCESS The Bologna Process and Its Global Impact THE BOLOGNA PROCESS, begun in 1999 when 29 countries signed on to the Bologna Declaration, launched an initiative whose main goals were to create transparency across the patchwork of European higher education systems and to make the continent’s higher education institutions more attractive to the world. In the initial years the Bologna Process’ potential global dimensions faded from discussion as policy makers and practioners focused on designing and implementing frameworks and the impact on mobility within Europe. More than a decade after the Bologna Declaration, the framework for a “European Higher Education Area” has significantly evolved, and internationalization plans for Europe as a whole are once again moving to the center of the policy debate. As higher education institutions and systems increasingly compete on a global playing field, Bologna and the complex changes it has advanced deserve a fresh look. The following special section offers three European perspectives on the process and the years ahead. Ten Years On: Bologna’s Global Dimension and Its Limits at Home By Bernd Wächter IN MARCH 2010, Europe celebrated 10 years of collaboration on the Bologna Process in Vienna and Budapest—somewhat odd timing, since the celebration came almost exactly 11 years after European ministers of education from 31 countries signed the famous declaration. They had reason to be satisfied. The European Higher Education Area (EHEA) they envisioned in 1999 is now largely a reality. Structural reforms have been implemented almost everywhere (though not always with the desired effects), especially in the countries that have been on board from the start. This is far more than could have been expected of an entirely voluntary intergovernmental accord, considering that noncompliance carries no penalties. The success of the EHEA does not stop at its borders. Many non-European countries around the world are eager to join the EHEA, or at least to be recognized as “official partners.” Bologna has sent ripples around the world. education policies of European governments. The pre-Bologna mantra had been to emphasize the diversity of system features and maintain a strict ban on any system harmonization in Europe. Governments believed (or, at any rate, pretended to believe) the incomparability of degrees and study programs in Europe were distinct sources of strength for the continent. In 1999 in Bologna, they changed course radically, pinning their future hopes to identical, or at least comparable and compatible, system structures. How could this happen? This author believes “Bologna” had two essential drivers. The first of these does not (quite) explain the change in itself. The second one completes the picture and has to do with shifts in the global politics of higher education that first became apparent in the 1990s. The first motivation for a change in policy was largely domestic (i.e., European). The aim was to enhance the degree of The Bologna accord marked, in political terms, a radical reorientation of the higher education policies of European governments. The Global Roots of Bologna The Bologna accord marked, in political terms, a radical reorientation of the higher 14 integration of European higher education, to make it easier for students to move between systems. From this perspective, Bologna was the logical continuation of earlier joint European cooperation efforts, especially in the framework of the Erasmus program. Large-scale student exchanges between European countries had already laid bare the problems that system differences entailed, for example the existence of credit systems in some countries but not in others, which made recognition of study abroad a challenge. But such standardization problems could also have been attacked in the traditional European way, in the form of “conversion systems.” They would not necessarily have required the introduction of identical or compatible system features, such as unified degree architecture. The second motivation to agree on establishment of the EHEA had its roots in the globalization of higher education. In the 1990s, higher education ceased to be a purely national domain—or even a continental one. A global competition over international students (as well as over faculty and, a bit later, research funds) had set in. Under these new conditions, the European patchwork of degree structures, for example, was no longer tenable. NonEuropeans would not understand it. The old structures were, in the words of the Bologna declaration, not “readable,” and international students, therefore, would not come to study in Europe. Thus, Europeans felt a need to introduce key system traits that were both internationally known and

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Networker - Fall 2010

IIE Networker - Fall 2010
Message from Allan E. Goodman
IIENetworker University Presidents Interview Series
Ten Years On: Bologna’s Global Dimension and Its Limits at Home
A New Europe: Creating the European Higher Education Area
What’s New in Brussels? Visions for the EU and the European Higher Education Area
Trends in English-Taught Master’s Programs in Europe
Promoting Higher Education in Spain: The Creation of the Universidad.es Foundation
The Joint European/International Doctorate: A Strategic Tool to Enhance Worldwide Institutional Collaboration
More Europeans Seek Undergraduate Degrees in the United States
European Schools in America, American Schools in Europe: Outposts Along the Path to the Global University
Out of the Office and Into the World: A Personal Perspective on the Fulbright International Education Administrators Program
Applying European Approaches to U.S. Higher Education
Advertisers’ Index
IIE Program Profile: IIE in Europe

IIE Networker - Fall 2010