IIE Networker - Fall 2010 - (Page 16)

FOCUS: THE BOLOGNA PROCESS A New Europe: Creating the European Higher Education Area By Hanneke Teekens HIGHER EDUCATION MOVES slowly, and reforms can be very difficult to implement at the system level, and even more so, at the level of individual universities with distinctive institutional cultures. Academia is conservative, especially in Europe, drawing on centuries-old traditions. On top of that, universities everywhere are subject to national legislation, fi nancial restrictions, and some degree of political oversight. University activities may have an international dimension, but these activities are always embedded in local values. In 1999, the overall state of higher education in Europe was one of great complexity, little transparency, and modest attractiveness for outsiders. The policy makers behind the subsequent Bologna declaration wanted another Europe that focused on key concepts: compatibility, comparability, and attractiveness. Another aim was to promote the European system of higher education around the world. The Bologna process of innovation and education reform was, therefore, from the very start a development that reached beyond the borders of a confined geographic or political concept of Europe. Its main objective was to prepare European higher educa- acknowledged that, inevitably, for reforms to succeed, the speed of implementation would need to vary between individual countries (as well as within countries and even between individual institutions). The guiding spirit of the process has always been and remains “unity in diversity,” leaving room for national variation in implementation. This has been one of the greatest strengths of the process. At the same time, this principle has created situations in which national reforms have substantially deviated from the original intentions of the Bologna declaration. This is hardly a surprise, considering that countries as different as Sweden and Georgia are part of the same process. One decade since the Bologna declaration was first signed, a different Europe has indeed emerged in the realm of higher education. At the system level, great progress has been made in most of the 46 signatory countries. National legislation and regulations have created a European Higher Education Area (EHEA) with comparable higher education structures and greatly improved quality assurance. Common recognition and qualification frameworks are currently underway. All Institutional reform and innovation in teaching and learning have not followed structural changes as quickly as originally expected, but the transition process continues, and many interesting initiatives have been set up. Mobility within Europe—one of the main pillars of the Bologna philosophy—has substantially increased. Future Challenges Politicians undoubtedly view the achievements of Bologna differently than university boards, teachers, researchers, and students. To these constituencies, the effects of common and rather broad EHEA strategic aims on teaching and learning at their own institutions may seem vague. How do personal and individual interests and European goals come together? The shortened periods of degree study often elicit complaints. In the past, most first-degree programs on the continent lasted for more than five years, usually leading to a degree that is now comparable to a degree granted at the master’s level. The three-year bachelor’s degree, which became the rule in most countries, is often suspected of being inadequate preparation for students entering the labor market. In order to reach the “old level” that had been considered adequate for a degree, most students at research universities continue with a master’s degree requiring one to two years of additional study. In some countries, for instance, in the Netherlands, there is not always a clear-cut distinction between the two degrees, but instead a gradual transition between study programs. This reduces the incentive for students to seek a second degree at another institution. The introduction of a diploma supplement (DS), which is handed out in twothirds of the EHEA countries and explains the study program and learning outcomes, has not yet convinced all parents, students, and employers to fully accept the new three-year degrees. It will take more time for the new degree structure to earn The guiding spirit of the process has always been and remains “unity in diversity,” leaving room for national variation in implementation. tion for the needs of the 21st century, and to secure a sustainable place for Europe among the world’s most competitive higher education systems. The countries participating in the Bologna process came from very different starting points, facing completely different obstacles in reaching the declaration’s ambitious objectives. Great cultural differences, lack of resources, and variations in governance traditions posed significant challenges. But policy makers 16 countries have adopted two- and threecycle degree systems, with a range of 180-240 European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) credits for the bachelor’s degree and 60-120 ECTS credits for the master’s degree. An academic year consists of 60 ECTS credits. The system must make mobility from one country to another easier and more transparent. The most common length of doctoral degree study is now three to four years.

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