Bologna process: studying in the european higher education area

Main building of the Technical University of Munich

Internationalization, demographic changes, economic structural change and the development of new technologies are the major challenges of the future. In securing economic success and prosperity, science and teaching have a key role to play as drivers of innovation. Science is international. Knowledge knows no borders.

In order for European countries to survive in global competition, they must bundle existing competencies and cooperate more closely in the education sector.

In the sog. Based on the "Bologna Declaration" of 1999, 47 European countries have now joined together in a common European Higher Education Area as part of the Bologna Process.

  • Intensification of the exchange in research and teaching through high quality of training and the compatibility of offers
  • Optimal professional preparation of students for the requirements of science and business
  • Provision of key qualifications such as willingness to change, intercultural competence, foreign language skills, social competence and the ability to engage in lifelong learning
  • Intensifying cooperation between higher education and research institutions to increase the attractiveness of education and research in Europe


Conference in Yerevan on 14. and 15. May 2015

On 14. and 15. The ministers responsible for higher education from the 48 countries of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) met in Yerevan, Armenia, on May 1, 2015. The conference had agreed on the work priorities for the further development of a common European Higher Education Area in the coming years.

Key points of the Yerevan Communiqué jointly adopted during the two-day conference include expanding student-centeredness of teaching, creating flexible and transparent learning pathways, and promoting higher education that strengthens graduates' employability in rapidly changing labor markets. Another demand relates to more inclusion at universities as well as more mobility especially of student teachers. In addition, the communiqué contains an appeal to make greater use of the possibilities of digital teaching and learning.

Conference in Bucharest on 26. and 27. April 2012

On 26. and 27. April 2012 Ministers responsible for higher education from the 47 countries of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) met in Bucharest, Romania. The Bucharest Communiqué reaffirmed the central role of higher education as an investment for the future in overcoming the current financial and economic crisis and pledged the greatest possible support to universities in order to create the conditions for economic growth and sustainable development of democracies in the EHEA and to counteract youth unemployment by training highly qualified young people.

During the conference, participants reviewed what has been achieved so far in the Bologna Process, highlighting broader participation in higher education, improved cross-border recognition of university degrees, and increased compatibility and comparability of European higher education structures.

In addition, the Bucharest Communiqué defined the main objectives for the coming years, namely broader universal access to quality higher education, improving employability for graduates throughout their working lives in line with demand, and further strengthening mobility for better learning. Priorities identified for activities through 2015 include the following:

  • Create frameworks that engage the student as an active participant in education
  • Give greater consideration to employability, lifelong learning, problem solving, and entrepreneurial skills in educational offerings
  • Ensure that qualification frameworks, ECTS and Diploma Supplement are based on learning outcomes
  • Implement the recommendations of the mobility strategy, according to which 20% of all students/graduates should have been mobile in the context of their university studies by 2020
  • Monitoring the implementation of the Bologna Process by Eurostat, Eurydice and Eurostudent
  • Promote the study of the possibilities of automatic academic recognition of comparable degrees
  • Examine national laws and practices regarding joint degree programs and degrees as a possible way to reduce barriers to cooperation and mobility
  • Evaluate the implementation of the strategy for the EHEA in a global context

Bologna anniversary conference in Vienna/Budapest on 11. and 12. March 2010

To inaugurate the European Higher Education Area envisioned in the 1999 Bologna Declaration, a meeting was held on 11. and 12. March 2010 the participating states in the capitals of Austria and Hungary. Kazakhstan has been identified as 47. Member state included in the European Higher Education Area.

The ministers responsible for higher education acknowledged in the Budapest and Vienna declarations the steps taken in the past decade towards the establishment of the Common European Higher Education Area. They reaffirmed their commitment to the agenda and objectives set out in the Leuven / Louvain-la-Neuve Communiqué.

Picking up on the recent protests in some participating countries, the participating states again made clear that further adjustment steps are needed to fully implement the goals of the Bologna reform. The Bologna Follow-up Group was entrusted with the development of concrete measures.

Ministers pledged to ensure that higher education institutions have the funding they need, regardless of the difficult economic climate. In particular, efforts on the social dimension should be intensified to provide equal access to higher education. Acknowledging the contributions already made by all stakeholders, the participating States urged all stakeholders to continue to facilitate an inspiring working and learning environment, and in particular to promote student-centered learning.

Leuven/Louvain-la-Neuve Conference on 28. and 29. April 2009

With the Leuven Communiqué, the 46 participating countries acknowledged the need to continue the Bologna Process in a common European Higher Education Area beyond 2010, in view of the structural challenges of the future (globalization, technological developments and demographic trends) and the current world economic crisis.

For the next decade through 2020, there will be a re-sharpening of goals and an intensification of efforts, particularly on the following items:

  • Social dimension: development of adequate scholarship concepts and involvement of other educational sectors to increase participation in academic education
  • Lifelong learning: expanding part-time study programs; developing clear, competency-based recognition procedures and implementing interlocking national qualifications frameworks to increase transparency
  • Employability: Strengthening the labor market orientation of degree programs and improving in-service training opportunities
  • Studyability: revise study concepts; student-centered teaching and learning
  • Quality improvement: Consistent implementation of the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance
  • Research and innovation: improving attractiveness, expanding interdisciplinary approaches
  • Mobility as a central goal: By 2020, at least 20% of university graduates should have completed an internship or a study phase abroad. To this end: expansion of study structures that promote mobility (mobility windows, joint degrees); improvement of the framework conditions for students and teachers
  • Expansion of cooperation with partners outside the European Higher Education Area
  • Development of transparency tools
  • Improve the data base for measuring achievement of goals

Communiqué from London on 17. and 18. May 2007

A focus of the 4. Bologna follow-up conference in London, now with 46 participating countries, was a comprehensive stocktaking on progress in implementing the priority Bologna goals of quality assurance, tripartite degree structure and recognition issues.
Participating States agreed in the London Communiqué on further measures to realize the European Higher Education Area by 2010. The focus was on mobility, quality assurance and employability.

The following concrete steps were agreed upon:

  • Monitoring of progress and possible obstacles with regard to the mobility of students, scientists and teachers
  • Expansion of the offer of joint degrees (joint study programs with foreign universities leading to a uniform degree)
  • Efforts to ensure the portability of scholarships and loans for study abroad within the Bologna states
  • Establish a European register of accreditation agencies that assess the quality of studies and teaching according to comparable high standards
  • Greater consideration of employability in the design of training programs at all three levels of the study structure
  • Improved external perception of the Bologna Process through more intensive exchange with non-European countries on the goals and developments of the European Higher Education Area

Faced with the challenges of globalization, a continuation of Bologna cooperation after 2010 – d. h. also after the aspired completion of a European Higher Education Area – agreed upon.

Communiqué from Bergen on 19. and 20. May 2005

In the Bergen Communiqué, the conference of now 45 participating states gave a positive assessment of the implementation of the reform goals to date.

Efforts have been focused on the following areas:

  • Establishment of common standards for quality assurance
  • Development of national qualification frameworks
  • Expansion of cooperation in the field of research through more structured doctoral programs
  • Greater consideration of social conditions for students
  • More intensive exchange of goals and experiences of the Bologna Process with other world regions.

Berlin Communiqué of 19. September 2003

In the Berlin Communiqué, meanwhile, 40 participating states agreed to concretize and expand the previous catalog of measures with the following elements:

  • Definition of a framework of comparable and compatible higher education degrees at national and European level (qualification framework)
  • Inclusion of doctoral education in the Bologna Process (European Research Area)

In order to achieve the goals of the Bologna Process by 2010, the following key issues have been agreed upon:

  • Two-tier study system
  • Recognition of degrees and stages of studies
  • Quality assurance

Prague Communiqué of 19. May 2001

In Prague, the circle of participants expanded to 33 states. The previous goals and measures were confirmed and supplemented in the Prague Communiqué. The following new elements were highlighted:

  • Lifelong learning
  • Participation of students in shaping the European Higher Education Area
  • Attractiveness of the European Higher Education Area

Bologna Declaration of 19.06.1999

The concerns of the Sorbonne Declaration have been welcomed in a large number of European countries. As early as June 1999, at a conference in Bologna, the education ministers of 29 European countries signed the so-called. Bologna Declaration.


  • Creation of a common European Higher Education Area by 2010
  • Introduction of a system of easily understandable and comparable degrees
  • Establish a two-tier system of degrees that builds on each other:
  • Undergraduate studies (at least three years): Degree is a qualification relevant to the European labor market
  • Graduate studies: the final degree is the master's degree and/or the doctoral degree
  • Introduction of a credit point system, similar to ECTS
  • Inclusion and crediting of achievements in the area of "lifelong learning
  • Promoting mobility (through access to study and training opportunities; through recognition and crediting of periods spent abroad for research, teaching or training purposes for students, teachers, researchers and administrative staff)
  • Expanding European cooperation in quality assurance
  • Strengthening the European dimensions in higher education (in curriculum development, cooperation between universities, mobility projects and integrated study, training and research programs)

In order to check whether the agreed steps have been implemented, it was agreed to take stock of the progress made every two years at follow-up conferences and to discuss next goals.

Sorbonne Declaration of 25. May 1998

The ministers of education of Germany, France, Italy and Great Britain signed in Paris the so-called. Sorbonne Declaration. It was born out of the recognition that Europe is facing major economic and social challenges and that education, especially at the university level, has a key role to play in the future. Therefore, this declaration postulated an increased cooperation in the field of higher education.


  • Approximation of the general framework for study programs and degrees in an open European Higher Education Area
  • Two-tier system for degrees (undergraduate/graduate degrees)
  • Greater student and faculty mobility (at least one semester abroad)
  • Better recognition of academic degrees and achievements.

The next ministerial conference will take place in France in 2018.

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