Bologna Process: From Paris to Rome – continued

Last December, the SPHERE Team reported that the follow-up work on the commitments of the Paris Communiqué had commenced, the result of the successful Bologna Process Ministerial Conference in Paris. The new phase of Bologna began with a range of new working groups and new ways of working.

Where does this stand now and what is going to happen next?

Italy, the host of the next Ministerial Conference in June 2020 in Rome, currently provides the Bologna Process Secretariat and also holds the Vice-chairmanship. Every half a year, the EU Member State which holds the EU Presidency, together with a non-EU country, provide the co-chairs, rotationally. The vice and co-chairs prepare and chair the Bologna Follow-up Group Meetings (BFUG) and Bologna Process Board meetings, which usually take place in the countries of the co-chairs:

  • Austria and Switzerland (June- Dec. 2018)

  • Romania and FYROM (Jan.-June 2019)

  • Finland and Turkey (June- Dec. 2019)

  • Croatia and Ukraine (Jan.-June 2020)

(Just to recall: the BFUG bring together 48 governmental parties, including the European Commission, plus the consultative members - European stakeholder organisations for higher education institutions, students, staff etc.; the Bologna Board is a smaller group that prepares the BFUG meetings).

The last Board meeting took place on 12 February in Skopje, exactly on the date when it became the Republic of Northern Macedonia. The BFUG meeting took place in Bucharest, Romania, on 4-5 April 2019. It discussed progress made so far by the different working groups: Most groups had had two or three meetings and could report on processes rather than results. Many of the HERE Partner countries participating in the Bologna Process contribute to one or several of the working groups.
 
Some of points that might be of interest are:
  • Three Thematic Peer Learning Groups have been established, which are also co-chaired by HERE Partner countries: quality assurance (Georgia), qualifications frameworks (Kazakhstan) and recognition (Albania), These groups support implementation of Bologna reforms by matching individual countries which face difficulties with countries which are a bit more advanced. The meetings are attended by representatives from the ministries, but often also from QA agencies, higher education institutions etc. Apparently, they have a good dynamic. Under a special ‘Bologna Call’, the European Commission is providing funding for projects related to these and other thematic priorities.

  • For the first time ever, there is an Advisory Group (AG2) on Learning and Teaching. It is tasked to develop “Principles for Governments” on learning and teaching. In the course of two meetings, the group shared examples and case studies from higher education institutions and systems across Europe.

  • The Monitoring Working Group continues, which currently prepares the 2020 Bologna Implementation Report. Whereas previous reports gave an overview on the past three years, the 2020 report will assess the achievements of the Bologna Process since is beginnings 20 years ago.

  • As part of the Monitoring Working Group, a Task Force on monitoring academic values has been established, to define indicators and methods on issues such as academic freedom and participation of staff and students. This should enable reporting on this area from 2020 on.

  • The BFUG in Bucharest also initiated a discussion on the future of the Bologna Process beyond 2020: While no formal decision has been taken, there seems to be wide agreement that the work must continue after 2020. Therefore, a discussion was had on determining new goals, beyond 2020, as well as a reflection on what this would require in terms of governance, management and resources. 

All these issues are expected to make the agenda at the next Bologna Board meeting (Istanbul, Turkey, 24 September), and in particular the next BFUG meeting (Helsinki, Finland, 12-13 November).  With less than a year to go until the Ministerial Conference, these issues also present a first sketch of the Rome Communiqué.

In addition, a Bologna Process 20 Anniversary conference is being held on 24-25 June in Bologna, and some of the working groups will meet back to back. In addition to the insights that this conference might bring on values, the event clearly demonstrates the interest that the Process triggers: around 900 participants are expected. 

Documents on most of the issues mentioned and the calendar of EHEA can be found at ehea.info