From Paris to Rome: Work under the new Bologna round has been commenced

In June, the SPHERE Team reported about the success of the Bologna Ministerial Conference in May in Paris, and the ambitious Communiqué that has been adopted.

As the celebrations are over, and with the next Ministerial Conference scheduled for 2020 in Rome, there is little time to fulfil commitments made in the Paris Communiqué. So what is happening now in the Bologna Process?

In June, the new chairmanship of the Process has started its work: Italy holds the position of the Vice-chair for the entire period. The process is generally driven by ‘co-chairs’, which come, traditionally, from the EU Member State which currently holds the EU Presidency, together with a non-EU country. This is currently Austria and Switzerland (June- Dec. 2018), and will be followed by Romania and FYROM (Jan.-June 2019).  Together, the co-chairs prepare meetings and coordinate the work of the Bologna Process.

They are supported by the Bologna Secretariat, which is always provided by the country which will host the next Ministerial conference. Therefore, the Secretariat has been transferred from France to Italy in June of this year.

In same period, two of the Bologna Process working groups started their activity, to continue with work that has already been done before the Ministerial Conference and in order to plan the next phase. Some decisions have already been made on the workplan for 2018-2020.

The Monitoring Working Group would continue its work to prepare the 2020 Bologna Process Implementation Report, which will focus on long-term developments within the EHEA, i.e. main achievements since the start of the Bologna Process and what is still to be accomplished.

As some countries still face difficulties in implementing agreed reforms, it had been decided to launch a series of Thematic Peer-learning Groups (TPG) on so-called “key commitments”, i.e. recognition, quality assurance (QA) and qualifications frameworks (QF)/ degree systems. To facilitate and coordinate this work, a Bologna Implementation Coordination Group (BICG) has been established. Countries are expected to meet and exchange on good practice and implementation obstacles.

The TPGs have been launched at the Bologna Follow-up Group Meeting (Vienna, 25-26 Sept.), which also discussed and decided on other workplan matter:

An Advisory Group on the Social Dimension is expected to develop guidelines for the Social Dimension, and also to follow up on the 2015 commitment of countries to develop national strategies by 2020.

A Coordination Group on Global Policy Dialogue will continue to organize international exchanges with other world regions and the prepare the 2020 Bologna Policy Forum in Rome (back-to-back with the Ministerial meeting).

As in the past, an EHEA Network of National Coordinators for Qualifications Frameworks, led by the Council of Europe, will convene. One topical issue for this group is the short cycle, which has now been integrated into national qualification frameworks for higher education. As in the past, the network also exchanges with the EQF (European Qualifications Framework of the EU – for lifelong learning) advisory group.

As Belarus has yet to fulfil some of the commitments of its Road map it signed up to in 2015, when becoming a member of the Bologna Process. It had therefore proposed a strategy for 2018-2020 and will submit regular progress reports.

Learning and Teaching had a strong emphasis in the Paris Communique. However, at the Vienna BFUG meeting, no decision has been made on how concretely the Bologna Process would support this. There will likely to be an Advisory Group on Learning & Teaching, but its exact tasks are still to be determined.

In the coming months, the BFUG will also start to discuss how enhance the links between the European Research Area and the EHEA, and also goals and governance of the process beyond 2020.

As in the past, documents for BFUG, the Bologna Board, and workings groups are usually published on the EHEA website.

The next BFUG will take place in April 2019, in Bucharest.