The Bologna Process was launched in 1999, when 29 European Ministers for Higher Education signed the Bologna Declaration. The Process has expanded to include 45 signatory countries. Its aim is the creation of a European Higher Education Area by 2010.
The overarching objectives of this intergovernmental Process are to:
(i) Increase the employability of Europe’s citizens.
(ii) Facilitate student and staff mobility.
(iii) Enhance the attractiveness and competitiveness of European Higher Education in a global market.
The Process is underpinned by ten action lines:
(i) Adoption of a system of easily readable and comparable degrees.
(ii) Adoption of a system based on three cycles (Bachelor, Master and Doctoral levels).
(iii) Establishment of a system of credits.
(iv) Promotion of mobility.
(v) Promotion of European co-operation in quality assurance.
(vi) Promotion of the European dimension in higher education.
(vii) Focus on lifelong learning.
(viii) Inclusion of higher education institutions and students.
(ix) Promotion of the attractiveness of the European Higher Education Area.
(x) Doctoral studies and the synergy between the European Higher Education Area and the European Research Area.
Given the wide-ranging nature of the process, there are a number of key players representing the interests of UK higher education. These include the Government, the UK Higher Education Europe Unit, the Quality Assurance Agency, Universities UK and professional, statutory and regulatory bodies.
The University’s View on the Bologna Process
The University fully supports the Russell Group view that the UK should be engaged in the process, but not at the cost of institutional autonomy, nor international competitiveness. It should be noted that the communiqué on the Process, signed at the London summit of higher education ministers in 2007, underlined the importance of strong institutions, which are diverse, adequately funded, autonomous and accountable.
The Implementation of the Bologna Process Working Group
The University convened a Bologna Working Group in 2007-08 which considered how the University was meeting the Bologna recommendations. The following proposals were made to and approved by the Education Committee:
All integrated Master's programmes will be revised to ensure a minimum of 120 CATS points of Master's level study Queen's International, in collaboration with the Queen's Bologna Promoter, to monitor announcements in relation to the relaunch of European Quality Kitemarks, and bring forward proposals to appropriate Committees
Queen's International, in collaboration with the Bologna Promoter, to monitor developments with regard to the Erasmus Mundus programme, and bring forward recommendations to the Education Committee.
The University will continue to be proactive in recognition of the potential benefits of engaging with the Bologna process, ensuring representation at relevant conferences and events and in response to consultation exercises.
Student and Staff Mobility
In January 2009, the University established the European Activities Co-ordination Working Party. One of the terms of reference of the Working Party is to review the current operation of Erasmus and other EU student/staff exchange schemes to maximise the potential for Queen's participation and the opportunities to develop partnerships with key institutions in Europe, addressing the overarching objective of the Bologna Process on facilitating student and staff mobility.
In 2009 the UK Higher Education Europe Unit and the UK Higher Education International Unit based at Universities UK published research into the effects of European competition on the international student recruitment market. This is a comprehensive piece of research into the growth of European universities in the International arena underpinned by highly developed competitive marketing strategies through collaboration and the growth of teaching provision in English in European universities. The University is currently considering its portfolio of European collaborative arrangements with a view to further strengthening its position in competitive European and International markets.
Compatibility of the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
On 27 February 2009, the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) confirmed that The framework for higher education qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (FHEQ) was compatible with the qualifications framework set up through the Bologna Process - the Framework for qualifications of the European Higher Education Area (FQ-EHEA).
The FQ-EHEA provides a mechanism for relating the qualifications frameworks of different European countries to each other, so helping with the recognition of qualifications from different countries and promoting mobility of learners and graduates across Europe.
Comparability of Degrees: the Diploma Supplement
The Diploma Supplement is a document that describes the qualification students have received in a standard format that is easy to understand and easy to compare. It also describes the content of the qualification and the structure of the higher education system within which it was issued. The University has issued diploma supplements on demand to graduating students of taught programmes since July 2007.
Sources of Information
Universities UK Europe Unite: www.europeunit.ac.uk
The European University Association: www.eua.be
The UK Bologna Secretariat: www.dfes.gov.uk/bologna/
Academic Affairs: www.qub.ac.uk/directorates/AcademicStudentAffairs/AcademicAffairs/
Postgraduate Office: www.qub.ac.uk/home/Research/PostgraduateOffice/
Queen's International: www.qub.ac.uk/ilo/
Russell Group: www.russellgroup.ac.uk
In 2009 Universities UK - Europe Unit conducted a survey of UK sector higher education institutions involved in European higher education policy. The survey was one of three pieces of research undertaken over a 3-year period aimed at producing longitudinal data on relevant issues across the European higher education system. To this end the research would inform future work in raising the UK sector of developments in the Bologna process and broader European education initiatives generally. Furthermore, the work would highlight the UK education sector’s contributions to Bologna and European initiatives whilst featuring aspects of good practice arising from UK sector involvement. The detail and results of both surveys are listed below and accessible from the web link at the bottom of the page.
E-2010-01 Results of the 2009 UK HE Europe Unit survey on UK HEIs engagement in European HE developments
E-2010-02 Results of the 2009 UK HE Europe Unit survey on UK HEIs engagement in European HE developments - HEIs in England and Northern Ireland
Report on Financial Sustainability of Universities
A new report analysing the impact of the economic crisis on higher education in Europe - Financially Sustainable Universities II: European Universities Diversifying Income Sources, has been launched by the European University Association. The two-year project, supported by the European Commission, involved over 150 universities across 27 countries and included site visits and workshops.
The report highlights that the financial sustainability of universities depends on: reliable and sufficient public funding; increased institutional autonomy across Europe; and establishing funding incentives with streamlined rules across the different funding entities. Higher education institutions are encouraged to integrate income diversification into institutional strategy, invest in the development of human capital to improve income diversification, incentivise faculties and staff to proactively engage in income diversification, and develop professional stakeholder management.
The report can be accessed from: http://www.eua.be/news/11-02-24/EUA_launches_major_new_report_on_financial_sustainability_of_European_universities.aspx
Europe 2020 Strategy
The Europe 2020 Strategy, the successor to the Lisbon Treaty, is a policy initiative launched by the European Commission in March 2010 aimed at consolidating areas of European Union competence and growth of the economy over the next decade. Strategic priorities will concentrate on three key themes:
(i) Smart growth: through development of knowledge, innovation and education;
(ii) Sustainable growth: focused on resource efficiencies and a competitive economy;
(iii) Inclusive growth: aimed at raising labour market participation, fighting poverty, and strengthening social and territorial cohesion.
The report can be accessed from:
Europe through Students’ Eyes: Students’ Expectations on European Higher Education
The 6th UNICA Student Conference, which took place in Rome in September 2010, was attended by 250 students from 43 universities from European capital cities. A number of recommendations with relevance to the higher education reform agenda emerged from the conference, with focus in the following areas:
(i) Resolution of the persisting mobility obstacles of unfair allocation of finance and grants and poor information provided on the opportunities and benefits of mobility;
(ii) Increased mobility and adequate preparation of students for their role in a multicultural and global society by addressing the restrictions imposed by curricula, such as difficulties in recognition, or the lack of education in widely spoken languages and in particular English;
(iii) Development of an on-line European academic network to promote cooperation and exchange between students, researchers and staff and that countries work closely to achieve a coordinated Europe-wide strategy for mobility;
(iv) Provision of sufficient and responsible public funding to support high quality universities;
(v) Enhanced degree programmes with labour market relevance, incorporating transferrable skills other than academic related, and including student co-curricular activities on awarded degrees;
(vi) Provision of clear and understandable institutional reports through an independent quality assurance agency with strong student representation, as university rankings are not adequate in helping students choose a university.
The report can be accessed from:
World Innovation Summit for Education
The World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), which ran over three days in December 2010, covered a diverse range of innovations, experiences and emerging new ideas from around the globe, aimed at advancing international dialogue in education. Proposals were brought forward for realistic and effective solutions, from funding to curricula, from conflict and reconciliation to new skills, and from assessment to improvement of the quality of education.
The summit concluded with agreement to develop the following:
(i) The establishment of the WISE Prize for Education for individuals making an outstanding contribution to any field or level of education - the winner receiving an award of $500,000;
(ii) The launch of a WISE publication and web portal for recording achievements and initiatives in global educational issues that would house in-depth information with a web platform for discussion forums;
(iii) A call for the establishment of a taskforce dedicated to education system rebuilding in Haiti and for the global community to unite and assist with this.
The report can be accessed from:
1 June 2011