Bologna Process

Bologna Process
                Sarbonne Declaration
                Bologna Declaration
                Prague Communiqué
                Berlin Communiqué
List of Universities



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What is it all about? 
What is Bologna Process?

With the simplest definition, it’s a Bologna  Process aims to create the European higher education area by harmonising academic degree standards and quality assurance standards throughout Europe for each faculty and its development by the end of 2010.

The objectives are the introduction of undergraduate and postgraduate levels in all countries, with first degrees no shorter than 3 years; a European Credit Transfer System; the elimination of remaining obstacles to the mobility of students and teachers.

The name comes because the process was proposed at the University of Bologna  with the signing, in 1999, of the Bologna declaration by ministers of education from 29 European countries in the Italian city of Bologna. This was opened up to other countries, and further governmental meetings have been held in Prague (2001), Berlin (2003) and Bergen (2005); the next meeting will take place in London in Autumn 2007.

 General Information and Background

In May 1998 the ministers in charge of higher education of France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Germany signed the so-called Sorbonne Declaration on the ”harmonisation of the architecture of the European Higher Education System” at the Sorbonne University in Paris. Other European countries later subscribed to the Declaration. 

The Sorbonne Declaration focused on;

  • -a progressive convergence of the overall framework of degrees and cycles in an open European area for higher education

  • -a common degree level system for undergraduates (Bachelor's degree) and graduates (Master's and doctoral degree)

  • -enhancing and facilitating student and teacher mobility (students should spend at least one semester abroad); removing obstacles for mobility and improving recognition of degrees and academic qualifications.

  • (Bologna 1999) In June 1999, 29 European ministers in charge of higher education met in Bologna to lay the basis for establishing a European Higher Education Area by 2010 and promoting the European system of higher education world-wide. In the Bologna Declaration, the ministers affirmed their intention to:


    • -adopt a system of easily readable and comparable degrees

    • -adopt a system with two main cycles (undergraduate/graduate)

    •  -establish a system of credits (such as ECTS)

    • -promote mobility by overcoming obstacles

    • -promote European co-operation in quality assurance

    • -promote European dimensions in higher education

     Convinced that the establishment of the European Higher Education Area would require constant support, supervision and adaptation to continuously evolving needs, the ministers decided to meet again in two years time.

    (Prague 2001)As it was planned ,two years after the Bologna Declaration, the ministers in charge of higher education of 33 European signatory countries met in Prague in May 2001 to follow up the Bologna Process and to set directions and priorities for the following years.

    In the Prague Communiqué the ministers;


    • -reaffirmed their commitment to the objectives of the Bologna Declaration

    • -appreciated the active involvement of the European University Association (EUA) and the National Unions of Students in Europe (ESIB)

    • -took note of the constructive assistance of the European Commission

    • -made comments on the further process with regard to the different objectives of the Bologna Declaration

    • -emphasised as important elements of the European Higher Education Area:


      • *lifelong learning

      • *involvement of students

      • *enhancing the attractiveness and competiveness of the European Higher Education Area to other parts of the world (including the aspect of transnational education)

    The ministers decided that the next follow-up meeting of the Bologna Process should take place in 2003 in Berlin to review progress and to set directions and priorities for the next stages of the process towards the European Higher Education Area.

     (Berlin 2003) When ministers met again in Berlin in September 2003, they defined three intermediate priorities for the next two years: quality assurance, the two-cycle degree system and recognition of degrees and periods of studies. In the Berlin Communiqué , specific goals were set for each of these action lines.  

    Quality assurance

    Ministers stressed the need to develop mutually shared criteria and methodologies and agreed that by 2005 national quality assurance systems should include:

    • A definition of the responsibilities of the bodies and institutions involved

    • Evaluation of programmes or institutions, including internal assessment, external review, participation of students and the publication of results

    • A system of accreditation, certification or comparable procedures, international participation, co-operation and networking

    The two-cycle system

    Ministers asked for the development of an overarching framework of qualifications for the European Higher Education Area. Within such frameworks, degrees should have different defined outcomes. First and second cycle degrees should have different orientations and various profiles in order to accommodate a diversity of individual, academic and labour market needs.

    Recognition of degrees and periods of studies

    Ministers underlined the importance of the Lisbon Recognition Convention, which should be ratified by all countries participating in the Bologna Process. Every student graduating as from 2005 should receive the Diploma Supplement automatically and free of charge. 

    The third cycle

    Ministers also considered it necessary to go beyond the present focus on two main cycles of higher education to include the doctoral level as the third cycle in the Bologna Process and to promote closer links between the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and the European Research Area (ERA). 

    This added a tenth action line to the Bologna Process:

    Doctoral studies and the synergy between EHEA and ERA. 

    Ministers charged the Follow-up Group with organising a stocktaking process in time for their summit in 2005 and undertaking to prepare detailed reports on the progress and implementation of the intermediate priorities set for the period.


    The basic framework adopted is of three levels test of higher education qualification: bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees. In most cases, these will take 3, 2, and 3 years respectively to complete, but the framework is moving to defining qualifications in terms of learning outcomes and the length in years is in no way set in stone.

    These levels are closer to the current model in the UK, Ireland (as well as the US) than that in most of Continental Europe, where the model often is based on the magister or diploma. In any case, programme length tends to vary from country to country, and less often between institutions within a country