The Bologna Process aims to create a European Higher Education Area by 2010, in which students can choose from a wide and transparent range of high quality courses and benefit from smooth recognition procedures. The Bologna Declaration of June 1999 has put in motion a series of reforms needed to make European Higher Education more compatible and comparable, more competitive and more attractive for Europeans and for students and scholars from other continents. Reform was needed then and reform is still needed today if Europe is to match the performance of the best performing systems in the world, notably the United States and Asia.
The three priorities of the Bologna process are: Introduction of the three cycle system (bachelor/master/doctorate), quality assurance and recognition of qualifications and periods of study.
Every second year the Ministers meet to measure progress and set priorities for action. After Bologna (1999), they met in Prague(2001), Berlin (2003) and Bergen (2005). They met again in London (17/18 May 2007) and in reconvene Leuven/Louvain-La-Neuve (April 2009). At the London meeting of 17/18 May Ministers adopted a strategy on how to reach out to other continents. They also gave the green light to create a Register of European Quality Assurance Agencies. See for more information the Bologna Secretariat Website.
All across Europe, countries and universities are engaged in a process of modernisation. From an EU perspective, these reforms are part of the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs, which also encompasses reinforced cooperation in vocational education and training(Copenhagen Process). To establish synergies between Copenhagen and Bologna, the Commission has brought forward its proposal for the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning (EQF). This is linked to and supported by other initiatives in the fields of transparency of qualifications (EUROPASS), credit transfer (ECTS –ECVET) and quality assurance (ENQA –ENQAVET). Of similar importance is the link between the European Higher Education Area and the European Research Area (EHEA and ERA).
The European Commission aims to support these efforts with the help of programmes like Erasmus, Tempus in respect of neighbouring countries, and more globally through Erasmus Mundus. The Commission also works to support the modernisation agenda through the implementation of the 7th EU Framework Programme for Research and the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme, as well as theStructural Funds and the European Investment Bank.
The Commission contributed to the Bologna Stocktaking exercise through the contributions of the Eurydice network, which produced country analyses as well as comparative overviews. In May 2007, the Commission pubmished a special Eurobarometer Survey , which shows strong and encouraging support for modernisation among teaching professionals in higher education.