Tag: European Higher Education Area (EHEA)

Guest blogger: The Bologna Process and its withering political salience

Jens Jungblut (UiO), Martina Vukasovic (UGent), Mari Elken (NIFU)

Jens Jungblut (UiO), Martina Vukasovic (UGent), Mari Elken (NIFU)

In this post, Jens Jungblut, Martina Vukasovic and Mari Elken examine the developments in the Bologna Process. In particular, focus is on the participation at the ministerial conferences and what these can tell us about the state of the Bologna Process.

Jens Jungblut works at the University of Oslo as a researcher and is a member of the ExCID research group, Martina Vukasovic is a post-doctoral researcher at CHEGG in Ghent University and Mari Elken is a researcher at NIFU. 

The ninth and latest ministerial conference of the Bologna Process earlier this year in Yerevan was one of these events where the European higher education community likes to celebrate itself for all of its achievements during the last 17 years of close policy coordination. This positive assessment was shared by most of the press reports that followed the meeting. Anne Corbett, for example, reported in the Times Higher Education that contrary to the “conventional wisdom” that the Bologna Process is no longer of interest for ministers and is left to technocrats and stakeholder organizations, the meeting in Yerevan was characterized by deft ministerial diplomacy, especially with regard to the admission of Belarus into the process.

This optimistic evaluation of the ministerial conference in specific and the political salience of the Bologna Process in general is somewhat contradicted by some of the reports that the different stakeholder organizations presented in Yerevan. While EUA’s TRENDS 2015 report  diplomatically highlights a growing importance of national policy-making in comparison to European-wide initiatives, ESU’s Bologna With Student Eyes 2015  openly warns about a growing lack of interest on the side of the national governments in the European Higher Education Area.

News: The latest Bologna Process communique adopted in Yerevan last week

bolognaLast week, on May 14-15th of 2015 the latest Bologna Process Ministerial Conference and Bologna Policy forum was held in Yerevan, Armenia. The participants of the process met at the event, amongst else to agree upon the most recent communique that sets the agenda for the coming years, and approve new members. At the meeting, Belarus was approved as a member. The approval of Belarus was anticipated, and has been linked to recent geopolitical developments, despite frequent concerns regarding academic freedom in the country.

The 2015 Yerevan conference also marked a shift in main focus. While in 2012 in Bucharest the main topics were the “F-word” (funding) and automatic recognition, there were other themes that were in focus in Yerevan has slowly shifted closer to the core of higher education enterprise – teaching and learning. The Bologna process has arguably had more focus on the structural aspects of higher education systems this far, so one can argue that this shift is a change. One could argue that this is necessary to also create new enthusiasm for the process.

The Yerevan Communique that was adopted highlights  four key priorities, where the quality and relevance of teaching and learning is now set as the “main mission of the EHEA”. In addition to quality, the other two points concern employability and inclusiveness – illustrating how the values in the process have a dual attention on social cohesion while promoting the interests of the labour market as well. While teaching and learning have been put to the forefront, structural reforms remain one of the four key objectives, where degree structure, credits system, quality assurance standards and guidelines, as well as various cooperation in mobility and joint degrees are highlighted as the “foundations of the EHEA”.

In this context, the BFUG has received a task to review and simplify its governance structures. A number of policy measures were also adopted, amongst else the revised version of ESG (European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area), the European Approach for Quality Assurance in Joint Programmes as well as the revised ECTS users guide. It should also be noted that during the conference, a call was made to have more precise instruments to measure implementation.

Call for contributions: Conference on the social dimension of higher education

pl4sdPL4SD and EUROSTUDENT are jointly organizing the conference “The Social Dimension in European Higher Education”. The conference takes place on February 25-27, 2015 at the Vienna University of Economics and Business in Austria.

The main aim of the conference is to create a forum for exchange of experiences and knowledge. PL4SD stands for Peer Learning for the Social Dimension and it is a three year European Commission funded project. The conference includes the following:

  1. Presentation of Eurostudent V results – Data on the social and economic situation of students in the EHEA
  2. Presentation of PL4SD results
  3. Recent research on the social dimension in HE
  4. Exchange of knowledge and experiences

The organizers have issued a call for contributions, including call for actions, sharing of policy as well as scientific papers. The organizers have specified in the call that: “contributions of empirical research dealing with the social dimension of HE in Europe are highly welcome. Analyses of national situations (with reference to a broader context) as well as international comparisons or views from a transnational perspective can be submitted. Following the approach of the conference, papers with attempts to embed empirical evidence in a broader context of policy and/or action are explicitly welcome.Deadline for proposals – October 1st.

More information can be found at the Call for Contributions Document (pdf.).

View the conference website. 

In Focus: A government and stakeholder informal meeting – EQAR’s Third Members’ Dialogue

Melinda Szabo

Melinda Szabo (EQAR)

This guest entry is written by Melinda Szabo who works at the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education as a Project Officer since March 2013.  Melinda studied at the Babes-Bolyai University in Romania, and has a Master Degree in Educational Management from the institution. Before joining EQAR, Melinda worked in the Directorate General for Presidency in the European Parliament (2012-2013) and in the Bologna Follow-Up Group Secretariat (2010-2012). Her professional experience also includes work carried out as a Quality Assurance Officer at the Centre for Quality Assurance at the Babes-Bolyai University (2008-2010) and as a student expert for national (ARACIS evaluations) and international quality assurance reviews (Institutional Evaluation Programme student expert pool).

On 17-18 October 2013, hosted by the Flemish Department of Education and Science in Ghent, the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR) has organised the third edition of its Members’ Dialogue. Referring to its recent establishment [founded by the E4 Group in 2008], EQAR has been described as a jigsaw piece of a vision that cannot be realised in one go. The ‘Dialogue’ serve as a unique opportunity for EQAR to evolve and mature by creating the context for those involved in its governance, management and operation to discuss jointly and in a more informal atmosphere than in official meetings the policy development in quality assurance related to EQAR’s strategic priorities.

This edition of the Members’ Dialogue responds to the strategic goals and activities set out in the EQAR Strategic Plan 2013 – 2017 on international trust, recognition and transparency of information for quality assurance registered agencies. The format of the event included a plenary session, a Knowledge Café and three parallel session for the 50 participants attending the event.

Do you know an excellent teacher in higher education?

If you think about your learning experiences, which teachers in higher education made the biggest positive impact on your learning? Who stood out as a truly excellent teacher in higher education?

CEUCentral European University (CEU) has announced the third annual European Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Social Sciences and Humanities. The award was introduced in 2011 to highlight excellent teaching in higher education institutions in the European Higher Education Area.

The candidates are expected to have an outstanding teaching record and the call highlights that they must have experience with one or more of these practices:

  • applying innovative teaching methods;
  • combining theory and practice, relevance and scholarly excellence;
  • using research elements to achieve excellence in teaching;
  • applying problem-based/problem-oriented teaching;
  • achievements in encouragement of critical thinking;
  • sustained commitment to teaching excellence, rather than one-off achievements.

Eligibility: the candidate must work in social sciences or humanities and work in a higher education institution in the European Higher Education Area, excluding CEUs own staff.

Deadline for proposals: January 20th, 2014.

Do you know of a teacher who you think would be worthy of this award? 

Read more about the application criteria and procedures at CEU website.