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Consolidating the European Higher Education Area Print

In the Bologna declaration of 1999, European ministers with responsibility for higher education initiated the Bologna Process by setting out the goal of establishing the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) by 2010. After a decade of reforms, at their Leuven/Louvain-la-Neuve summit in April 2009, ministers reaffirmed their commitment to continue the Bologna Process and expressed the need to consolidate the reforms in the period towards 2020.

With the 2010 Vienna Declaration, the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) was officially launched. In addition, ministers, expressed the need to dialogue with the wider world regarding the EHEA, and explore the role of the EHEA in a broader global perspective. It is in this context that two Bologna Policy Forums for European and non-European ministers responsible for higher education have been held in conjunction with the 2009 and 2010 Ministerial meetings.

Further information is available at the official EHEA website: www.ehea.info

EUA and the Bologna Process

EUA has been closely involved in the Bologna Process since it was conceived, with the aim of ensuring at all stages the full involvement of Europe’s universities. EUA participates as a consultative member in the Process, at the level of the bi-annual European ministerial meetings, the Bologna Follow-Up Group and in its working groups and task forces. The EUA Declarations, launched on the eve of the ministerial conferences, are vital for the realisation of the ministerial communiqués that define how Europe proceeds with the Bologna reforms. EUA provides essential information and analysis established through various initiatives and projects supported by its members, such as the Trends reports, which inform ministers, students, other stakeholders and the general public on how the Bologna reforms have been perceived and implemented by the European Universities. EUA has reflected on the achievements of the Bologna Process to date, and on the new steps to be taken in the first decade of the EHEA in its recent TRENDS 2010 report.

Through its work and policy engagement, EUA has contributed to establishing novel approaches under the Bologna Process, for example in the area of quality assurance, where it participated in the development of the European Standards and Guidelines and the establishment of the European Quality Assurance Register, or in its initiative to establish doctoral education as the third cycle and the European Universities’ Lifelong Learning Charter.

On many of these issues, EUA works in close partnership with other stakeholder organisations like the European Network for Quality Assurance (ENQA), the European Association of Institutions in Higher Education (EURASHE), the European Students’ Union (ESU), Education International and BUSINESSEUROPE, to ensure stakeholder involvement and encourage full cooperation between institutions, students, staff and employers in the development of the European Higher Education Area.

A key concern of EUA is that that the Bologna Process and the European Higher Education Area are reflected and taken into account in relation to other ongoing developments which are crucial for European universities. Therefore EUA is involved in the debates on the European Union’s Modernisation Agenda and it is also monitoring the interrelation of Bologna reforms and the recognition of professional qualifications under the European Commission’s Directive on the recognition of professional qualifications. As higher education and research are important elements and drivers of the European Union’s Lisbon Agenda, which aims to turn Europe into a knowledge-based economy and society, EUA follows these processes closely, and it is pushing for a rapprochement of the EHEA and the European Research Area (ERA).

EUA’s various inter-regional dialogues initiatives also provide the opportunity to discuss the European reforms and share knowledge and experiences with partners around the world.