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On Friday 15 May, European Education Ministers adopted a new Bologna Communiqué.It acknowledges achievements since their last meeting in Bucharest in 2012, and sets out their commitments for the next phase. Together with representatives of countries from outside the EHEA, they also adopted the Bologna Policy Forum Statement.
Unlike on previous occasions, the Communiqué also mentions challenges, e.g. it points to “uneven”, “incorrect”, bureaucratic and superficial implementation. This is also a result of the more comprehensive and diligent assessment of progress in recent years. A presentation of the second Bologna Implementation Report reminded the audience that the “portability of grants and loans” to which Ministers commit in the Yerevan Communiqué, had already been agreed to at the 2003 Conference in Berlin. However as the report shows, so far, only a few countries have been implementing it. Most EHEA countries were represented at the conference, many at ministerial level,
confirming that the process still has convening power. Given that all EHEA neighbouring countries had been invited to join the Bologna Policy Forum, it is a bit disappointing that only five countries attended, and it certainly raises the question of what should be the future of this initiative.
While some Ministers may feel that there are more urgent issues than Bologna, university leaders tend to be more positive about the process today than some years ago. This is one of the conclusions from the recently launched EUA Trends 2015 Report.
EUA Secretary General Lesley Wilson, speaking in a stakeholder panel during the conference, pointed out that significant change has taken place over the past years in European higher education institutions as a result of the Bologna Process, and related national reforms. But she also warned that in many countries, budget cuts combined with restricting autonomy, threatened to endanger quality and achievements and hinder further reform progress, in particular the goal of widening access and participation. At the same time, looking forward, it will be important for European universities that the Bologna Process addresses the issues that will matter for their future.
SEFI was represented during this Bologna through our Vice President Prof. Antonia Moropoulou.