CEBTS - Consortium of European Baptist Theological Schools

Basic info on European union Bologna process

The purpose of the Bologna process is to create the European higher education area by harmonising academic degree standards and quality assurance standards throughout Europe for each faculty and its development. It is named after the place it was proposed, 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.

Before the signing of the Bologna declaration, the Magna Carta Universitatum had been issued at a meeting of university rectors celebrating the 900th anniversary of the University of Bologna - and thus of European universities - in 1988. One year before the Bologna declaration, education ministers Claude Allegre (France), Jürgen Rüttgers (Germany), Luigi Berlinguer (Italy) and the Baroness Blackstone (UK) signed the Sorbonne declaration in Paris 1998, committing themselves to "harmonising the architecture of the European Higher Education system". French officials in particular therefore often refer to the La Sorbonne/Bologna process.

The Council of Europe and UNESCO have jointly issued the Lisbon recognition convention on recognition of academic qualifications as part of the process, which has been ratified by the majority of the countries party to the Bologna process.

The basic framework adopted is of three cycles 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. A Framework of Qualifications for the European Higher Education Area was adopted by the ministers responsible for higher education at a meeting in Bergen in May 2005.

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

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