European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Androulla Vassiliou has told Member States that they need to urgently modernise their higher education systems and remove barriers to a fully functioning European Higher Education Area (EHEA) in response to the crisis and rising youth unemployment. Speaking ahead of the two-yearly meeting of higher education ministers in Bucharest (Romania), in the framework of the Bologna Process, Commissioner Vassiliou underlined that action is essential to help drive jobs and growth in Europe.
"The European Higher Education Area has undoubtedly made real progress in bringing different countries' systems closer together. But we need to do more: higher education should be at the heart of all our efforts to overcome the crisis, opening doors to better opportunities for our young people," the Commissioner stated. "It is essential that Europe delivers reforms that will unleash its full potential to shape our future. Our target is a fully functioning EHEA which provides top-class education and employable skills for all, which stimulates innovation and ensures proper recognition of academic qualifications."
These goals will not be achieved "without securing sufficient funding for higher education to make a lasting contribution to economic wellbeing and social progress," she added.
Higher education ministers from 47 European countries are meeting in Bucharest on 26 and 27 April to agree on reforms to create a modernised, open European Higher Education Area. Against the backdrop of the crisis and its social impact, Ministers have agreed that reforms need to concentrate on developing the underexploited capacity of higher education to contribute to growth and employability – a message that is also central to the European Commission's 'Agenda for Modernising Higher Education Systems in Europe', adopted in September 2011 (see IP/11/1043).
A report on the current state of progress in implementing the Bologna Process reforms is also published today.
The Bologna Process seeks to create a European Higher Education Area in which students can choose from a wide and transparent range of high quality courses and benefit from smooth recognition procedures.
Since its beginnings in 1999, the Bologna Process has been an example of successful Europe-wide cooperation, bringing together European countries to agree and implement higher education reforms on the basis of voluntary cooperation. It has made progress that would not have been possible through purely national approaches. The European Commission is an active member of the Bologna Process, together with the 47 member countries.
The main Bologna reforms have concentrated on the three-cycle degree structure (bachelor, master, doctorate), quality assurance, and recognition of qualifications and periods of study.
The Bologna degree structure is generally being adopted; in three-quarters of the EHEA countries, between 70 and 90% of students are studying in programmes that correspond to the Bologna bachelor and master system.
Read the full press release "Higher education reform key for jobs and growth, Bologna Process Ministers are told"