Overview: On June 19, 1999 a group of European Ministers of Education met in Bologna, Italy, with the intention of establishing by 2010 a "European Higher Education Area," based on principles of academic independence and autonomy. Their major goal was to produce a more transparent system which whereby the different national systems would all be structured on three cycles: Bachelor, Master and Doctorate. The resulting Bologna Declaration has been central to educational reforms among all of the EU countries.
It is named after the place it was proposed, the University of Bologna in the Italian city of Bologna, with the signing in 1999 of the Bologna declaration by Ministers of Education from 29 European countries. Every two or three years there are Ministerial Conferences organized in order to assess the progress made within the EHEA and to decide on the new steps to be taken.
- 1999: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom
- 2001: Croatia, Cyprus, Liechtenstein, Turkey
- 2003: Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Russia, Serbia, Vatican City
- 2005: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine
- 2007: Montenegro
- 2010: Kazakhstan
- 2015: Belarus
Mission, Goals, and Achievements: The Bologna Declaration aimed at ensuring that European higher education and research would be fully responsive to both social change and scientific advancement. To increase the competitiveness of European higher education, the signatories viewed these six improvements as essential:
- Grades. Academic grades need to be easy to read and compare. A diploma supplement, which would enhance international transparency for easier grade transfer and facilitate mutual recognition of academic and professional qualifications, was introduced.
- Degrees. A system of comparable degrees emerged as a key improvement. A two-tier system-undergraduate and graduate-was adopted: the first cycle (bachelor's degree) correlating to the employment market and lasting at least three years; the second cycle (master's degree) conditional upon the completion of the first cycle. The master's degree can lead to the third cycle, the doctorate degree.
- Credit Transfer. The signatories also agreed to establish a system for the easy transfer of academic credit through the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), thus promoting student mobility, improving student access to educational and training opportunities, recognizing staff work in Europe, and fostering European cooperation in assuring quality and compatibility.
- Mobility. The Accord promoted the ready access to study and training for students, and the recognition of achievements on the part of faculty, researchers, and administrators.
- Quality. It also advocated the development of comparable criteria and methodologies for assuring comparable quality throughout European educational systems. These criteria and methodologies could be extended to other countries.
- A "European Dimension." In working toward a "European dimension of higher education," the signatories aimed at fostering a "convergence" of higher education systems by coordinating their programs of study, training and research