ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0019  09 March 2008
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The Bologna process was created to align higher education in Europe. In this edition, our correspondents assess the progress to date and consider what is yet to come.

For academics around the world, Bologna will never again be just a city in Italy. We report on the knock-on effects of the Bologna process for education systems from Australia to the USA.

Before there was Bologna, there was the Sorbonne Declaration. Our correspondent recalls the meeting that laid the foundations for a "Europe of knowledge".

Special report next week:

Older people are flocking to universities around the world as the demand for more highly-skilled workers rises.


SPECIAL REPORT: Bologna – Within and beyond Europe

Few other developments in the long history of higher education have had such an extraordinary impact around the world as the decision by a group of European countries almost a decade ago to ‘harmonise’ the way their universities operated. Most nations on earth have followed the developments of the Bologna process with increasing interest and many have modified their own higher education systems so they are compatible with Bologna principles.

Not only have the countries of Europe been caught up in the Bologna process, but other nations across Africa, Asia, Australasia and North America have become involved – either as observers or as adopters of similar changes. As the European University Association’s David Crosier notes in a feature article in this edition, one of the most amazing aspects of Bologna has been its voluntary nature: profound changes have occurred without international treaties or European legislation.

Crosier pointedly observes that no government feels threatened by a voluntary agreement to implement actions that are essentially common sense responses to a changing environment. “And even the most traditional and conservative universities recognise they cannot hold back the waves of today’s fast-evolving society,” he says. “Students also see that higher education systems could and should do more to support them, and therefore have acted with consistent intelligence to influence the Bologna agenda.”

You can read his full report and those by our correspondents in the stories that follow.

EU: Europe's groundbreaking Bologna process
Keith Nuthall
The Bologna process was launched in 1999 with great fanfare and hopes for a brave new world within European higher education, but the initiative involved a leap of faith by universities and colleges. For although it makes good sense that the 46 countries now taking part should have higher education systems sufficiently compatible to improve collaboration and course exchanges, such a limited goal was never going to be enough.
Full report on the University World News site

FRANCE: Sorbonne Declaration – Precursor to Bologna
Jane Marshall
A year before Bologna there was the Sorbonne Declaration. On 25 May 1998, more than 2,000 academics and policy-makers from all corners of Europe gathered in the marbled halls of Paris’ celebrated university in honour of its 800th anniversary – and to lay the foundations of a “Europe of knowledge” for the 21st century.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: Bologna may not end one-year masters courses
Diane Spencer
When the Bologna process was instigated, British academics were pretty relaxed because many of the proposed structures contained within its guidelines fitted Britain's tertiary education system – everything, that is, except one-year masters degree courses. These are considerably shorter than in most continental European countries, especially those courses that have been introduced following the Bologna launch.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Questions remain for American universities
Arlene Cherwin
As European students applying for graduate study in America present three-year Bologna-compliant degrees as proof of completion of undergraduate studies, many questions remain for US universities. The US is not part of the process but it is posing challenges given that traditionally, American graduate schools require a four-year undergraduate degree for admission to graduate study. Since no over-arching authority governs American higher education (although state universities have relationships with their states), university autonomy may create different measurements and decisions regarding Bologna degrees.
Full report on the University World News site

RUSSIA: Bologna about to take root
Nick Holdsworth
After years of dragging its heels over following the higher education framework it formally joined in 2003, Russia is preparing to roll out the Bologna process' two-tier skills and competency-based higher education reforms within a year. Russian universities and degree-awarding colleges must offer three-year bachelor and two-year masters courses from 2009.
Full report on the University World News site

GERMANY: University heads assess Bologna reform
Mike Gardner
The heads of higher education institutions in Germany have called for more public spending as they undertake restructuring at the behest of the Bologna process. At a recent university rectors meeting in Bonn, critical issues examined by representatives of the Hochschulrektorenkonferenz (HRK) organisation included insufficient government funding to support the process, increased drop-out rates in some subjects and the need to reconsider the length of courses.
Full report on the University World News site

GREECE: Diverging views, patchy execution of Bologna
Makki Marseilles
A curious bras de fer is going on between the government and academic community over the provisions of the Βologna process. Greece has been a signatory since 1999 and both the state and academics are willing to see the creation of a European Higher Education Area – but they appear to be following different agendas.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Bologna responses follow ex-colonial lines
Karen MacGregor
The Bologna process is impacting on higher education in Africa, in some countries directly but in others slowly and circuitously. "It is pushing the region into looking at its own quality assurance frameworks and the portability of qualifications," says Dr Nasima Badsha, advisor to the South African Education Minister and head of the Cape Higher Education Consortium. Bologna-related activity is most vigorous in Francophone North African nations, some of which are changing their degree and qualifications systems in line with European reforms.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Warnings of impending doom subside
Geoff Maslen
It took seven years before an Australian government reacted to the transformation of European higher education that had begun in 1999. The response finally came early in 2006 and was framed as a sharp warning to Australia's vice-chancellors: Watch out! The then federal Education Minister Julie Bishop told university chiefs in no uncertain terms that they could lose tens of thousands of fee-paying foreign students to European institutions unless their universities adapted to the Bologna process.
Full report on the University World News site


EU: The future of Bologna
David Crosier*
As in other regions of the world, European higher education is in the throes of a major transformation. The Bologna declaration of 1999 triggered wide-scale reform across the continent. Over the past few years, not only has the introduction of new degree structures taken centre stage but a range of other European and national higher education and research issues has also found synergies with the Bologna reforms to create possibly the most potent change process ever experienced on the continent.
Full report on the University World News site

EU: Next stop after Bologna?
Ard Jongsma
In 2009, the Bologna process will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a ministerial conference in Leuven, Belgium. There will be reason to celebrate: the achievements of a decade of developing the European Higher Education Area far exceed what the original 1999 signatories could possibly have imagined. But what will happen after 2010?
Full report on the University World News site


INDONESIA: A man of the people
David Jardine
When Indonesia's ex-strongman Soeharto died recently, the media was unsurprisingly awash with commentaries on his 32-year rule and its legacy. One commentator I looked for in particular was the noted educationist Professor Mochtar Buchori, a frequent contributor to the English-language The Jakarta Post. A voice of sanity, reason and tolerance, Pak Moch, as he is known, did not disappoint. In a piece called “Conversation with a taxi driver” he related how he had drawn out the views of a Jakarta cabbie, a member of a breed that works very long hours. The professor was once again demonstrating his populist touch, keeping in contact with the Common People.
Full report on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

RUSSIA: Students use 'toilet humour' against newspaper
Nick Holdsworth
Student members of a pro-Putin youth group used by the Kremlin to harass opponents are thought to be behind a Moscow stunt apparently designed to discredit a leading Russian newspaper. Dozens of young people at metro station exits handed out rolls of cheap toilet paper to bemused Muscovites on last week printed with newspaper columns identical to those of business daily Kommersant.
Full report on the University World News site


US: European students in the Bologna process
The student constituency across Europe has supported the Bologna process and has been vocal in demanding that Bologna reforms be implemented at their institutions. The European Students’ Union has played a particularly visible role, ensuring that student interests are reflected in Bologna policies, writes Manja Klemencic, a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University and a former secretary-general of the union, in the most recent issue of International Higher Education, the journal of the Center for International Higher Education, Boston College. In so doing, the union also “transformed from a ‘sleeping giant’ to a major player in European higher education politics”.
More on the University World News site

VENEZUELA: Public debate on university admissions
Venezuelan Vice-President Ramón Carrizales has proposed a public debate over higher education admissions policies in state-funded universities as part of a "profound revision of the education that we are constructing", writes James Suggett in The government has recommended a more inclusive admissions system that would eliminate the standardised aptitude test for university aspirants, as well as all mechanisms of internal university selection, in a country where only a fraction of students at big public universities come from the lowest income groups. But not all students approve.
More on the University World News site


US: The bad news and the good news
I hate to quibble, but the word you want in your final article in last week's University World News is ‘raze’ and not ‘raise’. It does make a difference in the meaning of the article. But, having said that, I love your newsletter. I read it every Sunday morning and forward articles to my friends. At the risk of sounding anti-American, I assumed the author of the piece was from my side of the pond and that, therefore, he/she had never learned to spell?
Karen Cardenas, Executive Director, South Dakota World Languages Association. Brookings, South Dakota
More readers letters
Readers are invited to send comments and corrections to


UK: Cautious welcome to university expansion
The government's plan to create 20 new higher education centres has received a cautious welcome from students and lecturers, reports Anthea Lipsett in the Education Guardian. The universities secretary, John Denham, has invited towns and cities to bid for new university campuses and centres of higher education, after launching a debate over the future of the sector. Students and academics have cautiously welcomed the scheme, A new university challenge.
More on the University World News site

NEW ZEALAND: Top brains warn of research 'catastrophe'
New Zealand's lack of funding for basic research is a "slow-burning catastrophe" that is contributing to the brain drain, a group of the country's top thinkers has warned, reports the New Zealand Herald. In an open letter to Science Minister Pete Hodgson, 460 of New Zealand's leading scientists and academics urged government to treble the Marsden Fund, New Zealand's core basic research fund.
More on the University World News site

JAPAN: Over-enrolling universities to lose fees
To discourage the over-enrolment of students by national universities, the Education, Science and Technology Ministry will start forfeiting some of the additional tuition fees generated by the practice, reports The Yomiuri Shimbun. Increasing numbers of national universities have been accepting new students beyond the limits of their quotas, causing concern that this is having an adverse effect on the quality of education, officials said.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH KOREA: University cuts weak research profs
Six professors at Korea’s Advanced Institute of Science and Technology have failed to have their jobs renewed because of poor research performance, reports The Korea Times – the first terminations for this reason in a university system where a professorship has been considered a job for life. The institute will offer a one-year grace period to the academics so that they can find other jobs.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: Foreign distance education might be regulated
The government is considering a proposal to set up an independent statutory body to regulate distance and online education and entry of foreign distance education providers, reports The Economic Times. The proposal is at an advanced stage of consideration, according to the Minister of State for Human Resource Development, D Purandeshwari.
More on the University World News site

US: From Bay area to Red Sea
Two prominent California universities have announced lucrative five-year contracts to recruit faculty for and undertake collaborative research with an as-yet unopened Saudi Arabian university. The University of California at Berkeley is set to receive $28 million and Stanford University $25 million under the five-year agreements with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, a graduate research university on the Red Sea expected to open in 2009 with a multi-billion dollar endowment, writes Insider Higher Ed.
More on the University World News site

NIGERIA: Pay striking lecturers – and face sanctions
The federal government has warned that it will deal with vice-chancellors who decide to pay salaries of members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) who are on strike, reports This Day. Minister of Education Dr Aja Nwachukwu said it was embarrassing that members of the ASUU were bent on continuing with their strike despite ongoing negotiations with the government.
More on the University World News site

UK: Wales hit by graduate brain drain
Wales is experiencing an alarming brain drain, with more than half of its graduates leaving to work elsewhere, a new report has revealed. According to the Western Mail, Wales retains fewer of its first degree graduates than any other UK nation, posing huge problems for employers in areas including maths and marketing.
More on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: PM says university crisis is Howard's legacy
Universities are in crisis after the Howard years and their finances need to be boosted to ensure a productive future, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has said, reports The Age. And Education Minister Julia Gillard, while not directly saying that universities would be given more public money, promised that universities can "look forward to a productive conversation with the Government about overcoming the financial burden" they have been under.
More on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: S ex work helps pay for university
Hundreds of university students in Victoria have turned to p rostitution to pay their way through higher education, The Sunday Age reports. Up to 40% of female s ex workers in Melbourne's b rothels are attending the city's eight universities and other colleges. Many of the women cite the costs of course fees, increased rent and a rise in the general cost of living for their decision to join the ‘oldest profession’.
More on the University World News site
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