AUSTRALIA: Melbourne aligns with Bologna

Your report on Bologna in Australia overlooked significant developments at the University of Melbourne. ("Warnings of impending doom subside" – 9 March 2008). Over the past two years, Melbourne has been moving to a 3+2 model similar to, though not an exact replica of, the Bologna model.

Melbourne is the first Australian university to adopt a graduate school model – known as the Melbourne Model – where undergraduates will complete degrees which have depth of disciplinary content and educational breadth before entering professional degree programmes in law, engineering, medicine, education, etc which will only be offered in graduate schools.

This year, Melbourne introduced six three-year 'new generation' undergraduate degrees – arts, biomedicine, commerce, environments, music and science – which will eventually replace a mass of undergraduate degrees. With new generation degrees being introduced over four years, Melbourne's undergraduate offerings have already dropped from 96 to 29. By 2011, the University expects to offer just six or seven.

One quarter of each of these new generation degrees will be undertaken outside the core discipline. Specially designed university-wide subjects will be taught across several faculties introducing students to a range of disciplinary approaches to issues such as climate change and indigenous studies. Graduates of new generation programmes will enter the workforce directly, or go on to graduate school to undertake a graduate professional degree, or undertake a research higher degree programme.

Peter McPhee, Provost, University of Melbourne.