GREECE: Coimbra Group critical of Bologna

Not everyone is enamoured with the Bologna agreement or with the way it is set up and is operating. The Coimbra Group, an association of traditional universities, is extremely sceptical of the process despite the fact Bologna is gaining friends and admirers within and outside the European Union.

Founded in 1985 and formally constituted by charter two years later, Coimbra is committed to creating special academic and cultural ties in order to promote, for the benefit of its members, internationalisation and academic collaboration, and excellence in learning and research. It also aims to influence European educational policy and develop best practices through the mutual exchange of information.

The group comprises 37 universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, Granada, Edinburgh, Montpellier, Geneva, Sienna, Prague, Uppsala, Barcelona, Dublin, Graz, Heidelberg, Padova, Salamanca and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

At its annual general assembly in the German city of Jena at the end of May, members responded negatively to the provisions of Bologna and, in particular, to the eight year study cycle proposed by the agreement.

The view that the "convergence procedure of the higher education systems in the European Union countries as outlined by the Bologna agreement and specifically the 3-2-3 scheme (three years undergraduate studies, two years postgraduate and three years for doctorate studies) is not the most appropriate for the educational process," was expressed by several rectors during the meeting.

In a press release later, the Aristotle University stated: "A scientist who graduates from a university must not be restricted to a speedy acquisition of training skills but should possess the characteristics of a mature scientist who apart from knowledge in the area in which he has been trained must also possess the philosophical approach of his science and the educational perceptions of society."

During discussion of research at the assembly, rectors suggested that it should not be based exclusively on applied research but to a large degree on human ideals and should attempt to play a decisive part in the development of society.

Though critical of the Bologna agreement, the Coimbra Group is not opposed to the European Union's educational policies. In fact, one of its aims is to work with EU institutions with a view to participating or organising higher education and research projects to the benefit of its members.