EUROPE: Coimbra Group position paper on Bologna

At their annual conference last year the Coimbra Group, an association of 37 long-standing and internationally respected European universities, reflected on the European higher education landscape in view of the 2010 deadline for the Bologna Process. The universities "enthusiastically embraced" Bologna and the increased trans-national transparency it promotes, but highlighted critical issues that need to be addressed in the years to come. Last week the association published a freely accessible Position Paper The Coimbra Group and European Higher Education after Bologna 2010

The universities "recommend a shift in attention from structures to contents", said Coimbra in a summary of the paper, and encourage "Ministers of Education to take concrete measures to ensure that the degrees within the Bologna structure are based on internationally comparable learning outcomes. Alternative learning paths have to lead to certificates with titles that differ from those of the standard Bologna degrees."

The Group's universities also suggest that more transparency is introduced in institutional diversity, genuine support for mobility and "permanent attention to the societal role of universities. They are confident that internationally attractive and competitive universities will emerge from the present process, ready to face the challenges of a globalising world."

In January the Coimbra Group published a Position Paper on The Place and Role of Doctoral Programmes in the Bologna Process, following a decision taking at the association's 2006 general assembly. Doctoral programmes will also be the main theme of this June's annual conference in Turku.

The Group says in a statement announcing the paper that to its university members "the doctoral degree represents the ultimate expression of the inseparable link between the European Higher Education Area and the European Research Area", and that the researchers they produce represent "one of the most important contributions we can provide to innovation and development". The Position Paper was prepared as the Coimbra Group's contribution to a meeting of Ministers of Education in London in May.

Both position papers on the Coimbra Group site