2. Progress Implementing the Bologna Process Aims - The EHEA Today
We are now in 2014. The EHEA has (at least officially) been established for four years, and all countries participating are still hard at work. Several quantitative goals have been established that must be accomplished by 2020. In this rush towards the future however, we must not lose sight of the present. The Bologna Implementation was after all a more informal process where changes had to occur on a national level, as such, we cannot assume that all countries are on the same level, regardless of whether the EHEA is now formally established, or not. Therefore, we will evaluate the implementation of the Bologna Process aims according to the 2012 Bologna Implementation Report, to get a clear image of our real status quo.
The first aim was the establishment of the European Higher Education Area through a framework of: Comparable and readable degrees across Europe, a uniform credit system using ECTS, and the establishment of a three-cycle system (Undergraduate, Graduate, and Doctoral).
In 2012 the widespread use of the ECTS system was almost complete, but it is still not clear whether this provides for an objective and comparable credit system because there are still differences in how the credits are allocated (Bologna Process Implementation Report, 2012, p. 2.2.2). Yet it must be noted that it provides for a clearer framework that before. While it still needs some work an harmonizing, we can assume that this has been rather successfully accomplished.
Students in cycle system:
- 26 countries: 90%
- 13 countries: 70-89%
- Some countries: minimum due to lagging laws
What is alarming however, is the disparity among the cycle systems. While all 47 countries are implementing the three-cycle not all are at the same stage of doing so due to either a lag in the legislative changes, or a disparate participation of students in the cycle systems. The different levels of implementation of the cycle system might also be the reason why there have been complaints of students whose degrees are not recognized. Most countries still have programmes for several fields falling outside of this system due to EU, and national legislations that require longer years of study (e.g. medicine and dentistry). It is also worth noting that the numbers of students completing the second cycle varies strongly across the EHEA. This could imply that the first level of higher education has not yet been equally developed to grant access to the current labour market across the EHEA (Bologna Process Implementation Report, 2012, p. 2.1).
The second aim was to increasing mobility by decreasing administrative obstacles, and increasing legal recognition of degrees.
This is one of those aims set for 2020, when the EHEA hopes to have one fifth of all graduating students to have studied abroad for a study period or had training period abroad. This factor is not unaffected by the different levels of implementation...