Navigation path

Left navigation

Additional tools

Higher Education in Europe 2009: Developments in the Bologna Process

European Commission - MEMO/09/172   22/04/2009

Other available languages: none

MEMO/09/172

Brussels, 22 April 2009

Higher Education in Europe 2009: Developments in the Bologna Process

This Memo presents an overview of the progress made in all 46 signatory countries in the ten years since the Bologna Declaration was signed. It is based on authoritative evidence from each country, and provides a clear comparative view of how issues in higher education reform have been addressed at national level.

The overall picture in 2009 reveals that substantial progress has been made in all the areas that have been examined, and the benefits of enhanced European cooperation brought about through the Bologna process are evident. Yet as European higher education is dynamic and evolving in a fast-changing context, the reform process itself is continually creating new challenges as a consequence of the ways in which implementation has been addressed in each country. Thus there is a need for an increased focus on the impact of structural reforms and on how higher education institutions and systems are responding to new challenges.

Widespread implementation of the Bachelor-Master structure

At this stage of the Bologna process, the new three-cycle structure is theoretically fully in place or has at least been extensively introduced in all countries in most institutions and programmes. However, several study fields, such as medical studies, architecture and engineering remain outside these new structures in some countries.

Convergence in the models for the first two cycles is clearly taking place. In the first cycle bachelor programmes, the 180 ECTS credit (3 academic years) model dominates in 19 countries whereas 11 countries have privileged its alternative, the 240 ECTS credits (4 years) model. Meanwhile in the second cycle master programmes the 120 ECTS credit (2 years) model appears to have gained far more ground than other designs, and now dominates in 29 of the countries / regions analysed.

Looking at the combination of first and second cycle programmes, the 180 + 120 ECTS credit (3+2 years) two-cycle structure is the most commonly adopted model. It is the most prominent model in 17 countries and also used in a further 22 countries where no unique model is established.

However the articulation between vocational education and the first cycle of higher education is a matter of significant divergence of approach across the European region. Countries where vocational education is organised as a separate system outside the university sector have tended to ignore the Bologna approach. Only 10 countries have consciously adapted the Bologna structures (particularly the bachelor concept) to include this level of education.

Two-cycle structure models most commonly implemented (2008/09)

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]
240 + 120 credits (4+2 years) model
[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]
240 + 60 credits (4+1 years) model
[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]
180 + 120 credits (3+2 years) model
[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]
Various combinations
[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]
No Master programmes
[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]
Not available


Source: Eurydice.

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]

Explanatory note

A unique model has not necessarily been designed and applied in each country, and institutions may have been given space to adapt. Nevertheless, in most countries a common approach or "reference model" stands out in practice. This figure tries to capture this situation.

European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS)

In the great majority of countries the introduction of ECTS has been based on legislation and regulation. At present such legal frameworks have been established in almost all countries, and thus at this formal level the speed of development of a common European credit accumulation and transfer system has been spectacular. However, substantial progress still needs to be made for the actual implementation of the ECTS system. In most cases, learning outcomes are not yet widely understood and used, while notional student workload is also a difficult concept to deal with. Thus credits continue to be defined in a variety of different ways on the basis of contact hours or various combinations including contact hours and notional student workload.

Level of implementation of ECTS (2008/09)

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]
ECTS used by more than 75 % of institutions
and programmes for transfer and accumulation
Allocation of ECTS based on learning outcomes
and student workload
[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]
ECTS used by more than 75 % of institutions
and programmes for transfer and accumulation
Allocation of ECTS is based on student workload
[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]
ECTS used by more than 75 % of institutions
and programmes for transfer and accumulation
Allocation of ECTS is based on contact hours,
or a combination of contact hours and student workload
[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]
ECTS used by 75 %or less institutions and/or 75 %
or less programmes for transfer and accumulation
Various references are used to define the credits.
[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]
National credit systems parallel or compatible
with ECTS.
ECTS is mainly used for transfer purposes.
[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]
Not available

Source: Eurydice.

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]

Diploma Supplement (DS)

Whereas the DS has been made mandatory in the very large majority of Bologna countries and globally complies with the general recommendations in terms of provision (automatically and free of charge in a widely used European language), the actual implementation still varies considerably. Despite the commitment made in 2003 that the Diploma Supplement would be fully in place by 2005, many countries are lagging behind. Even in countries where the DS has been widely introduced, only a limited number have undertaken monitoring exercises to find out how the DS is actually used by higher education institutions and employers, and the outcomes are rather mixed, with employers, institutions and graduates often not yet gaining the full benefit from the tool.

Level of implementation of the Diploma Supplement (2008/09)

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]
DS issued in vast majority
of study programmes
[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]
Partial and gradual introduction
[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]
Diploma Supplement not yet
introduced
[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]
Not available


Source: Eurydice.

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]

National Qualifications Frameworks (NQF)

The vast majority of Bologna countries have launched the process to define and implement a qualification framework at national level. Five of them have completed the whole process including self certification of its compatibility with the overarching Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area (FQ-EHEA) and re-design of programmes within the higher education institutions. The other countries have started the process and most of them do not expect to finalise it before 2012. In contrast to the introduction of the Diploma Supplement the design and development of national qualifications frameworks has proved to be complex, and the need for widespread consultation and public debate to ensure understanding of the frameworks and their purposes is essential. Thus although only few countries are likely to have achieved the goal of having a fully functioning national qualifications framework in place by 2010, the progress that has been made in this area is nevertheless very significant.

Stage towards establishing a National Qualification Framework (2008/09)

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]
Step 5: Overall process fully completed
including self-certified compatibility with the FQ-EHEA
[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]
Step 4: Redesigning the study programmes is on-going
and the process is close to completion.
[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]
Step 3: The NQF has been adopted formally
and the implementation has started.
[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]
Step 2: The purpose of the NQF has been agreed
and the process is under way including discussions
and consultations. Various committees have been established.
[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]
Step 1: Decision taken. Process just started.
[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]
Not available
[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]
Not yet started formally

Source: Eurydice.

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]

Mobility and Portability of Financial Support

After nearly ten years of developing the European Higher Education Area so that many more citizens will benefit from higher educational experiences outside their home country, it is perhaps surprising to discover that so little is known and understood about the reality of student mobility, nor of the real incentives and disincentives to mobility. Many countries still gather data only on nationality of students rather than tracking movement between countries for the purpose of study. With the current information deficit it is also difficult to assess the impact of the introduction of the Bologna three cycles.

The relationship between mobility and portability of student support is equally difficult to determine. Some countries have made their national grants and loans fully portable, others have introduced specific grants and loans for mobile students, and others still combine both elements. Yet it is difficult to ascertain the impact of specific financial support measures. The issue of public financial support for mobility also has to be seen in the context of increasing societal demands on the public purse, including for example the demand to widen participation in higher education. At a time of financial uncertainty and growing demand, and with a tendency in many countries to shift a greater share of costs to individual learners, care will need to be taken to ensure that developing equitable opportunities for mobility in the European Higher Education Area remains a priority.

Incoming and Outgoing Student Mobility in the European Higher Education Area (2008/09)

Incoming Student Mobility
Outgoing Student Mobility
[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]
[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]
Less than 1 %
[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]
1 – 3 %
[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]
3 – 6 %
[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image][Graphic in PDF & Word format][Graphic in PDF & Word format]
6 – 10 %
[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]
10 % +
[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image]
Data not available

Source: Eurostat.

Explanatory note

In the case of Incoming Student Mobility, the map shows the number of students of foreign nationality (from all countries) studying in a given country as a percentage of total enrolment. For Outgoing Student Mobility, the map shows the number of students from a given country studying abroad as a percentage of the total enrolment.

The full study Higher Education in Europe 2009: Developments in the Bologna Process is available in French and English

on the Eurydice website: www.eurydice.org

on the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency website:
http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/about/eurydice/index_en.htm

Printed copies of the study in English and French will be available from June 2009. The German translation will be available shortly afterwards.

Other key documents of interest:

Background information on the Eurydice network

The Eurydice network supports the development of European cooperation and national policies in education by providing information on and analyses of European education systems and policies. It consists of 35 national units based in all 31 countries participating in the EU Lifelong Learning programme (27 Member States, Lichtenstein, Norway and Iceland, as members of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Turkey) and a central coordinating unit based in the EU Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency in Brussels. It produces regular studies on various aspects of European education systems and provides detailed descriptions of the systems in each participating country.

www.Eurydice.org


Side Bar

My account

Manage your searches and email notifications


Help us improve our website