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Nuffic NESO

Nuffic takes stock of views on Bologna

20 April 2009, 12:00

Nuffic’s Knowledge and Innovation Directorate gauged views on the Bologna process at eight universities of applied science and seven research universities.

Nuffic’s Knowledge and Innovation Directorate gauged views on the Bologna process at eight universities of applied science and seven research universities. Staff at international academic relations departments were interviewed to assess their views on progress and ideas on the steps needed to further the Bologna process.

Nuffic will be applying findings from this study to offer a more targeted response to the specific situations and wishes at universities of applied science and research universities. To this end, the organization will employ the physical and digital platforms it uses to support institutions in the development of international academic relations policy.

Goals of the Bologna process

The Bologna process was designed to create an attractive and internationally competitive higher education system by ensuring the mobility of students and lecturers. A key factor in achieving this mobility is the transparency of European higher education systems. Across Europe, these systems are structured on the basis of three cycles (bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate).

Number of imperfections

In 2002 the Netherlands was one of the first Bologna signatories to implement the bachelor’s-master’s structure. In hindsight, respondents feel the system has been blighted by a number of imperfections. An often-cited example is the lack of a ‘clean break’ between bachelor’s and master’s education. As a result, graduation from the bachelor’s programmes has failed to come into its own as a key moment in its own right. In late 2008, Minister for Education Plasterk proposed the belated introduction of such a ‘clean break’ in the structure.

The interviews also brought to light that despite the successful introduction of Bologna instruments such as the bachelor’s-master’s structure, diploma supplement and ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) in the Netherlands, their performance has proved less effective in practice.

Despite being legally required, the diploma supplement is still rarely issued by higher education institutions. The reasons cited include technology, costs and time constraints. The description of study programmes in learning outcomes is also behind on schedule. Interviewees felt these issues should be further addressed before any ambitious new targets were presented.

Current key issues

When asked to list current key issues on the Bologna agenda in need of more intensive attention, international academic relations employees listed the role of higher education in Lifelong Learning and promotion of the European Higher Education Area outside Europe.

On 28 and 29 April the minister’s conference on the Bologna process will take place in the Belgian cities of Leuven and Louvain-la-Neuve.

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