Higher Education and Research

Contribution of the Council of Europe to the Bologna Process from 2001 - 2003

The Council of Europe contributed to the Bologna Process in various ways:

  • - through the work of the Steering Committee for Higher Education and Research (CDESR),
  • - through cooperation with countries which were not members of the Bologna Process by organising different seminars or advising on policy development and legal reforms,
  • - with the official Bologna seminar on recognition issues in Lisbon 2002, to mark 5th anniversary of the Lisbon Recognition Convention,
  • - through continuous participation in follow-up structures, most notably in the Bologna Follow-Up Group and the Berlin Preparatory Group,
  • - through contributions to several official Bologna seminars – Council of Europe representatives being General Rapporteurs or key note speakers.

Forum for government and academic representatives and international organisations

Through the Steering Committee for Higher Education and Research (CDESR), and its double representation of both, academic and government representatives from 48 countries party to the European Cultural Convention, as well as representatives from international organisation, the Council of Europe provided a wide platform for debate of the issues related to the Bologna Process. Both the CDESR from 2002, and Higher Education and Research Committee (CC-HER) before that, have organised round table debates on the Bologna Process during their plenary session and defined three areas for possible future contribution of the Council of Europe:

Furthermore, CDESR has also discussed issues such as GATS and trade in education during its plenary sessions and representatives of the Council of Europe played an active role in the UNESCO’s Global Forum on Quality Assurance, Accreditation and the Recognition of Qualifications.

New and recent accessions

One of the main advantages of the Council of Europe in the Bologna Process is that it serves as the primary bridge between countries, which are already in the process, and those who expressed an interest to join. In this respect, it is worth mentioning that the Council of Europe gave valuable contribution to the conclusions of the ad-hoc working group proposing criteria for further accessions to the Bologna Process. As a result, the European Cultural Convention, signed by 48 European countries was accepted as the geographical criteria.

In addition to this, the Council of Europe organised, or co-organised several national seminar on the Bologna Process in countries such as Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro (previously Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” on various issues: from recognition of degrees to the legislation for higher education.

Recognition of qualifications

The work on recognition issues was one of the key activities of the Council of Europe in between two Bologna Ministerial Conferences.

In 2002, in cooperation with the Portuguese authorities, the Council of Europe organised a major international conference in Lisbon, to mark the 5th anniversary of adoption of the Lisbon Recognition Convention. The conference conclusions addressed various actors: higher education institutions, academic networks, student organisations, the ENIC and NARIC Networks, governments and the Council of Europe and other international organisations. Recommendations to the Berlin Ministerial Conference were also made:

  • o In response to concerns expressed by a part of the higher education community, including some students, make clear that new degree structures should continue to ensure that higher education promotes three main qualities in its graduates:
  • o preparation for the labour market
  • o preparation for active citizenship
  • o preparation for continued personal development
  • o Encourage further work at national and European levels o the issue of learning outcomes
  • o Encourage the development of a stronger European awareness of recognitions issues, by strengthening existing networks and promoting more open access to relevant information
  • o Invite all European States of the Bologna Process to ratify the Lisbon Recognition Convention, as a major element to facilitate the creation of the European Higher Education Area.

In 2003, the Council of Europe published “Recognition Issues in the Bologna Process”, which includes presentations and conclusions of the Lisbon 2002 seminar.

In addition to this, the Council of Europe also continued to assist the ENIC Network and its cooperation with the NARIC Network and other European networks, especially ENQA - European Network for Quality Assurance in Higher Education.

In 2001, two important subsidiary documents to the Lisbon Recognition Convention were developed:

  • - Code of Good Practice in the Provision of Transnational Education and
  • - Recommendation on Criteria and Procedures for the Assessment of Foreign Qualifications.

The ENIC and NARIC Networks have adopted in May 2003 a draft recommendation on the issue of recognition of joint degrees, which is to be considered for adoption by the Lisbon Recognition Convention Committee in June 2004. Furthermore, acknowledging one of the recommendations of the Lisbon 2002 seminar, that more needs to be done concerning information on recognition, the ENIC and NARIC Networks have established a Working Party on Information Development and Strategy.

Other contributions

The Council of Europe representatives actively participated in the work of the Bologna Follow-Up Group and the Berlin Preparatory Group and also served as general rapporteurs or key not speakers for several international seminars.

In 2002 and 2003 the Council of Europe prepared a survey on student participation in governance in higher education, an important document in itself, which also served for the official Bologna seminar on “Student Participation in Governance in Higher Education” organised by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research.