Higher Education and Research

The Social Dimension of the Bologna Process

The necessity to pay attention to the social dimension of the Bologna Process was first stressed by ESIB in its Student Gőteborg Declaration and then included in the Prague Communiqué by addressing the issue of higher education as public good and public responsibility:

“… As the Bologna Declaration sets out, Ministers asserted that building the European Higher Education Area is a condition for enhancing the attractiveness and competitiveness of higher education institutions in Europe. They supported the idea that higher education should be considered a public good and is and will remain a public responsibility (regulations etc.), and that students are full members of the higher education community. …”

as well as when noting the involvement of students:

“… Ministers affirmed that students should participate in and influence the organisation and content of education at universities and other higher education institutions. Ministers also reaffirmed the need, recalled by students, to take account of the social dimension in the Bologna process. …”

In February 2003, the Greek Government organised a Bologna seminar on the topic (see report and conclusions), which was followed by ESIB’s 5th European Student Convention on “How to achieve genuine student mobility”. Both events, among other, used the EuroStudent2000 report by the European Council for Student Affairs (ECStA).

The Ministers at the Berlin Conference afterwards made even stronger commitment to the social dimension of the Bologna Process by stating:

“ … Ministers reaffirm the importance of the social dimension of the Bologna Process. The need to increase competitiveness must be balanced with the objective of improving the social characteristics of the European Higher Education Area, aiming at strengthening social cohesion and reducing social and gender inequalities both at national and at European level. In that context, Ministers reaffirm their position that higher education is a public good and a public responsibility. They emphasise that in international academic cooperation and exchanges, academic values should prevail. …”

It is worth mentioning that the Council of Europe also made a significant contribution to this discussion: first through its programme on Access to Higher Education and then through the project on Lifelong Learning for Equity and Social Cohesion.

You can also check ESIB’s Equality Student Handbook or visit web site sections on related issues such as: mobility, trade in education and GATS, lifelong learning.