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Bologna Glossary

Bologna Terms and Definitions

Bologna Process: The ongoing process of working towards the creation of a European Higher Education Area (EHEA), to be completed by 2010.

Diploma Supplement: A document attached to a higher-education degree or diploma that provides a detailed description of the studies undertaken and successfully completed by the individual named on the original qualification.

ECTS (European Credit Transfer System): Establishes common procedures for recognizing studies completed abroad. The main goal of ECTS is to promote the exchange of academic information among European institutions of higher education in order to facilitate student mobility.

Tuning: The term "tuning" emphasizes the notion that universities are not looking to unify or harmonize their degree programs into a prescribed set of European curricula, but rather are looking for points of convergence and common understanding based on diversity and autonomy.

Two-Cycle System (two-tiered system): The Bologna Declaration calls for the adoption of a degree structure comprised of two clearly defined cycles: undergraduate (bachelors) and graduate (masters and doctorate).

Degree Structure

First Stage (bachelor-level degree): A higher education qualification requiring between 180 and 240 ECTS credits. It normally takes three to four years of full-time study to complete this degree.

Second Stage (master-level degree): The length of study programs leading to the master’s degree in Europe still varies considerably from country to country. However, there seems to be a trend towards a one-to-two year master’s degree requiring between 90 and 120 ECTS credits with a minimum requirement of 60 ECTS credits.

Joint Degrees: Degree programs jointly developed by two or more institutions. These qualifications are still being developed and are not currently recognized.

Double Degrees: A double degree is two or more degrees given by two or more higher education institutions for the same study program.

Bologna Documents

A comprehensive guide to all ministerial declarations, reports, documents, seminars, conferences & trends is available from the following websites:

European Association of International Educators (EAIE)

Bologna Bergen

Key Players in the Bologna Process

Council of Europe:
Promotes awareness and encourages the development of Europe's cultural identity and diversity.

EAIE (European Association for International Education):
A non-profit organization whose mission is to actively promote the internationalization of European higher education, and to meet the needs of international higher education professionals both in Europe and the rest of the world.

ENIC/NARIC Networks:
The ENIC Network provides information on the recognition of foreign diplomas, degrees and other qualifications, national education systems and opportunities for studying abroad. NARIC aims at improving academic recognition of diplomas and periods of study in the Memeber States of the EU, the EEA countries and the associated countries in Central and Eastern Europe and Cyprus.

ENQA (European Network for Quality Assurance):
ENQA is a European network that disseminates a wide range of information in the field of quality assessment and quality assurance in higher education.

ESIB (National Unions of Students in Europe):
ESIB is the umbrella organization of 50 national student union organizations from 37 European countries.

EUA (European University Association):
The main organization representing European universities and their national rectors' conferences. EUA's mission is to promote a coherent system of European higher education and research based on shared values, through active support and guidance to its members. It also seeks to strengthen the role of the institutions in the creation of the European Higher Education Area.

EURASHE (European Association of Institutions in Higher Education):
Reflects the interests of colleges and polytechnics in Europe. Organizes and attends conferences related to this sector and was actively involved in the preparation of the Berlin Conference.

Joint Quality Initiative: The Joint Quality Initiative is an informal network for quality assurance and accreditation of bachelor and master programs in Europe. It stems from the Bologna Declaration (1999) in which European ministers of education committed themselves, among other things.

UNESCO-CEPES: The European Centre for Higher Education (Centre Européen pour l'Enseignement Supérieur) is a decentralized office of the UNESCO Secretariat. It was established in September 1972 to promote cooperation in higher education among member states of the Europe region.

Timeline: The Bologna Process

1988: The Magna Charta Universitatum
Signed by the Rectors of European Universities in Bologna, Italy. The agreement outlines the founding principles of what will later become known as the Bologna Process.

April 1997: Lisbon Convention
Emphasizes mutual recognition of studies, certificates, diplomas and degrees to promote academic mobility among European countries.

May 1998: The Sorbonne Declaration
Calls for the “harmonization of the architecture of the European Higher Education System” and is signed by education ministers from France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom.

June 1999: The Bologna Declaration
Signed by 29 countries pledging to restructure their higher-education systems in an effort to create a coherent, compatible and competitive European Higher Education Area by the year 2010.

March 2001: Salamanca Convention
Over 300 higher-education representatives gather in Salamanca to assess the role of higher-education institutions in the Bologna Process in preparation for the Prague Summit of education ministers.

March 2001: Göteborg Student Convention
In preparation for the Prague summit, representatives of the National Unions of Students in Europe (ESIB) formally adopt their position on the Bologna Declaration in Göteborg.

May 2001: Prague Summit
Adds three more countries (Croatia, Cyprus and Turkey) to the Bologna Declaration, reviews progress made in the Bologna Process, and sets directions and priorities for the upcoming years.

May 2003: Graz Convention
The European University Association (EUA) council adopts the Graz Declaration, which emphasizes the central role universities must play in implementing the Bologna reforms.

September 2003: Berlin Summit
Reviews progress of the Bologna Process and set directions and priorities for the next stages of the European Higher Education Area. The Berlin Communiqué of Ministers is signed.

May 2005 : Bergen Summit
Five more countries (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine) sign onto the Bologna Process bringing the total number of signatories to 45. The Bergen Communiqué of Ministers is signed. The communiqué emphasizes the need for further progress in international cooperation in quality assurance.

May 2007 : London Summit
The newly independent nation of Montenegro signs onto the Bologna Process bringing the total number of signatories to 46. The London Communiqué is signed. The communiqué emphasizes the need for further progress in promoting student and faculty mobility, employability, and improving the international recognition of new European degrees.

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