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Bologna to 2020: Call for Education Ministers to move from aspiration to action

ESU has kickstarted its campaign of work leading up the Ministerial Conference of the Bologna Process in April by launching its student declaration towards this crucial meeting.  Gathering in Prague last week (15-19th February), more than 100 national student representatives from over 30 countries came together to analyse the progress made on Bologna over the last 10 years, and to formulate a common voice towards the shape the Process should take in the next decade to 2020.

The key message of the declaration is that, although progress has been made since its inception on 19 June 1999, the vision of a European Higher Education Area (EHEA) which the Bologna Process was designed to create is still a long way from be delivered.  Words have failed to be met by actions, and there is an ‘à la carte’ approach to the implementation of the reforms in many countries which means that certain action lines, specifically those relating to the social dimension and mobility, are being neglected.

The Ministerial Conference will take place from 28-29 April in the Belgian university towns of Leuven and Louvain-la-Neuve, and will see Education Ministers from all 46 Bologna signatory countries converge to review the progress made since the last Ministerial in London in 2007, and to set the priorities for delivering the EHEA by 2020.  As students are the primary group affected by the Bologna Process changes, ESU and its members will be working continuously between now and the end of April to ensure that our perspective is clearly heard at the decision-making table.

In particular, we will be calling for the following from Ministers:

A commitment to strengthening the social dimension through adequate support systems for students to ensure that participation in higher education is not based on financial means, coupled with national action plans and concrete goals for widening participation to reflect the diversity of each member country;
A guarantee that the value of free education for all will be upheld, and that neither tuition fees, nor any other form of payment by students, will enter into the Process;

A target and action plan to make 20% of students mobile by 2020, as supported by the European Commission;

A commitment not to introduce rankings into the Bologna Process. Rankings, or the so-called “transparency instruments”, provide a false indication of institutional performance and quality, are inaccurate and pay scant attention to the information needs of students;

A commitment to involve students in the development and implementation of the Bologna reforms at every stage to ensure full ownership of the Process by those affected by it.

The full text of the ESU Student Declaration towards the Ministerial Conference of the Bologna Process can be found here.


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