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Education ministers commit to improve opportunities in higher education

While countries are still struggling to get out of the economic crisis, European education ministers have underlined that higher education is a public responsibility. “It is positive that they also specify underrepresented groups as a priority when trying to provide more equal opportunities in higher education”, says Ligia Deca, ESU Chairperson in a reaction to the Vienna/Budapest declaration following the 7th Bologna Process ministerial conference.

After the Bologna Process started in 1999, governments across Europe have been trying to create a common European Higher Education Area. By now, 47 countries have become part of the process.

Ligia Deca commented: “The ministers clearly admitted that the Bologna reform of higher education has been unevenly implemented. The process has often misused to fit short-term national agendas. We now see that at least on paper, the education ministers seem more willing than before to acknowledge the students’ voices. Student participation in higher education governance must be mainstreamed at all levels.”

In the declaration, ministers “fully support staff and student participation in decision-making structures at European, national and institutional levels.”
The ministers also “call upon all actors involved to facilitate an inspiring working and learning environment and to foster student-centred learning as a way of empowering the learner in all forms of education, providing the best solution for sustainable and flexible learning paths”.

Deca said: “Governments must also remember that issues like student support services, student housing, and student counseling must be an integral part if we are to achieve a real paradigm shift to student-centred learning. But a cultural change from teaching perspective to learning perspective is an absolute minimum.”

For more information about ESU policy, research and information about the Bologna Process, see also:- ESU members’ statement towards the Budapest/Vienna ministerial conference
– ESU policy paper: Towards 2020 – a student centered Bologna Process
– Publication: Bologna at the Finish Line – an account of ten years of European higher education reform
– Documentary film: Faces of Bologna

Ligia Deca’s power point presentations from the ministerial conference:

Social dimension
Recognition and mobility
Quality assurance and degree structures
Speaking notes for the three presentations


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