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External Dimension Update

The debate on the “external dimension” of the Bologna Process continues to be an interesting one. Indeed, it sometimes seems as if this topic includes everything from European identity to support services in higher education institutions. Recently, ESIB participated in the last of three seminars on this topic, hosted by the Nordic governments in Oslo, Norway.

Anita Lice of CoCo spoke at the event, which also saw the presentation of a draft report and strategy by Prof. Pavel Zgaga, rapporteur of the Bologna follow-up working group on the external dimension. The intention of this seminar was to bring together the various elements discussed at previous events and to provide feedback directed towards a final report that will ultimately be a part of the next Ministerial summit in London, England in May 2007.

Many issues continue to be controversial. In particular, the promotion, recognition and ‘attractiveness’ of the European Higher Education Area in other parts of the world is proving to be a thorny question. Should European HE be a single ‘brand’? What is the relationship between academic values and attractiveness? ESIB’s contribution to the debate has included the highlighting of concerns such as ‘brain drain’ and the exploitation of non-European students by some institutions for financial gain. Members of the Bologna Process Committee (BPC) and Committee on Commodification of Education (CoCo) have been actively engaged in putting forward a view of international engagement and student rights that is focused on education rather than profit. The forthcoming report and strategy is eagerly awaited by the European education sector, as many ongoing future issues (such as student recruitment and the recognition of ‘Bologna’ across the world) will be influenced by Prof. Zgaga’s conclusions.

The working group, on which ESIB is represented alongside other consultative members such as the EUA and the Council of Europe, will meet next week to discuss the final report and thus feed in to preparations for London.


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