25 April 2013Budapest, 25 April 2013European higher education reforms 1998 – 2013: Bologna in ‘teen’ age Prof. Dr. Pavel Zgaga University of Ljubljana
The last 15 years of the “concerted” European higher education (HE) reforms: time for reconsideration. Reforms have been carried out in the context of the ‘Bologna brand’. The ‘Bologna success’ vs. the ‘Bologna failures’. ‘Full implementation’is needed? Not the primary issue! 1998 – 2013: The context has changed immensely. Therefore, reconsideration … and re-conceptualisation. 1.0 Introduction
□ ‘Europeanisation’ of higher education, in particularly: Erasmus programme (since 1987); Maastricht Treaty (1992), article 126 & 127 □ ‘Global competition’, also in higher education: A feeling of European universities lagging behind USA and some countries of the Pacific rim. □ A fall of the Berlin wall; its material & symbolic effects: higher education ‘in transition’; Tempus (1990); ‘explosion’ of the CEE higher education sector. □ Increasing co-operation, mobility and competition in European as well as global higher education. 2.0 The Bologna accord of 1999 and its context
2.1 European convergencies & divergencies A background surveyTrends and issues in European higher education(June 1999), by G. Haug and J. Kirstein. Key findings: extreme diversity, to such a degree that it maywell be called confusion, or even chaos; the dense jungle of degrees, institutions and systems is the single biggest obstacle to moremobility in higher education in Europe; no ready-to-use external model(e.g. in the USA) that would be replicable;Europe needs to develop its own model to suit its unique cultural and educationalneeds; a convergent set of reforms recentlyintroduced or in progress in several European countries: they signal a move towards shorter studies.
2.2 The Birth of the Bologna Process (1999) “We are witnessing a growing awareness in large parts of the political and academic world and in public opinion of the need to establish a more complete and far-reaching Europe, in particular building upon and strengthening its intellectual, cultural, social and scientific and technological dimensions.”[…]“We engage in co-ordinating our policies to reachin the short term, and in any case within the first decade of the first millennium, the following objectives”: (1) adoption of a system of easily readable and comparable degrees; (2) adoption of a system essentially based on two main cycles; (3) establishment of the system of credits; (4)promotion of mobility[…]to the effective exercise of free movement; (5) promotion of European co-operation in quality assurance; (6) promotion of the necessary European dimensions in higher education. Bologna Declaration, 19 June 1999
2.3 “Concerns for the post-Bologna” from 1999 G. Haug and his five “main areas of concern for the post-Bologna developments” (EAIE, December 1999): □the risk of non-concerted reforms (“if some countries were to introduce superficial, window-dressing reforms, e.g. taking a long curriculum and just cutting it in bits and pieces”); □ the risk“to focus on very small differences rather than looking at the big common issues”(e.g. tracking the minor differences in content and organisation between degree in chemistry in two countries) ; □the risk that the challenge from abroad remains under-estimated (e.g. transnational education, etc.); □the risk if “not all countries in Europe be included in the process of setting up the European space for higher education”; □ “the most important risk […] is that HE institutions themselves under-estimate the level of change […] and wake up a little bit too late”.
2.4 The birth of the EHEA (2010) “3. The Bologna Declaration in 1999 set out a vision for 2010 of an internationally competitive and attractive EHEA where higher education institutions, supported by strongly committed staff, can fulfil their diverse missions in the knowledge society; and where students […] can find the best suited educational pathways.” “6. […] While much has been achieved in implementing the Bologna reforms, the reports also illustrate that EHEA action lines such as degree and curriculum reform, quality assurance […] are implemented to varying degrees. Recent protests in some countries […], have reminded us that some of the Bologna aims and reforms have not been properly implemented and explained. We acknowledge and will listen to the critical voices raised among staff and students. We note that adjustments and further work, involving staff and students, are necessary at European, national, and especially institutional levels to achieve the EHEA as we envisage it.” Budapest/Vienna Declaration, 12 March 2010
3.0 Reforms: From design to implementation Implementation of structural (higher education) reforms is always a risky/uncertain process. National HE reforms: centrally initiated but responsibilities are (should be) shared between partners at different levels. Bologna reforms: voluntary process of “connecting” national reforms. Design at the European level, implementation at the national / HE institutions (HEIs) level. A success at the European level (an emerging EHEA) is accompanied by problems at the national/HEIs level. The ‘Bologna Stocktaking’ (2009) – a confirmation that something went wrong; e.g.: “It seems that there is not enough integration at national level between the qualifications framework, learning outcomes and ECTS.”
3.1 Bolognavs.‘bolonia’ The strongest and the weakest point of the Bologna Process: it has been a voluntary process. The risk of different (even conflicting) interpretations and different views on priorities and pace of reforms. Transvestism of particular reform aims (at least in some countries) into ‘Bologna reforms’(‘pan-boloniasation’) has resulted in: □ an inadmissible ‘broadening’ of the Bologna action lines into various ‘bolonia’ scenarios (e.g. “bolonia requires that students pay fees in all countries” etc.); □ nationally constructed ‘bolonia’ reform aims as an excuse for domestic pushes and clashes; □ darkening of the national responsibility for higher education (excuses like “Brussels requires it” etc.).
4.0 Time for a critical reconsideration “Pre-history”( 1998/1999; 4/29 countries): ► developing a concept of “a common European Higher Education Area” (EHEA). “History”(2000-2005; 45 countries): ► drafting a framework for the EHEA: “a devil is in details”. Towards “the full implementation” (theend of history?) ► 2006-2010 (47 countries): “implementation of the agreed principles and guidelines”… … And now? ►Post-2010: a need for a critical evaluation (strengths & weaknesses) as well as re-conceptualisation.
4.1 Quality in the European higher education Co-operation, competition, attractiveness etc. depend on quality: it is about mutual trust. Development of quality assurance (QA)in HE: • “European co-operation in quality assurance” (Bologna, 1999); • European Network for QA in HE (ENQA, 2000); • Standards and guidelines for QA in the EHEA (2005); • Guidelines for Quality Provision in Cross-border HE (UNESCO & OECD, 2005); • European Quality Assurance Register(EQAR; 2008). There is a strength of the emerging EHEA: Europe has succeeded in establishing framework conditions of its own QA system (hopefully not ‘biased by national stakes’). – However, problems reported in the process of implementation may represent risks and weaknesses.
4.2 European qualificationsframework (QF) Bologna, 1999: “a system essentially based on two main cycles – within the first decade of the first millennium”. Development towards the European QF: • “national frameworks of comparable and compatible qualifications – in terms of workload, level, learning outcomes, competences and profile” (Berlin, 2003); • adoption of “the overarching framework for qualifications in the EHEA” (Bergen, 2005); • the “central element of the promotion of European higher education in a global context” (London, 2007); • “We aim at having them implemented by 2012” (Leuven, 2009). 2013: variety of models; implementation of NQF delayed. At this point, the strengthsandweaknesses of the ongoing European HE reforms are put in the sharpest contrast.
4.2.1 Two cycle system (BA-MA) Two-cycle structure models most commonly implemented,2008/09 (EURYDICE)
4.3 Diversity vs. ‘standardisation’ The Europeanisation process in HE:areconvergence and diversificationparties in a conflict? ‘Harmonisation’ is not ‘standardisation’ or ‘unification’, but “the guiding principleof the orchestra” (Allègre, 1998). The Bologna reforms conceived as an attempt to promote and not abolish diversities. The Tuning project (2001-2008): “convergence and common understanding” do (should) not mean “imposition”. European diversities (cultural, linguistic, institutional, paradigmatic, etc.) are “our richness” and astrength but – at least in the view of non-European student and staff – may at the same timebe alsoobstacles. In this regard, what everyone needs is transparency in diversity.
4.4 Excellence in the European HE Ranking higher education institutions league-table-style: e.g. ARWU, WUR etc., etc. A growing trend! Criticism of methodology – but growing media attention! Position of European HEIs on rankings is ‘not so bad’ – but what do they actually rank? What is ‘excellence’? An ‘excellence of excellence’ is dangerous and against the spirit of academia: it is like striving for ‘the truth about the truth’ (as opposed to ‘the pursuit of the truth’). The process of adapting to the logic of global rankings threats academic excellence (‘uniformisation’). On the other hand, increasing European HE and research co-operation is increasing traditional academic excellence and can be taken as a strength.
4.5 The ‘social dimension’ of the European HE The ‘social dimension’ – evolution of the concept (2001). The idea of equity: the “student body within HE should reflect the diversity of Europe’s populations. […] Each participating country will set measurable targets for widening overall participation and increasing participation of underrepresented groups in HE” (Leuven, 2009). In fact, “student body” today does not reflect “the diversity of Europe’s populations”. – Eurostat: huge differences across Europe (public support, part-time, etc.). The ‘social dimension’ of European higher education is seriously threatened by the deepening economic crises.
4.6 The ‘regional dimension’ of the European HE The term hasn’t appeared within the Bologna Process; yet we need it here. The EHEA is – and will remain – a heterogeneous space: • In economic and political terms; • In cultural terms; • In academic terms. Nothing is wrong with heterogeneous spaces… if they find ways for internal and external co-operation. Yet, within this heterogeneous spacea ‘homogeneous’ HE policy transfer takes place: from ‘centres’ to ‘peripheries’. Instead of adapting their systems to fit to the ‘unity of diversity’, there is a trend to ‘satisfy the desires of Europe’
4.6.1 From a case study onthe Bologna reforms and the Western Balkans “This vague attitude of the European institutions has a whole series of consequences at the national level. This reserved attitude is OK: ‘we will not interfere much; you have freedom, you can do so taking into account your specifics’ etc. But others do not understand it this way. Here, for example: Balkan people [...] haven’t become accustomed to this: ‘Make it as you wish but, nevertheless, take care to be similar to the others or to be able to communicate with the others.’ There was slavery here, when someone told us what to be. Or socialism, when they announced from the centre: ‘It will be like this!’ This does not change overnight. [...] These European initiatives, they are good, but they are not entirely clear to make them understood by the people. [...] They [i.e., European institutions] should be more transparent; they should be more direct” (interview 09; 22/03/2012).
4.6.2 A case study: Perceptions of the Bologna reforms in the Western Balkans “The Bologna Process has contributed importantly to the quality of my institution” – assessments given by decided respondents (by countries and institutions) (CEPS 2012)
5.1 Instead of a conclusion: ‘Euro’ vs. ‘knowledge’? . “The European process has very recently moved some extremely important steps ahead. Relevant as they are, they should not make one forget that Europe is not only that of the Euro, of the banks and the economy: it must be a Europe of knowledge as well. We must strengthen and build upon the intellectual, cultural, social and technical dimensions of our continent. These have to a large extent been shaped by its universities”. Sorbonne Declaration (1998)
5.2 Instead of a conclusion: ‘the sphere of economy’ vs. ‘the role of culture’? . “Our challenge is to build a Europe reaching beyond the sphere of economy to promote sustainable development as a means to meet citizen’s expectations concerning quality of life and cultural and social diversity.” And more: it “is the role of culture in the development of European identity without which the Union would be doomed to be nothing more than a vast free trade area.” Viviane Reding(2002)