European Higher Education Policy

The European Higher Education Area (EHEA)

The 1999 Bologna Declaration was the starting point for a number of reforms aimed at strengthening the competitiveness and attractiveness of European higher education for students and academics from Europe and all around the globe.

To date, 47 countries have signed the Bologna Declaration committing themselves to similar reforms so as to achieve the main Bologna objectives: the introduction of a two-tier system of study programmes (Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees), quality assurance in higher education, and better comparability for easier recognition of degrees.

The higher education ministers of the Bologna signatory states meet regularly to monitor progress and decide on the next steps to be taken. The ministerial meetings are prepared by the Bologna Follow-Up Groups (BFUG) at a national and a European level. The German Rectors’ Conference (HRK) is a member of the German national BFUG, and the HRK President represents the German universities at the ministerial meetings.

Since 1999, the results of the ministerial meetings have broadened the agenda for higher education reform. The concept of qualifications frameworks, with an emphasis on learning outcomes and student-centred learning, ideas about the social dimension of higher education, as well as the concept of lifelong learning have been introduced. The recognition of qualifications, based on reliable quality assurance processes, is now clearly perceived as central to European higher education policies.

In the communiqué from their last meeting at Bucharest (April 2012), the ministers identified three priority areas for the next three years: mobility, employability and quality. They stressed the importance of higher education to Europe’s ability to overcome the current economic crisis.

More information on the Bologna Process, its history and its objectives can be found on the official EHEA website.

From an early stage, the HRK has provided support to German universities in implementing the Bologna Process by hosting a number of BMBF-funded projects. Since 2010, the nexus project has been HRK’s platform for the exchange of concepts and good practice in higher education.