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Procedure : 2015/2039(INI)
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Tuesday, 28 April 2015 - Strasbourg
Implementation of the Bologna process

European Parliament resolution of 28 April 2015 on follow-up on the implementation of the Bologna Process (2015/2039(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 165 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and in particular Article 26 thereof,

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and in particular Article 14 thereof,

–  having regard to the Sorbonne Joint Declaration on harmonisation of the architecture of the European higher education system by the four Ministers in charge for France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, signed in Paris on 25 May 1998 (Sorbonne Declaration)(1),

–  having regard to the Joint Declaration signed in Bologna on 19 June 1999 by the ministers of education from 29 European countries (Bologna Declaration)(2),

–  having regard to the Communiqué issued by the Conference of European Ministers responsible for Higher Education held in Leuven and Louvain-la-Neuve on 28 and 29 April 2009(3),

–  having regard to the Budapest-Vienna Declaration of 12 March 2010 adopted by the Education Ministers from 47 countries, which officially launched the European Higher Education Area (EHEA)(4),

–  having regard to the communiqué issued by the Ministerial Conference and Third Bologna Policy Forum held in Bucharest on 26 and 27 April 2012(5),

–  having regard to the Mobility Strategy 2020 for the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) adopted by the EHEA Ministerial Conference held in Bucharest on 26 and 27 April 2012 (6),

–  having regard to Directive 2013/55/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 2013 amending Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications and Regulation (EU) No 1024/2012 on administrative cooperation through the Internal Market Information System (‘the IMI Regulation’)(7),

–  having regard to the recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 September 2005 to facilitate the issue by the Member States of uniform short-stay visas for researchers from third countries travelling within the Community for the purpose of carrying out scientific research(8),

–  having regard to the recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 February 2006 on further European cooperation in quality assurance in higher education(9),

–  having regard to the recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2008 on the establishment of the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning (EQF-LLL)(10),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 12 May 2009 on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (‘ET 2020’)(11),

–  having regard to the conclusions of the Council and of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council, of 26 November 2009 on developing the role of education in a fully-functioning knowledge triangle(12),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 11 May 2010 on the internationalisation of higher education(13),

–  having regard to the Council recommendation of 28 June 2011 on policies to reduce early school leaving(14),

–  having regard to the Council recommendation of 28 June 2011 entitled ‘Youth on the Move – Promoting the learning mobility of young people’(15),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 10 May 2006 entitled ‘Delivering on the modernisation agenda for universities: education, research and innovation’ (COM(2006)0208),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 3 March 2010 entitled ‘Europe 2020 – A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2010)2020),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 26 August 2010 on a Digital Agenda for Europe (COM(2010)0245),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 20 September 2011 entitled ‘Supporting growth and jobs – an agenda for the modernisation of Europe’s higher education systems’ (COM(2011)0567),

–  having regard to the report entitled ‘Higher Education in Europe 2009: Developments in the Bologna Process’ (Eurydice, European Commission, 2009)(16),

–  having regard to the report entitled ‘Focus on Higher Education in Europe 2010: The Impact of the Bologna Process’ (Eurydice, European Commission, 2010)(17),

–  having regard to the report entitled ‘The European Higher Education Area in 2012: Bologna Process Implementation Report’ (Eurydice, European Commission, 2012)(18),

–  having regard to the 2007 Eurobarometer survey on higher education reform among teaching professionals(19),

–  having regard to the 2009 Eurobarometer survey on higher education reform among students(20),

–  having regard to the Eurostat publication of 16 April 2009 entitled ‘The Bologna Process in Higher Education in Europe – Key indicators on the social dimension and mobility’(21),

–  having regard to the Final report of the International Conference on Funding of Higher Education held in Yerevan, Armenia, 8-9 September 2011(22),

–  having regard to its resolution of 23 September 2008 on the Bologna Process and student mobility(23),

–  having regard to its resolution of 20 May 2010 on ‘University-business dialogue: a new partnership for the modernisation of Europe’s universities’(24),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 March 2012 on the contribution of the European institutions to the consolidation and progress of the Bologna Process(25),

–  having regard to the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI)(26),

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Culture and Education (A8-0121/2015),

A.  whereas the importance of the Bologna Process in the current economic situation should lie in pursuing the goals of developing the highest possible level of knowledge and innovation for citizens through broad access to education and its constant updating, and whereas this should be reflected in the revision of the Europe 2020 strategy, and in the implementation of the Juncker Investment Plan for Europe;

B.  whereas analyses show that almost every third employer in EU has problems when looking for appropriately skilled employees; whereas from the viewpoint of the goal of decreasing the EU’s skills mismatch (the gap between an individual’s job skills and the demands of the job market) the Bologna reform so far has not been very successful; whereas the skills mismatch has become a central challenge for Europe, affecting all areas of society, from the productivity and efficiency of businesses to the current and future welfare of youth;

C.  whereas the youth unemployment problem has not improved much since the beginning of the crisis in 2008; whereas at the end of 2014 there were around 5 million unemployed young people aged under 25 in the EU;

D.  whereas, as having been said by a philosopher, ‘the search for truth and beauty should be the hallmark for Universities’, in addition to their duty of preparing new professionals, scientists, engineers, teachers, doctors, politicians and citizens;

E.  whereas it is important to consider universities as the real main actors of the Bologna Process, beyond the support roles in terms of coordination, regulation and resources of regional and national institutions;

F.  whereas this intergovernmental initiative, carried out in cooperation with academia, has entailed efforts to provide a common European response to serious problems in many countries, but these have been insufficient;

G.  whereas the real purpose of the Bologna Process is to support mobility and internationalisation, as well as to ensure compatibility and comparability in standards and quality of different higher educational systems while respecting the autonomy of universities and thus contributing to the creation of an authentically democratic European area that offers equal opportunities for citizens;

H.  whereas an assessment is needed of the progress made over the past 15 years that takes into account both the success story in terms of intraregional cooperation and the persistent problems encountered and the uneven extent of achievement of the stated goals;

I.  whereas while in most countries the Bologna Process has been guiding and motivating educational reforms, in some countries it might be perceived as a bureaucratic burden owing to miscommunication and a lack of understanding of its true vision;

J.  whereas it is important to acknowledge the pan-European character of the Bologna Process, as well as the involvement of all its actors, including students, teachers, researchers and non-teaching staff;

K.  whereas continuous and increased financial support for education, training, including vocational training, knowledge and research is crucial, especially in this period of economic crisis;

L.  whereas in this ever-changing context there is a need to reaffirm the political commitment underlying the Bologna Process and the involvement in the realisation of the process of the European institutions, national governments and all other relevant stakeholders;

Role of the Bologna Process

1.  Notes that education and research are one of the main pillars of our society when it comes to promoting skills development, growth and jobs creation; underlines that greater investment in education is crucial to effectively tackling poverty, social inequalities and unemployment, notably youth unemployment, and fostering social inclusion;

2.  Notes that the Bologna Process could help to tackle the skills mismatch in the EU if it enabled students to acquire and develop the competences required by the labour market, and that by doing this it could achieve the important goal of enhancing the employability of graduates;

3.  Is aware of the role the Bologna Process has in the creation of a Europe of Knowledge; highlights that the dissemination of knowledge, education and research is a key element of the Europe 2020 strategy and contributes to fostering European citizenship; also highlights, however, the need for consultation within the higher education community (teachers, students and non‑teaching staff) in order to understand the opposition to reforms linked with the Bologna Process, as well as the need to guarantee public education that is free and accessible to all and that responds to the needs of society;

4.  Notes that the Bologna reforms resulted in the launching of a European Higher Education Area (EHEA), and have allowed achievements in the past 15 years in making higher education structures more comparable, increasing mobility, providing quality assurance systems and in the recognition of diplomas, improving the quality of educational systems as well as the attractiveness of higher education in Europe;

5.  Notes that there is still much work to be done in the Bologna Process in the area of adjusting educational systems to labour market needs and improving overall employability and competitiveness, as well as the attractiveness of higher education in Europe; notes that the European higher education institutions (HEIs) should be able to react quickly to the economic, cultural, scientific and technological changes in the modern society in order to fully use their potential to encourage growth, employability and social cohesion;

6.  Notes the goals for the coming years, and the national priorities for actions to be taken by 2015, as outlined by the 2012 EHEA Ministerial Conference in Bucharest, as well as its recommendations for the 2020 EHEA mobility strategy, advocating the creation of new observatories, new approaches to the various European university communities, and new systems for integrating the members of those university communities into the reform process for this Plan;

Priorities and challenges

7.  Calls on EHEA countries to implement common agreed reforms aimed at hastening the achievement of the Bologna Process goals, and strengthening the credibility of the EHEA; encourages support for countries encountering difficulties in implementing these reforms; supports, in this regard, the creation of broad partnerships between countries, regions, and relevant stakeholders;

8.  Calls on the Member States to further improve and update the assessment of higher educational establishments, against the standards previously set by education systems at international level and rewarding excellence with a view to the advancement of knowledge, research and science;

9.  Highlights the importance of preserving the diversity of teaching, including the diversity of languages; urges the Member States to increase student grants and ensure that they are easily accessible;

10.  Points out the need to make further efforts to develop the EHEA, and to build on the progress made in pursuing its objectives and in coordination with the European Area of Education and Training, the European Area of Lifelong Learning (LLL) and the European Research Area;

11.  Calls on all stakeholders concerned with the implementation of the Bologna Process to strengthen quality assurance in order to achieve a European higher education area that improves its attractiveness as a reference of academic excellence worldwide;

12.  Calls on the Member States, the EHEA countries and the EU as a whole to foster public understanding of and support for the Bologna Process, including action at grassroots level to achieve more effective and dynamic involvement in reaching its goals;

13.  Points out that the Commission, as a member of the Bologna Process, has an important role in developing the EHEA, and calls on it to further its role in reinvigorating the Process and accelerating the efforts to achieve the stated goals;

14.  Points out the need to include quality of education and research in the tertiary sector in the stated goals; considers that one of the indicators of fulfilment of those goals would be increasing the employability of graduates, which is also an objective of the Europe 2020 strategy;

15.  Calls for a dialogue to be pursued between governments, higher education institutions (HEIs), and research institutes in order to target, maximise, and make more efficient use of available funds and seek new and diverse models for funding to complement public funding; also stresses the importance of Horizon 2020 in driving collaborative research projects amongst European HEIs, and is concerned at the continued attempts to cut its funding while other areas of the budget remain unchallenged;

16.  Calls on the governments to improve the efficiency of use of public funding in education and to respect the EU headline target of investing 3 % of Union GDP in R&D by 2020; stresses that ambitious funding of education and research is necessary, as they constitute one of the key tools for ensuring access to quality education for all, as well as fighting the economic crisis and unemployment;

17.  Notes the potential funding opportunities for higher education, vocational education and training that should be provided by the EFSI; expresses its deep concern at the planned cuts in funds for Horizon 2020 that are directly linked to research and education, in favour of the EFSI;

18.  Warns that any cuts in Horizon 2020 would undoubtedly affect the full implementation of the Bologna Process, and therefore urges the Commission to withdraw any such proposal;

19.  Encourages both top-down and bottom-up approaches, involving the whole academic community and the social partners, and calls for the political engagement and cooperation of EHEA ministers in developing a common strategy for the achievement of the Bologna reforms;

20.  Calls for the further development of study programmes with clearly defined objectives, providing the knowledge and mix of skills, both general and professional, that are needed not only to prepare graduates for the requirements of the labour market and build their capacity for LLL, but also and crucially to integrate citizens; supports the full implementation of the European framework for the certification of professional qualifications;

21.  Stresses the role of the STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and their importance for society, the economy and the employability of graduates;

22.  Calls for the correct implementation of the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) and the Diploma Supplement in the EHEA, as key tools linked to student workload and learning outcomes, in order to facilitate mobility and help students compile their academic and extracurricular achievements;

23.  Stresses the importance of guaranteeing the mutual recognition and compatibility of academic degrees for strengthening the system of quality assurance at European level and in all countries that have joined the EHEA, in line with the revised version of the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance (ESG) in the European Higher Education Area; invites all EHEA countries and their respective quality assurance agencies to join the European networks for quality assurance (ENQA and EQAR);

24.  Encourages the Bologna Process partners, and especially the Commission, to regularly measure the competences and skills mismatch at the moment of entry of graduates into the world of work;

25.  Stresses the importance of the Europe 2020 strategy goal according to which 40 % of 30‑34-year-olds should have completed tertiary education and have gained the appropriate skills and competencies to find fulfilling employment;

26.  Stresses the value of Qualifications Frameworks (QFs) to improve transparency, and calls on all the Bologna countries to make their national QFs compatible with those of the EHEA and with European QFs;

27.  Stresses that the National Qualifications Frameworks (NQFs) in many Member States still need to be adjusted to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) as well as to the ESG; notes that many NQFs are still not registered in the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR);

28.  Notes that the mobility of students, teachers, researchers and non-teaching staff is one of the main priorities of the Bologna Process; calls on the Member States to increase opportunities for and quality of mobility, and highlights the need to strengthen the implementation of the Mobility Strategy 2020 for EHEA and also to reach the quantitative target of 20 % for student mobility by 2020; in this regard, stresses the crucial role of the Erasmus+ Programme and Horizon 2020, and the importance of ensuring their smooth and efficient implementation and promotion; stresses that study grants pertaining to Erasmus+ should be exempt from taxation and social levies;

29.  Calls for the gradual incorporation of student mobility into official university curricula;

30.  Emphasises the need to involve appropriate numbers of students and teaching staff in the fields of art and music in EU mobility programmes;

31.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to include European and international partnership and mobility arrangements among the criteria for ranking universities and further education establishments;

32.  Notes the central role of HEIs in promoting mobility and producing graduates and researchers with knowledge and skills enabling them to succeed through employability in the global economy;

33.  Calls on the Member States, the EU and the EHEA to strengthen mobility by fostering language learning, removing administrative obstacles, providing adequate financial supports mechanism and guaranteeing the transferability of grants, scholarships and credits; notes that mobility continues to be less accessible for students from less wealthy backgrounds;

34.  Emphasises, with regard to both the design and the delivery of programmes, the shift in educational paradigm towards a more student-centred approach that includes the personal development of students; underlines the importance of students’ participation in higher education governance;

35.  Underlines that study programmes should focus on long-term market demands; stresses also that employability means that students should master a wide range of different competences preparing them for the labour market and equipping them for lifelong learning; encourages in this regard active dialogue and national and crossborder cooperation on programmes and work placements between the university community and business, which could help counter the economic crisis, stimulate economic growth, and contribute to a knowledge-based society and thus provide opportunities in a wider social sense; encourages HEIs to be open to transdisciplinary studies, the creation of university research institutes and collaboration with diverse partners;

36.  Stresses the need to provide broad opportunities for LLL, and for complementary forms of learning such as non-formal and informal education which are crucial for soft skills development;

37.  Calls for efforts to strengthen the link between higher education and research and innovation, including through the promotion of research-based education, and highlights the Horizon 2020 Programme as a key funding mechanism for boosting research; calls for better synchronisation of actions supporting the Bologna Process such as the Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+ programmes;

38.  Calls for more flexible learning paths that include joint degree programmes and interdisciplinary studies, and that support innovation, creativity, vocational education and training (VET), dual education, and entrepreneurship in higher education, and calls for the potential offered by new technologies, digitalisation and ICTs to be explored in order to enrich learning and teaching, as well as to further develop a wide range of skills and new models for learning, teaching and assessment;

39.  Calls on HEIs, public administrations, social partners and enterprises to lead an ongoing dialogue facilitating and enhancing employability; stresses, in this regard, the need to focus the discussion on the unused potential of higher education in terms of stimulating growth and employment; calls on EHEA countries and HEIs to enhance cooperation in order to ensure quality traineeships and apprenticeships and to strengthen mobility in this context; stresses that stakeholders should cooperate better to raise initial qualifications and renew a skilled workforce, as well as to improve the provision, accessibility and quality of guidance on careers and employment; considers, moreover, that work placements within study programmes and on‑the‑job learning should be further encouraged;

40.  Stresses that it is necessary to let recognised refugees access all institutions in the EHEA that can enable them to build up an independent life via education; furthermore stresses that residence permits for graduates looking for a qualified professional activity should be further liberalised; stresses that the efforts for mutual recognition for recognised refugees should be reinforced, especially under the aspect of mobility for such students;

41.  Stresses that the Member States, and all HEIs that have joined the EHEA, are responsible for providing quality education that responds to societal and economic challenges, and emphasises the need for their close cooperation in order to reach the goals set within the Bologna Process;

42.  Notes that only a few Member States have created a comprehensive strategy for including students from less-favoured socio-economic backgrounds in higher education and thus tackling the problem of the so‑called social filter;

43.  Calls for more involvement of secondary school teachers in the Bologna Process in terms of promoting quality in teacher training and professional mobility, in order to meet the new educational and training demands of a knowledge-based society and contribute to improved student performance;

44.  Emphasises the role of education and its quality and teaching mission in shaping future generations and contributing to wider social and economic cohesion as well as to job creation, higher competitiveness and growth potential; calls in this regard for better recognition of the teaching profession;

45.  Calls for economic and social efforts to improve social inclusion by providing fair and open access to quality education for all, by facilitating recognition of academic and professional qualifications, as well as study periods abroad and prior learning, soft skills programmes and non-formal and informal learning, and by providing relevant education to a diversified student population through LLL;

46.  Highlights the social dimension of the Bologna Process; calls for action to target increased participation by under‑represented and disadvantaged groups, also through international mobility programmes;

47.  Stresses the role of educational mobility in intercultural learning, and that the Bologna Process should take active steps to foster students’ intercultural knowledge and respect;

48.  Calls for efforts to further develop a strategy for the external dimension of the EHEA, through cooperation with other regions of the world, in order to increase its competitiveness and attractiveness in a global setting, improve the provision of information on the EHEA, strengthen cooperation based on partnership, intensify policy dialogue and further recognise qualifications;

49.  Emphasises the need to enhance data collection among EHEA countries in order to better identify and address the Bologna Process challenges;

50.  Stresses the importance of the next EHEA Ministerial Conference, to be held in Yerevan in May 2015, in terms of undertaking an objective and critical review of both progress and setbacks in achieving the priorities set out for 2012-2015, with a view to boosting and further consolidating the EHEA with the full support of the Union;

o   o

51.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

(7) OJ L 354, 28.12.2013, p. 132.
(8) OJ L 289, 3.11.2005, p. 23.
(9) OJ L 64, 4.3.2006, p. 60.
(10) OJ C 111, 6.5.2008, p. 1.
(11) OJ C 119, 28.5.2009, p. 2.
(12) OJ C 302, 12.12.2009, p. 3.
(13) OJ C 135, 26.5.2010, p. 12.
(14) OJ C 191, 1.7.2011, p. 1.
(15) OJ C 199, 7.7.2011, p. 1.
(23) OJ C 8 E, 14.1.2010, p. 18.
(24) OJ C 161 E, 31.5.2011, p. 95.
(25) OJ C 251 E, 31.8.2013, p. 24.
(26) Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Fund for Strategic Investments and amending Regulations (EU) No 1291/2013 and (EU) No 1316/2013 (COM(2015)0010).

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