http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/site/york/logo-main.gifA new Academy briefing paper has been published which identifies challenges to and opportunities for UK higher education institutions in the Bologna Process and the European Higher Education Area (EHEA.)
Written by Simon Sweeney, a UK Bologna expert, National Teaching Fellow, and senior lecturer in International Business and Governance at Sheffield Hallam University, the paper aims to help UK HEIs to engage in the spirit and application of Bologna, and identifies ways in which students, staff and HEIs might benefit from active commitment. It also provides an overview of the principles underlying the Bologna Process and the EHEA. “In the European and global context for UK HE, it becomes increasingly important to demonstrate an ideological and practical commitment to educational and cultural mobility, both inward and outward, and for students and staff,” comments Dr Rachel Segal, Assistant Director at the HEA.   “The predicted increase in transnational education also presents some real challenges and opportunities for UK HEIs. "At the Academy, we work with higher education institutions to improve the student learning experience. The context for that experience is broadening. We hope that this paper helps HEIs to assess both the practicalities and benefits of Bologna.”
Mr Sweeney outlines the ways in which the UK complies with key Bologna mechanisms and frameworks; for example, it has already established:
* the three-cycle framework;
* quality assurance;
* awards based on credit accumulation, and credits based on learning outcomes;
* articulation between UK qualification frameworks and the Bologna Qualification Framework of the European Higher Education Area;
* a commitment to lifelong learning.
But, the paper asks, is compliance sufficient, or is there a need to engage more actively with the mechanisms and the spirit of Bologna? “There is a tendency in the UK to diverge from the norms and expectations of Bologna,” writes Mr Sweeney. “The introduction of fast-track degrees, major increases in fees, differences in Masters-level provision, reduced contact time, and access to doctoral study directly from a first-cycle qualification raise important questions that may threaten the perceived international competitiveness of UK higher education.”
 There is evidence that study abroad and/or work placement brings many benefits to students, the paper notes,  including a better degree classification, improved key skill competences, enhanced confidence and potentially better employment prospects, as employers look favourably on graduates with what is perceived to be added value in relation to potential recruitment. Mobility also provides institutional benefits such as:
* enhanced attractiveness of the university, adding value to the university brand and reputation;
* strengthening international institutional partnerships;
* building collaborative research opportunities;
* internationalising staff experience – a key element in staff professional development;
* integration with European educational and professional communities and networking;
* combating institutional and particularly departmental insularity.
Read the full report, Bologna Process: Responding to the post-2010 challenge, here.