The Bologna Process acknowledges that one of the biggest assets of European higher education is its diversity. The Sorbonne Joint Declaration argues for diversity in the service of society: "we owe our students and our society at large, a higher education system in which they are given the best opportunities to seek and find their own area of excellence." The Prague Communiqué (2001) makes this normative more explicit: "programmes leading to a degree may, and indeed should, have different orientations and various profiles in order to accommodate a diversity of individual, academic and labour market needs." The Leuven/ Louvain-la-Neuve Communiqué (2009) specifies that not only the diversity of study programmes is a response of the higher education institutions to the needs of the society, but the HEI's themselves are responsive to the wider needs of the society through the diversity of their missions.
Coordinating a diverse system requires vision and sensitiveness to subtleties in issuing judgements on the degree in which a higher education institution or a study programme is reaching its societal purpose. In order to overcome the oversimplifying approach "one size fits all", the ministers committed in Leuven/ Louvain-la-Neuve (2009) to "uphold the highly valued diversity of our education systems" in their strive to create a EHEA whose basic principles include quality and transparency, as stated in the Bergen Communiqués (2005). This normative will be realized through public policies which will "fully recognize the value of various missions of higher education, ranging from teaching and research to community services and engagement in social cohesion and cultural development", as explained in the Leuven/ Louvain-la-Neuve Communiqué (2009).
The Bologna Process has always been concerned with making the diversity of the EHEA more transparent. Quality assurance, qualifications framework and recognition, together with the tools designed to facilitate their implementation, such as Diploma Supplement, ECTS and Lisbon Recognition Convention, have contributed substantially to this goal. The ministers noted in Leuven/ Louvain-la-Neuve (2009) that, besides the above mentioned instruments, "there are several initiatives designed to develop mechanisms for providing more detailed information about higher education institutions across the EHEA to make their diversity more transparent". "Such mechanisms, including those helping higher education systems and institutions to identify and compare their respective strengths, should be developed in close consultation with the key stakeholders. These transparency tools need to relate closely to the principles of the Bologna Process, in particular quality assurance and recognition, which will remain our priority, and should be based on comparable data and adequate indicators to describe the diverse profiles of higher education institutions and their programmes."
Transparency tools often referred to include:
- Registers offering comparable information on higher education institutions/study programmes. More...
Over the past year, progress in developing and implementing national qualifications frameworks (NQFs) has allowed more countries to link these to the common reference framework for qualifications, the European Qualifications Framework (EQF).
How far each country has progressed along this road can now easily be seen by clicking on country chapters in Cedefop’s working paper, Analysis and overview of NQF developments in European countries, the fourth annual report Cedefop has prepared on this topic.
This linking process makes it easier for countries to understand one another’s qualifications. As a result, it also eases citizens’ lifelong transitions between learning and working, across sectors, and within the entire European labour market. Some countries also see qualifications frameworks as tools for education reform and institutional change. Full text of the press release. Read more...