The bologna process: everything you wanted to know about it

Education in most European universities, which is increasingly attracting students from different countries, is conducted in accordance with the Bologna Process. What is it and why is it promising to be a university student in a country that has signed the Bologna Declaration?

Charles University, Prague

Charles University, Prague

The Bologna Process is a concept adopted in a single learning space for the leading European countries that signed the Bologna Declaration in 1999.

As of 2020, the Bologna Process brings together students from 48 countries and is open for new members to join.

The stages of education in India are mostly in accordance with the Bologna Process and are divided into Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degrees.

However, it should be noted that the length of education at each level in India differs depending on the specialization, although a master’s degree almost everywhere means a two-year education.

A common learning space is being created based on the six pillars of the 1999 Bologna Declaration.

  • To adopt a system of academic degrees that will be comparable between institutions, and introduce a diploma supplement that will list all the courses a graduate has taken during his or her studies. It will be easier for a young professional to find a job after graduation.

Let’s look at an example. A student, his name is Ratam, studies computer science and gets a bachelor’s degree in Germany, one of the countries participating in the Bologna Process, but does not want to stay there and goes to Italy. There he can easily find a job, because his diploma is recognized (because the Bologna Process also works in this country) and employers will have no doubts that Ratam is an “IT person” with a good education.

  • To introduce two cycles of study – an undergraduate program and a graduate program.

Ratam can get a Bachelor’s degree in Germany, and then, after working for a few months, decide to continue in Italy, but already on the Master’s program. In this case, he will not have to take any additional exams, except for the entrance exams to the Master’s program. 

  • To introduce a special points system – Credit Transfer System (ECTS or European Credit Transfer System). Each academic discipline in the program “weighs” a certain number of points – the so-called credits.

To be transferred to the next course or allowed to pass state exams Ratam must collect a certain number of points. Knowing this number, he can choose subjects so as not to go crazy with stress during exams and at the same time to study exactly those disciplines that he is interested in.

  • To create the most comfortable conditions for students and teachers, so that they can gain experience and knowledge in other European universities.

While studying, Ratam can spend a couple of semesters at a foreign university as a regular student, for example in the Erasmus program. The credits he earns for the courses taken will be counted toward his “home” university, as long as the majors or areas of study overlap. When he returns home, he will not have to “make up for lost time” – he will just continue his studies. Such features of the Bologna Process will allow Ratam to get precious experience of studying abroad: practice of a foreign language, new friends, acquaintance to a new culture and mentality, possible prospects of employment.

  • To build the educational system so that the criteria and methodologies at different universities are comparable. 

Remember that Ratam decided to get a Master’s degree, but at an Italian university? So, in the course of his studies and internships, he will be able to apply all the knowledge he gained at the German university without fear that he will not be understood or that he will be considered outdated. And his studies will be evaluated according to approximately the same criteria that were used to evaluate him during his Bachelor’s program.

  • To promote international student projects in every possible way, to support interaction between universities, including research. 

In the process of learning, Ratam can take part in the development of a new mobile app. And students from Italy, Germany, France, Australia, and, say, Argentina will gather for this.

Let’s summarize.

What are the advantages of the Bologna Process?

  • Higher education becomes more accessible. A student can be born in an Indian village and go to study in Paris. 
  • A student can move from one university to another, change the country of study, and do an internship without losing any points or time. Naturally, we are only talking about countries that have joined the Bologna Process.  
  • A student can study the subjects he or she is really interested in. Thus, he will not lose interest in his chosen specialty, but on the contrary, will strengthen it. 
  • During studying, a student can set his own limits.

Let’s say our Ratam needs to get 150 points-credits to be admitted to the State Examination and to defend his diploma. But Ratam is a capable guy and has a brilliant command of time-management skills. During the three years of his Bachelor’s degree, he managed to earn not 150, but 200 points. The list of courses taken will be listed in the appendix to the diploma. Who do you think will be given preference when applying for a job, all other things being equal: Ratam, with his 200 points, or Ravi, who has scored the minimum required number of points? 

  • There is an emphasis on gaining professional and practical skills during the study process.

Our student Ratam will not have to listen to boring theories, which have nothing to do with reality. He will be able to immediately apply the knowledge he has received at the university in practice. 

  • Higher education has clear standards.

Ratam clearly understands what and when he needs to do in order to get the coveted diploma.

Of course, there are also disadvantages to this approach to education.

  • The ability to set your own schedule, choose your own subjects, and set the dates for exams is suitable for organized individuals. For some, it gives them a sense of false freedom. Students begin to postpone everything to the last minute, to skip lectures and seminars. The result is not hard to predict. 
  • Under the Bologna Process, many entrance exams are tests where you have to choose the right answer. This does not allow you to get an idea of the true level of training of the student. After all, the material for some tests can simply be rote. 
  • The Bachelor’s degree is sometimes seen as an intermediate step in the higher education process – there is also a Master’s degree. 
  • Since higher education is becoming more and more accessible thanks to the Bologna Process, competition for state-funded places is constantly growing.
Alexandra Baranova 29 October 2021

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