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Understanding The European Bologna Process

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Convergence of Quality Assurance Systems Around the Globe

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Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1364.1 - 11.1364.9



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Paper Authors


Mike Murphy

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The author is a director of DIT and dean of the Faculty of Engineering. DIT is Ireland's largest third level institution, with over 20,000 students.

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Michael Dyrenfurth Purdue University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Understanding the European Bologna Process

Abstract - This paper describes the European Bologna process, provides a ‘mid-term’ review of its implementation status and discusses its possible positive and negative impacts on US – European links in the fields of engineering and technology education. The first section of this paper describes the meaning and rationale behind each of the Bologna objectives, and why there is a need to establish a European area of higher education. It also comments on how these objectives are interpreted within educational institutions. The second section provides a mid-term report on the implementation status within European universities, focussed primarily on engineering and technology education. The third section of this paper describes the issues associated with successfully implementing Bologna in engineering and technology education. These include critical issues such as degree structure, how educational institutions are addressing the two-cycle requirement, the employability of first cycle graduates, and quality enhancement at both an institutional and a national level. The final section outlines the implications and impacts for US – European institutional co-operation and links, particularly in the area of student exchange.


To understand the Bologna Declaration and the resultant Bologna Process, it is necessary to consider the thinking within the European Union that led to the Declaration. A reasonable point at which to begin is that in May 1998, Ministers of Education from France, Italy, Germany and Great Britain, signed a common Declaration in Sorbonne that aimed to “harmonise the architecture of the European higher education system”. [1] The aim of this Sorbonne Declaration was to encourage the development of a common educational frame of reference that would improve the comparability of degrees, and thereby facilitate students’ mobility and also, importantly, their employability. This Sorbonne Declaration effectively began a debate on the establishment of a European higher education architecture; a debate that led to the agreement and signing of the Bologna Declaration in June 1999 by twenty nine ministers of education or their representatives. Subsequently, the signatories to the Bologna process have grown to forty five participating countries.

The Bologna Declaration is quite simple: it is a pledge by those countries to coordinate their policies to reform the structures of their higher education systems in a way that will facilitate their convergence. But it is not intended as a mechanism to standardise European higher education. [2] In theory, principles of autonomy and diversity are respected for each country. There is a recognition that, in spite of differences, European higher education systems are facing common internal and external challenges and thus the Bologna Declaration (now often referred to colloquially as “Bologna”) reflects a search for a common European answer to common European problems.

Murphy, M., & Dyrenfurth, M. (2006, June), Understanding The European Bologna Process Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--755

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