The Bologna Process aims to create a European Higher Education Area by 2010, in which students can choose from a wide and transparent range of high quality courses and benefit from smooth recognition procedures. The Bologna Declaration of June 1999 has put in motion a series of reforms needed to make European Higher Education more compatible and comparable, more competitive and more attractive for Europeans and for students and scholars from other continents. Reform was needed then and reform is still needed today if Europe is to match the performance of the best performing systems in the world, notably the United States and Asia.
The three overarching objectives of the Bologna process have been from the start: introduction of the three cycle system (bachelor/master/doctorate), quality assurance and recognition of qualifications and periods of study.
In the Leuven Communiqué of 2009 the Ministers identified these priorities for the coming decade:
Every second year, Ministers responsible for higher education in the 46 Bologna countries meet to measure progress and set priorities for action. After Bologna (1999), they met in Prague (2001), Berlin (2003) and Bergen (2005), London (2007) and Leuven/Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium (April 2009).
After more than ten years of intensive reforms, the Ministers met on 11/12 March 2010 in Budapest and Vienna to officially launch the European Higher Education Area, as decided back in 1999.
Steered by European Ministers responsible for higher education, the Bologna process, is a collective effort of public authorities, universities, teachers and students, together with stakeholder associations, employers, quality assurance agencies, international organisations and institutions. Although the process goes beyond the EU's borders, it is closely connected with EU policies and programmes. For the EU, the Bologna Process is part of a broader effort in the drive for a Europe of knowledge which includes: