Backing Bologna

May 11, 2007

As president of the European University Association, which has more than 800 university members in 46 countries, I am glad to see that the Bologna Process is generating discussion and debate in the UK ("Boring image is holding back Bologna", May 4).

However, while the select committee may rightly be concerned about the opaque use of the English language in European processes, universities are far from "being held back" in this reform.

Bologna, although a voluntary process underpinned neither by a treaty nor by any new bureaucracy, has produced great change in higher education in a short space of time, shattering myths that the sector is slow to respond to new societal demands.

Bologna is increasingly being driven forward by higher education institutions and students, rather than by governments, and the EUA's recent "Trends V" report shows that the vast majority of institutions are now working to create a common space for European higher education.

No doubt, few ministers who gathered in Bologna in June 1999 to sign the declaration imagined they were setting in motion a reform movement that would have such dramatic impact and lead to a European higher education area by 2010.

Yet this is now within our grasp, and it is refreshing to see that UK universities are engaging very positively and actively with their partner institutions across the Continent to realise this European ambition.

Georg Winckler
European University Association

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