Bologna threat to degree

May 20, 2005

Spain's multidisciplinary humanities degree programme is threatened with extinction as the country prepares for the Bologna Process.

In a shake-up of arts courses, 14 language degrees will be merged into four qualifications. History of art will be absorbed into a more general history degree, while the axeing of degrees in regional languages such as Catalan is under consideration. Student numbers have been dropping in Spain since 2000 due to demographic change, and arts have been disproportionately affected. There are now 33,000 fewer students enrolled in arts faculties than ten years ago.

The University Co-ordination Council (CCU) is preparing a draft list of new degrees, due to be introduced from 2007 onwards as part of the Bologna Process. It has recommended that the humanities degree be dropped as it is "not in tune with the labour market".

But lecturers and students argue that multidisciplinary degrees are what Bologna is all about. "Generalist studies with specialisation later on are part of the European Higher Education Area thinking," said Josep Mercadal, a fourth-year student at Barcelona's Pompeu Fabre University.

Figures show that humanities graduates are more employable than single-subject students. In Catalonia, 11.9 per cent of 2004 humanities graduates are unemployed, compared with 16.3 per cent of history graduates.

Humanities students presented a 6,700-signature petition against the move to Maria Antonia Garcia Bernau, Secretary General of the CCU, during a visit to Pompeu Fabra. She said that "final decisions have not been taken".

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