Criteria for Membership in the Bologna Process

In the Bergen Ministerial Conference, the criteria for membership in the Berlin Communiqué have been adapted as follows:

Countries party to the European Cultural Convention shall be eligible for membership of the European Higher Education Area provided that they at the same time declare their willingness to pursue and implement the objectives of the Bologna Process in their own systems of higher education.

Conditions and actions required for participation in the Bologna Process can serve as a guidance to applicant countries. This document aims to carry out this goal in a fair and transparent manner, and bring together the principles and objectives of the Bologna Process.


- International mobility of students and staff
- Autonomous universities
- Student participation in the administration of higher education
- Public responsibility for higher education
- The social dimension of the Bologna Process


1.1 International Mobility of Students and Academics

“Promotion of removal of all obstacles to the free movement of students, teachers, researchers and administrative staff” (Bologna Declaration) “Ministers reaffirmed that efforts to promote mobility must be continued to enable students, teachers, researchers and administrative staff to benefit from the richness of the European Higher Education Area including its democratic values, diversity of cultures and languages and the diversity of the higher education systems.” (Prague Communique)


1.2. Autonomous Universities

European higher education institutions, for their part, have accepted the challenge and taken up a main role in constructing the European area of higher education, also in the wake of the fundamental principles laid down in the Bologna Magna Charta Universitatum of 1988. This is of the highest importance, given that Universities' independence and autonomy ensure that higher education and research systems continuously adapt to changing needs, society's demands and advances in scientific knowledge.” (Bologna Declaration) “Ministers accept that institutions need to be empowered to take decisions on their internal organization and administration.” (Berlin Communiqué)


1.3. Student Participation in the Administration of Higher Education

Ministers affirmed that students should participate in and influence the organization and content of education at universities and other higher education institutions.” (Prague Communiqué) “Ministers note the constructive participation of student organizations in the Bologna Process and underline the necessity to include the students continuously and at an early stage in further activities. Students are full partners in higher education governance. Ministers note that national legal measures for ensuring student participation are largely in place throughout the European Higher Education Area. They also call on institutions and student organizations to identify ways of increasing actual student involvement in higher education governance.” (Berlin Communiqué)


1.4. Higher Education as a Public Responsibility

Ministers supported the idea that higher education should be considered a public good and is and will remain a public responsibility… ” (Prague Communiqué)


1.5. The Social Dimension of the Bologna Process

“Ministers reaffirm the importance of the social dimension of the Bologna Process. The need to increase competitiveness must be balanced with the objective of improving the social characteristics of the European Higher Education Area, aiming at strengthening social cohesion and reducing social and gender inequalities both at national and at European level.” (Berlin Communiqué)
Objectives of the Bologna Process are summarized under 10 action lines. All applicants must achieve, together with the members, the common objectives that were defined in the Bologna Declaration and completed by Prague and Berlin Communiqués, by 2010. There are also three intermediate objectives set for 2005.


2.1. Bologna Action Lines

There were six action lines in the Bologna Declaration:

1. Adoption of a system of easily readable and comparable degrees
2. Adoption of a system essentially based on two main cycles
3. Establishment of a system of credits
4. Promotion of mobility
5. Promotion of European co-operation in quality assurance
6. Promotion of the European dimension in higher education

Three more action lines have been added in the Prague Communiqué:
7. Lifelong learning
8. Higher Education Institutions and Students
9. Promoting the attractiveness of the European Higher Education Area

The last action line was added in the Berlin Communique:
10. Doctoral studies and the synergy between the European higher Education Area (EHEA) and European Research Area (ERA)

Various action lines of the Bologna Process were reflected in the 2003-2005 Work Schedule of the Bologna Follow-Up Group. The social dimension of the Bologna Process can be seen as a comprehensive or cross-cutting action line.

All members of the Bologna Process were asked to produce a national report before the Bergen Ministerial Conference. Potential members were asked to produce a report in a similar format. In Berlin, Ministers defined three intermediate priorities: quality assurance, the two-cycle degree system and recognition of degrees and periods of studies. The achievement of these goals by the 40 Member States is the subject of a Stocktaking exercise. While potential members will not be part of the stocktaking, they are required to indicate the extent to which existing (or planned) reforms of their higher education systems meet the same goals. The specific targets are as follows:


3.1 Quality Assurance

The primary responsibility for quality assurance should lie with the institutions. The national quality assurance system should include: * A definition of the responsibilities of the bodies and institutions involved; * Evaluation of programs or institutions (including internal assessment, external review, participation of students and the publication of results); * A system of accreditation, certification or comparable procedures.


3.2 Two-Cycle Degree System

A national degree system for higher education based on two main cycles should have been introduced. Access to the second cycle shall require successful completion of first cycle studies lasting a minimum of three years. The degree awarded after the first cycle should also be relevant to the labor market. he second cycle should lead to the master's and/or doctoral degree.


3.3 Recognition of degrees and periods of studies

In terms of the adoption of a system of easily readable and comparable degrees, members are encouraged to ratify the Lisbon Recognition Convention. Allied to this, members are committed that every student graduating should receive the Diploma Supplement automatically and free of charge, in a widely spoken European language.

Potential members should send an application for membership to the Minister responsible for Higher Education in the Host Country of the next Ministerial Conference, with a copy to the BFUG Chair. The application, which should be signed by the (national) Minister responsible for higher education, should declare their commitment to pursue and implement the principles and objectives of the Bologna Process in their own systems of higher education. The application should be complemented by a report, detailing the current higher education policies of the country in the light of the Bologna Process and outlining what reforms they plan to undertake to meet the goals of the Process. The relevant template identifies headlines and key questions which should be addressed in the context of this report.

When an application is received, the BFUG Chair and Secretariat will verify that it satisfies the prescribed procedures. A confirmation of receipt will be sent to the applicant country. At the same time, the BFUG will be informed of the application. The applicant country will then be invited to seminars and other events in the Bologna Process.