The Bologna Process and its Impact in Europe: It's So Much More Than Degree Changes

Laurel Terry


The Bologna Process is a massive, multi-year project designed to create the European Higher Education Area by the year 2010. It began approximately ten years ago when four European Union (EU) countries signed a relatively vague declaration. It has now grown to forty-six countries, including all of the EU Member States and nineteen non-EU countries. The Bologna Process countries have agreed on ten action lines for restructuring European higher education. These action lines are nothing short of revolutionary - they address everything from adoption of a three-cycle degree system (e.g., bachelor-master's-doctorate degrees), European-wide quality assurance efforts, mobility of higher education students and staff, recognition in one European country of studies undertaken in another European country and the suitability of education for the marketplace. In 2007, the Bologna Process members formally acknowledged the global setting of their efforts. Because of the number of countries participating in the Bologna Process, its ambitious goals, and its demonstrated commitment to achieving those goals, the Bologna Process is an extremely significant development that will be important not only in Europe but elsewhere in the world. An earlier article by this author (57 J. Legal Ed. 237) briefly addressed the implications of the Bologna Process for U.S. legal education. This comprehensive article is designed to provide one stop shopping for information about the Bologna Process so that the reader can learn about all of its initiatives and action lines. Although many have heard about the degree change aspects of the Bologna Process, it is a much more comprehensive initiative. This article covers developments through the May 2007 London Ministerial meeting, but should also provide the groundwork for understanding future developments. The article includes appendices that synthesize the results in the Bologna Process Stocktaking exercises and the impact of the Bologna Process on European higher education, including legal education.