Launched as the Bologna Process, the conception of a European Higher Education Area has developed into a major reform encompassing 46 countries. Taking part in the Bologna Process is a voluntary decision made by each country and its higher education community to endorse the principles highlighted within the European Higher Education Area.
The principal characteristics of this new single market in higher education are:
- Mutual recognition of degrees and other higher education qualifications;
- Transparency, facilitated by the adoption of a comparable three tier degree structure involving Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral degrees;
- Cooperation in quality control;
- Greater mobility of students through for example the introduction of a European credit transfer and accumulation system;
- More efficient management of resources through cooperation and interchangeability;
- Enhanced student choice through the introduction of modular courses;
- The improvement of the social environment of students through both financial instruments and the introduction of legislation aimed at ending discrimination and other barriers impeding access to higher education; and
- Openness to the world through the negotiation of agreements with countries and universities beyond Europe.
Scientia’s software is particularly relevant in the following areas covered by the Bologna Process:
The Management of 3 or 4 year Bachelor Degrees
The 3 or 4 year Bachelor degree is the basic currency of the Bologna driven single market. Management of these 3 or 4 year degree courses involves complex planning and scheduling. Scientia’s software, which was developed in the UK, where the Bachelor’s degree has been the norm for a very long time, is ideally suited to assist university administrators to meet these challenges.
In the great majority of European universities, Bologna implies a radical overhaul of curricula, which can in turn impose major strains on staff and increased demands on buildings. Scientia’s software enables universities to represent the new curricula and evaluate whether the institution concerned can deliver using existing staff and buildings. If the answer is negative, Scientia’s Syllabus Plus Enterprise software is able to model the changes that will be needed.
Increasing Mutual Confidence and Mobility
Mutual confidence and mobility are core objectives of the Bologna programme. To achieve these goals, participating universities and students will need to be confident that the courses that the students pursue in different universities are indeed comparable in the demands that they make and the results they expect. The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System and cooperation in quality control are of course the principal means by which these requirements can be fulfilled. The adoption of the same software by a growing number of universities can however reinforce efforts to achieve comparability and transparency and thereby increase mobility.
Enhancing Student Choice
Recent surveys by the National Unions of Students in Europe (ESIB) and others suggest that universities have been very slow to meet this challenge. Scientia’s software is designed to help the university authorities to manage modular degrees and in doing so to maximise student choice.
Safeguarding the Interests of Academic Staff
Some of the resistance to the introduction of the Bologna process has stemmed from the anxieties of academic staff about the effect that the new system and more particularly its emphasis on student choice will have on their workload. Scientia’s Staff Workload Planner can help university administrations to evaluate individual staff workloads and take appropriate action where necessary.
The Social Dimension
Improving the environment in which students work is not just a question of money or legislation. Better planning of individual study programmes and course timetables will also help. Once again, Scientia’s software is ideally suited to the task.
Economy, Efficiency and Competitiveness
One of the hopes of those who launched the Bologna process was that it would enhance the efficiency of European universities and make them more attractive to students in the rest of the world. Against the background of increasing competition for scarce public funds, the need for efficiency has become even greater. Scientia’s software can help the drive for more economic programmes, greater efficiency and enhanced competitiveness in various ways. It can, for example, assist university administrators to obtain a firmer understanding of and control over the resources that they have at their disposal. It can also help hitherto less favoured universities to adopt systems which have already proved their utility in some of Europe’s leading universities and thereby make themselves more competitive.