nafsaThis webinar described the Bologna Process and how it will potentially impact colleges and universities in the United States. The Bologna Process will offer opportunities for institutions in Europe and in the U.S. but it also will require changes in practice and create new challenges.

What is the Bologna Process?

The Bologna Process will institute a series of reforms to make European higher education more compatible, comparable and competitive internationally. It seeks to make European universities more attractive to students and scholars within Europe and from other continents.

The motivation of the Bologna Process is to increase the mobility and the employability of students in Europe by creating a European credit transfer system. Another goal is to correct imbalances in the higher educational system by reforming the system so that more young people can pursue higher education.

The priorities of the Bologna Process are creating a three cycle system (bachelor/masters/doctorate), and standardizing qualifications. It will accommodate differentiation within and between European higher education systems and introduce competition and marketing to European institutions.

The Bologna Process does not make European and U.S. systems become more alike. They will still differ from each other in mission, philosophy and degree structures. European systems will still not have general education requirements or liberal arts degrees and the 3 tiered system will strictly be consecutive and discipline based.

The impact of the Bologna Process on U.S. institutions

The Bologna Process has introduced the need for collaboration and competition between the U.S. and European higher education systems. While the two systems will compete for the same students, there is the realization that working together collaboratively will be beneficial to both. The results of the Bologna Process will be degree structure changes, increased transparency, and a qualification system of study programs that will hopefully bring greater mobility of students within the European Union and between Europe and the U.S.

  • Factors that will contribute to competition between institutions in the U.S. and Europe include:
  • European institutions will remain less costly to attend than US institutions. Paying high sums for education is not a European tradition.
  • An increasing number of European institutions are teaching courses in English which is attracting more international students.
  • There are more opportunities and scholarships for European students to go to other countries within Europe than to the US.
  • It will be easier for students to move between European countries.
  • Branch campuses of US institutions in Europe will compete for European students.
  • Stricter visa procedures in the US, making prolonged stay in the US and travel between Europe and the US while enrolled more difficult.
  • Predicted Impacts of the Bologna Process for US institutions in the future:
  • Fewer one-year enrollments of Europeans in US undergraduate and graduate schools. The 3 year bachelor degree will allow less time to go abroad for a year.
  • Increase in demand for short term opportunities and internships – one or two year Masters Degrees and summer courses.
  • More structured inter-institutional exchange and cooperati