Summary Reflections on Bologna Process during European Congress

IYCS-IMCS (JECI-MIEC) European Congress
23.-26.09.2009, Bonn

Summary Reflections

During our European Congress, where IYCS (International Young Catholic Students) and IMCS (International Movement of Catholic Students) national movement leaders gathered, the study session focused on the exchange of experiences with the Bologna Process in our home countries. Its impacts on students’ lives and desirable improvements were also part of the discussion. The main points can be summarized as followed:

Facilitated exchange and greater comparability of university systems across Europe, which was one of the principle objectives for the Bologna reforms, has been not achieved. Neither could we observe any increase in the quality of higher education due to the reforms, in the contrary. We strongly support quality improvements, e.g. supply of material, teaching methods and more personnel. Especially, where there is an increase in fees, this should lead to an important improvement of the quality of the teaching, which is often not the case. Ideally, education should be freely accessible for everyone, which is not possible under current systems because of financial barriers.

Currently, we identified the problem that not all young people who would have the ability to successfully complete their studies, have the opportunity to do so because they cannot afford high fees additionally to costs of living. Financing of Master and Doctoral programs by the private sector should not be completely rejected. However, only certain fields, such as natural science, will potentially benefit from those funds. Therefore, governments have to assure that higher education does not depend on interests of the private sector and invest in fields that lack behind concerning finances, particularly human science, languages and arts.

The Bologna reforms mostly increased the degree of specialization. Specialization may be an option for students, but should not be the only one. To create employable people for the labor market as fast as possible, cannot be the objective of higher education. Instead education should be human centered and also lead to individual development of personality. We draw that opinion from our Christian perspective of estimation of every single human being – independent from his/her employability in the labor market, as education is not only the key to employability, but also to responsible citizenship.

The Bachelor degree is still not broadly recognized as a complete studies degree; at the same time there are by far not enough places in Master programs for all graduated students, which puts an enormous amount of pressure on students. So finding time for a job to finance studies, for extra-curricula activities and social engagement, has become harder because of the restructuring of the higher educational system. We clearly criticize these changes and strongly emphasize the importance of non-formal education for personal development. Possible solutions might be to give ECTS for extra-curricula activities, participation in students’ representation, working in social/civil institutions and the like, or to encourage the complete curriculum vitae as selective criterion rather than mere grades.

In short, we reject employability as principle objective for higher education and cannot find enough room in the Bologna reforms for individual free choices, informal education and development of personality.

What we want to change:

  • more diversification and flexibility for the students
  • possibility to have a diploma after 4 years
  • part of the course : compulsory / other part: open choice of subjects
  •  not increase university fees and increase the quality of the teaching given

What can we do?

  • on local level, we have to know ourselves how Bologna is implemented
  • then communicate this information to our peer groups / members
  • do study sessions on our local levels with students, university officials and politicians
  • student-coordination is important –> participate in student-councils at the university
  • use existing networks !!!, institutions and tools
  • national campaign for the student-level
  • inform the public
  • have a structure / commission to work with COMECE
  • lobby also on EU-Commission & Parliament with COMECE together -> how?
  • have officially responsible people!
  • provide continuity in activities and actions concerning the Bologna Process
  • focus on work on national level

Material prepared by Kathrin Russner (KSJ Germany)

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