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Bologna process

What is the Bologna Process?

The Bologna Process seeks to bring more coherence to higher education systems across Europe. 

It established the European Higher Education Area to facilitate student and staff mobility, to make higher education more inclusive and accessible, and to make higher education in Europe more attractive and competitive worldwide. 

Bologna Process aims to create the European higher education area by harmonising academic degree standards and quality assurance standards throughout Europe for each faculty and its development.

The name comes because the process was proposed at the University of Bologna with the signing, in 1999, of the Bologna declaration by ministers of education from 48 European countries in the Italian city of Bologna.

As part of the European Higher Education Area, all participating countries agreed to:

  • introduce a three-cycle higher education system consisting of bachelor's, master's and doctoral studies
  • ensure the mutual recognition of qualifications and learning periods abroad completed at other universities
  • implement a system of quality assurance, to strengthen the quality and relevance of learning and teaching

Why is the Bologna Process important?

Under the Bologna Process, European governments engage in discussions regarding higher education policy reforms and strive to overcome obstacles to create a European Higher Education Area. 

Bologna reform is a key to build the necessary trust for successful learning mobility, cross-border academic cooperation and the mutual recognition of study periods and qualifications earned abroad. Enhancing the quality and relevance of learning and teaching is also a core mission of the Bologna Process. Implementation of these reforms is, however, uneven across the 48 participating countries. 

The Bologna Process also provides a forum for dialogue with neighbouring countries regarding higher education reforms and questions related to shared academic principles, such as the independence of universities and the participation of students in civil society activities. It has become an important space for soft diplomacy with neighbouring countries in the Western Balkans (with the exception of Kosovo), Eastern Partnership countries, Turkey and Russia, as well as many other countries.

What is a credit system?

The credit system is a systematic way of describing an educational program by assigning loans to each of its components. Identification of loans in the higher education system can be based on various parameters, such as the student's load, learning outcomes and the amount of classroom load.

What is ECTS?

The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) is a system developed for the benefit of students and is based on determining the student load that is needed to achieve the programs goals. It is necessary to refine these goals, namely the results of learning and acquired skills.

Why do you need ECTS?

ECTS simplifies understanding and comparison the curricula for all students (domestic and foreign). ECTS stimulates mobility and academic recognition. It helps universities to organize and review their curricula. ECTS can be used for different curricula and forms of study. This system makes obtaining higher education in Europe more attractive to students from other continents.

What are the main features of ECTS?

  • ECTS is based on an agreement that 60 credits represent the full-time student's load during the academic year. In most cases, the student's full-time load in Europe is 36/40 weeks a year, and in those cases, one load is equal to 24-30 working hours. Load refers to the approximate time required by the average student to achieve the required learning outcomes.
  • Credit is also a way to transfer the learning outcomes quantitatively. The last one are the set of skills that means that they must know, understand, and be able to complete, regardless of the duration. ECTS credits can be obtained only after the completion of the required work and the corresponding assessment of the results of learning.
  • Distribution of ECTS credits is based on the official duration of the training program cycle. The total load required for a bachelor's degree, which requires 3-4 years of study, is equal to 180-240 credits.
  • Students' load in ECTS includes time spent listening to lectures, seminars, self-study, preparation and examinations, etc.

Credits are distributed across all educational components of the training program (modules, disciplines, internships, thesis, etc.) and reflect the amount of work required to complete each component due to the total number of required work to complete the full year of study in this program.  Student’s success is characterized by local / national assessments. Additional ECTS assessments are desirable, especially for the case of transfer of loans. The ECTS scores students on a statistical basis. The distribution of assessments among students who received an assessment above the unsatisfactory course is as follows:

A - the best 10%;

B - the next 25%;

C - the next 30%;

D - the next 25%;

E - the next 10%.

For unsuccessful students, there are FX and F estimates. Between them, there is a difference that FX means: "did not perform any part of the work necessary to obtain an assessment above unsatisfactory", and F: "did not do all the necessary work." The inclusion of FX and F estimates in decoding evaluations is optional.

What documents are essential for ECTS?

  • The current Information Package / Catalog of educational institutions in two languages (or only in English for the programs taught in this language) is posted on the Internet and/or published solidly in one booklet or in more booklets. Information package / Catalog of disciplines must contain a document that allows foreign students to receive information of interest to him.
  • An education agreement contains a list of disciplines to be studied by the student, agreed with the responsible department of the educational institution, where the student will undergo training. In case of a need for credit transfer, the Education Agreement must be agreed upon between the student, the old and the new facilities before leaving the student for a new institution, and updated as the changes occur.
  • Decoding grades (Academic Reference) reflects the student's progress, showing the list of disciplines he/she studied, received credits and local assessments (possibly, ECTS estimates). In the case of a credit transfer, the decoding of the ratings is issued before the student’s leaving, his/her institution of education, and the other institution - the student coming to study at the end of his period of study.
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