Online meeting of the Bologna Follow-up Group held on 26 June 2020 as part of the Croatia’s Presidency of the Council of the EU

On 26 June, in the framework of the Program of the Croatia’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Ministry of Science and Education organized and co-chaired a regular meeting of the Bologna Follow-up Group. Its members are representatives of the ministries of education of forty-eight states belonging to the European Higher Education Area and consultative members (Council of Europe, UNESCO, EQAR, EUA, EURASHE, ESU, EURODOC and ETUCE). For the first time, the meeting was attended by all members of the Bologna Follow-up Group.

In her introductory address, Minister Divjak supported proposals for more ambitious goals of the European Higher Education Area related to strengthening inclusiveness, innovation, research-based teaching and learning, as well as increasing the number of flexible, shorter and individually-tailored programs. The Minister also stressed the opportunities offered by digital transformation accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, notably related to the upgrading the quality of higher education.

The meeting was co-chaired by Croatia and Ukraine in the capacity of co-chairs of the Bologna Follow-up Group. The BFUG Vice-Chair is Italy as a country hosting the Secretariat of the Bologna Follow-up Group. Therefore, the Conference of Ministers of Education of the countries of the European Higher Education area will be held in Rome in November 2020.

There were three parallel sessions aimed at discussing the implementation of three key commitments of the Bologna process: qualification frameworks; full compliance with the Lisbon Recognition Convention on recognition of qualifications in higher education; and quality assurance in higher education.

Four BFUG working groups set up for the period 2018-2020 contributed to a better understanding of challenges related to the implementation of key commitments and drafted their reports (Bologna Implementation Coordination Group; Advisory Group on the Social Dimension of Higher Education, Advisory Group on Learning and Teaching, and Working Group on Monitoring - Bologna process Implementation Report).

The draft complete report is available on the website of the Secretariat of the Bologna Follow-up Group:

The discussion was held on the recommendations on the application of San Marino to join the European Higher Education Area. A final decision will be adopted by the ministers of higher education at the Rome conference in November 2020.

Furthermore, there were two parallel sessions on the implications of COVID-19 to the Bologna Process from the students' perspective and the higher education institutions' perspective. The participants agreed that a rapid shift to new models of teaching and learning require that a special attention be paid to the quality assurance of higher education. It is also important to secure equal learning opportunities to all students, notably disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, as well as full recognition of cross-border mobility. The role of ministries of education in overcoming the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis was discussed in detail, as well as measures that would enable recovery of student mobility, and potentials of digital solutions supporting efficient administrative procedures.

The Committee for drafting the Rome Ministerial Communiqué to be adopted by the ministers of education reviewed amendments proposed by BFUG members. The Communiqué is based on the principles of enhancing inclusiveness, innovation and interconnection of higher education systems of countries participating in the European Higher Education Area.

The BFUG Secretariat reported on the final date and concept for the Rome Ministerial Conference. It will be held on 19 and 20 November in a blended format. Physical presence will be possible for three participants per country, while the rest will participate online. There were also discussed options for the Global Policy Forum, traditionally organized following the ministerial conference for representatives of European Higher Education Area and major partner countries outside EHEA.

BFUG will recommend to ministers that the next Vice-Chair of BFUG and host country of the BFUG Secretariat be Albania. Co-chairing of BFUG will be taken over by Germany and UK.

All documents for the meeting are available on the web page of the BFUG Secretariat:

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