Conference Details

The joint contributions of policy makers, different experts and researchers are expected to make positive inroads for the policy agenda of EHEA and would constitute a valuable contribution into the May 2018 Ministerial Conference and Bologna Policy Forum in Paris, France. Experts and policy makers are invited to explore the convergence and interaction of specific issues within research papers presented during the conference.
Upon selection by the Editorial Board based on the abstracts presented, the submitted papers will become part of a two-volume of proceedings, edited by an international publisher. All the papers should fit under one (or more) of the five sub-themes suggested by the organizers. Each of them is allocated to members of the Editorial Board as thematic coordinators and is briefly described in the following paragraphs.

The academic papers that will be presented during the conference will tackle one of the five proposed sub-themes of the event:

1. Bologna Process and the wider world of Higher Education

2. Social dimension within a quality oriented HE system

3. Twenty years of Bologna and a decade of EHEA: what’s next?

4. Transparency Tools – impact and future developments

5. Financing and Governance

1. Bologna Process and the wider world of Higher Education

Internationalization has always been at the core of the Bologna Process. In the recent years, more emphasis was put on this dimension, with the Ministers adopting the Mobility for better learning Strategy as annex to the Bucharest Ministerial Communique (2012) and the inclusion of staff mobility again amongst the commitments undertaken with the 2015 Yerevan Communique.

Additionally, internationalization is one of the five priorities highlighted in the EC Modernization Agenda, clearly stating the need for all stakeholders to work together in “promoting mobility of students and staff and cross-border cooperation”. Tools such as the Erasmus+ Programme have taken a greater role in supporting mobility, one of key internationalization components, thus contributing to the 20/20 target set by in Leuven Communique.

Furthermore, as a 2015 EU Parliament study on Internationalization of Higher Education shows, nowadays institutions and policy makers must also address the latest challenges occurring, such as digital and blended learning, demographic changes in the student population, immigration, financial crisis or ethnic and religious tensions. Brexit is another recent phenomenon that impacts on almost all aspects of internationalization, which involved stakeholders need to take into account.

Giving the rising importance of this topic in the EHEA and beyond, the interested researchers should send us their contributions analyzing good practices, introducing comparative research or new theoretical insights on internationalization of higher education, either for the institutional level or for national level.


2. Social dimension within a quality oriented HE system

Providing better access to quality higher education for a wider participation of under-represented groups of students has been one of the main targets of the Bologna Process ever since its creation. While various initiatives have been undertaken by policy makers in the quest for a more inclusive education, without affecting the quality of HE provision, a lot remains to be done in order to decrease inequalities for different socio-economic groups. “Making our systems more inclusive is an essential aim for the EHEA as our populations become more and more diversified, also due to immigration and demographic changes”, states the Yerevan Communique. Furthermore, the Strategy for the Development of the Social Dimension and Lifelong Learning in the European Higher Education Area to 2020 sets overall objectives, as well as national policies and guidelines to assist countries in developing such national plans or strategies.

The research papers selected in this section could, therefore, focus on:

  • national strategies, plans and targets in the field of social dimension, including flexible learning paths, alternative access routes and recognition of prior learning;
  • widening access to higher education and increasing graduation rates;
  • access, participation and success of under-represented groups in higher education;
  • providing relevant information, advice and guidance (IAG) services, with an emphasis on under-represented groups;
  • safeguarding the quality of HE systems, while increasing their level of equity;
  • the link between the competences of the graduates and labor market needs.

The authors are invited to submit comparative research on measures implemented by different higher education systems or higher education institutions, offer examples of good practice and study the impact of different policies in the area of social dimension within quality oriented HE systems.

3. Twenty years of Bologna and a decade of EHEA: what’s next?

While we are getting closer to a decade of European Higher Education Area (EHEA), the entire process should bear scrutiny, as to ensure its continuous relevance in the global higher education landscape.

Having welcomed one new member and with constant pressure to adapt to a more challenging environment, described by social and economic turmoil, demographic changes, untraditional / migrant students and geo-political phenomena such as Brexit, the EHEA should find new ways to fulfil its initial goals: increasing the attractiveness and competitiveness of the European higher education system by settling common values, principles and using comparable instruments.

Acknowledging these challenges, the BFUG has taken one step in this direction by the establishment of the “Policy Development for New EHEA Goals” Working Group, whose main aim is “to explore potential new priorities for the future of the EHEA beyond 2020”. A series of topics have been identified as relevant for the future of the Bologna Process, also in line with the recommendation noted in the Yerevan Communique, such as: New Learners, Relevance of Competences, Digital Education, Teacher Support, ERA-EHEA (including the doctoral cycle) or Active Citizenship.

Therefore, organizers invite the authors to sketch a possible future for the EHEA, having in mind its ten year celebration, by submitting papers addressing the current challenges faced by inter-governmental processes of this kind, with an emphasis on the new topics identified above.

4. Transparency Tools – impact and future developments

With the advancement of EHEA, a series of tools have been either developed or improved in order to provide higher quality for learners. Classification of HEIs and ranking of programs have always been looked at, as they provide prospective students, as well as policy makers and other stakeholders with instruments to balance accountability and improvement within higher education institutions, on the one hand, and the shared responsibilities of higher education institutions, quality assurance agencies and policy-makers, on the other.

Following an ample process of consultation that involved both the key stakeholder organisations and ministries, the “Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area” (ESG) have been revised for the Yerevan Ministerial Conference in 2015, as to reflect a joint view on how to take forward quality assurance in the European Higher Education Area and, as such, provide a firm basis for successful implementation. The revised ESG also make a more explicit link to the learning and teaching process in the section on internal QA, and defines the relationship of QA with other Bologna Process developments that have taken place since 2005.

Various other transparency tools are already gaining momentum through the efforts of some BFUG Working Groups, such as the digitalization of the Diploma Supplement or open badges (verifiable, portable digital badges with embedded metadata about skills and achievements).

The submitted papers should address topics related to:

  • impact of existing transparency tools, including their use for policy decisions (diversification of HE systems, financing, governance etc.);
  • future developments of transparency tools;
  • synergies and overlaps between existing transparency tools in HE.

5. Financing and Governance

The Bucharest Ministerial Communique (2012) has reaffirmed the commitment of the European Ministers of Education to support a sustainable educational system by assuring the highest possible level of public funding for education, while encouraging HEIs to intensify their attempts to draw upon other appropriate financing sources. EHEA Ministers also committed to intensify the policy dialogue on both financing and governance of higher education.

In this context, we invite researchers to write papers on case studies or compare cases regarding:

  • different financing systems within the EHEA and beyond;
  • governance principles and policies both at institutional level and systemic, national level;
  • strategic allocation of budgetary resources;
  • efficiency in the delivery of public services;
  • fostering autonomy in a climate of societal accountability.

As well, papers could also analyze and discuss different case studies regarding the impact of institutional policies in matters such as programs selection / educational paths or diversification of funding streams.