University: Bologna Reform
The Bologna Plan was born from the Bologna Declaration, an agreement signed in 1999, in the Italian city, by the Ministers of Education of the members of the European Union. The main goal of this Plan is to form the Superior Education European Space, which should be effective by 2010.
Within the context of this established convergence, the objective is to adapt all the particularities of the different national education systems so as to allow a free exchange of academics and students throughout the whole European territory. At the same time, the idea is to renew the contents of the Universities Education programs, graduate and postgraduate, in accordance to the new social and economic demands.
A new system
In addition to this, a new system of university credits will be applied, in the form of ECTS (European Credit Transfer System). This will take into consideration the credits assigned to theory classes but also those in accordance to the student’s work, for example through seminars, assignments, work experience and even study time.
Recognition and comparisons between universities will be structured using these ECTS as basis. In this manner, the recognition of any academic title throughout the whole continent will be possible. Therefor, the objective is to favor the exchange of undergraduates and graduates between the different European countries.
Two learning cycles
This system will also implement university studies based on two learning cycles, resembling the Anglo-Saxon model. In this way, after 3 or 4 years of study, the student will achieve a Graduate Title (Bachelor level, in the English model). With 1 or 2 more years, the student will obtain a postgraduate specialization degree, on a Master’s level.
Problems of the Bologna Plan
Most of the complaints against this system focus on the less autonomy the Faculties of the Universities will have to grant intermediate or different titles than those proposed by the Bologna Plan. For example, the fate of bachelor and other degrees is still unknown, even if they will exist at all.
In addition to this, some people think specialization courses will cost around 3.000 Euros, which not everyone can afford. To aspire to that specific title and be able to compete in the working market with any chance to succeed, students will have to apply for University grants and loans. The critical sectors conclude that this system will lead to a reduction of the public budget for education and the substitution of graduate and postgraduate scholarships for loans.
In conclusion, to elevate the level of superior education in Europe and unite or combine the criteria between the different European Universities is something worth considering and even admirable. However, this must be done with caution. The necessary measures must be taken so as to avoid an excessive commercialization of this superior education, which can blow away any chance, for many European citizens, to acquire a professional formation and evolve in their specialty.