The Bologna Process refers to the development of the agreement by 28 European countries to create a European Higher Education Area (EHEA) by 2010. The Bologna Declaration was signed by a number of countries, including the UK, in 1999 with the aim of removing the obstacles to student mobility across Europe, enhancing the attractiveness of European higher education worldwide and to establish a common structure of higher education systems across Europe. These aims would be based on a common structure of two main cycles, undergraduate and graduate and would in turn lead to a greater transparency of qualifications and their recognition and foster employability and mobility in Europe.

The process started in 1998 when the education ministers of Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom signed the Sorbonne Declaration concerning the harmonisation of European higher education degree systems. The process has developed from six objectives, referred to as 'action lines' to ten with the number of signatory countries increasing to over 45. The process has developed through regular summitts with the 2003 Berlin summit adding a third cycle to include the doctoral level.

The 10 action lines are:

  • Adoption of a system of easily readable and comparable degrees
  • Adoption of a system essentially based on two cycles including qualifications frameworks
  • Establishment of a system of credits
  • Promotion of mobility
  • Promotion of European cooperation in quality assurance
  • Promotion of the European dimension in higher education
  • Lifelong learning
  • Higher education institutions and students
  • Promoting the attractiveness of the European Higher Education Area
  • Doctoral studies and the synergy between the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and the European Research Area (ERA)

A detailed guide to the Bologna Process can be downloaded free from the Universities UK website.