A possibly qualified “yes” to Belarus looks more likely than a “no”


On March 24 - 25, 2015, during the meeting in Riga the BFUG (Bologna Follow-up Group) made the following recommendation: "Belarus can gain conditional access with accession now, accompanied by the Belarussian authorities to agreeing in the roadmap with the BFUG and implementing it over the next three years."

According to the BFUG the fact that approximately 1/3 of delegations voted against giving access now clearly demonstrates that there is abiding concern in the BFUG about the implementation of EHEA values, goals and policies in Belarus. According to the BFUG, accepting the roadmap will be the best way for Belarus to put those concerns at rest.

In follow up to this decision, the BFUG has developed a roadmap for higher education reform in Belarus in accordance with the values, principles and goals of the EHEA (European Higher Education Area). The roadmap takes account of the Belarusian National Report as well as the report by the Independent Bologna Committee and the main policy objectives as well as commitments by all members of the EHEA.

Within the roadmap, Belarusian authorities are to commit, among others, to developing a National Qualifications framework compatible with the QF-EHEA; to introducing the three-cycle system on the agreed Bologna model,  establishing a first degree of 180-240 ECTS credits and consequently phasing out the 5 year bakalvr degree; to reviewing legislation and practice with a view to identify any modifications needed to bring them into conformity with the obligations undertaken by Belarus as a State party to the Lisbon Recognition Convention; to developing a plan to implement ECTS in accordance with the revised ECTS Users' Guide; to launching work on a plan to facilitate, develop and diversify the international mobility of staff and students; to reviewing the criteria for financial support for students with a view to ensuring social equity; to reviewing the obligations for students whose education is financed by public funds; to implementing commitments made by the ministers at their meeting in Yerevan, as stipulated in Yerevan Ministerial Communiqué; to reviewing national legislation and introducing the required measures to incorporate the principles of the Magna Charta Universitatum and Council of Europe recommendations on the public responsibility for academic freedom and institutional autonomy.

"Significant developments have taken place in Belarussian higher education institutions: universities make their own decisions about the duration of business trips to scientific conferences and seminars abroad. This question is not regulated by the Belarussian Ministry of Education. It is stipulated by the new development concept for education in Belarus which is precisely based on the Bologna Process principles. Universities are recommended to increase the funding for traineeships and scientific trips as well as to participate more actively in European programs. In order to strengthen quality education, universities have and can invite lecturers from other universities. Foreign students have the possibility to study in English. It has been already for two years that students' workload is gradually being brought into line with the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) as an important factor for student mobility, " – says Aliaksandr Boika, the President of Trade Union of Education and Science of Belarus.

On 11 May 2015, the Belarusian Ministry of Education addressed a letter to the BFUG reconfirming its readiness for and commitment to a productive dialogue and interaction with the BFUG with a view to jointly develop and agree on the  roadmap and its implementation over the next three years.

The 47 ministers of the European Higher Education Area – the "Bologna ministers" – have been invited to meet for the first time in three years in Armenia. Aiming to advance one stage further on the regionalization of European higher education systems, the ministers will sign a communiqué for a roadmap for the upcoming years.  According to the magazine "Times Higher Education" (THE), the ministers want to discuss whether the acceptance of the Belarus' and Kosovo's candidacies. A possibly qualified "yes" to Belarus looks more likely than a "no", however, much depends on the attendance of as many Bologna ministers in Yerevan to give legitimacy to this political process.

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