ETUCE’s voice is heard as Europe marks 20th anniversary of the Bologna Process


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A new publication, Bologna Process Beyond 2020: Fundamental Values of the EHEA, summarises the conference marking the 20th Anniversary of the Bologna Process and collects the abstracts of researchers and experts.

The Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research holds the Secretariat of the Bologna Follow-Up Group until November 2020. One year ago, on 24-25 June 2019, they organised a major event in cooperation with the University of Bologna, the Magna Charta Universitatum, EUA, ESU and other partners to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Bologna Process. ETUCE reported at that time, that the conference focused on numerous topics, such as academic and related civic values in changing societies; student-centred learning; the role of Higher Education in providing leadership for sustainable development; the social dimensions of Higher Education; and careers and skills for the labour market of the future.

The introduction to the new report underlines one of the topics ETUCE actively promoted at the conference: “Autonomy, academic freedom, equity and integrity have entered common usage in recent decades. They are considered to be among the core values of academia and crucial conditions for trust and reliability. Yet making declarations about such principles of good practice isn’t the same as actually embracing and practicing them. Clientelism, commodification, competitiveness, corruption are only a few among the many deviations from good and fair practice.” The report on the conference session ‘Academic and related civic values in changing societies’ (page 349) gives a brief input to the discussion among rectors, academics, the representative of education trade unions teachers and researchers (ETUCE), and the Council of Europe. Rob Copeland, Chair of the ETUCE Standing Committee for Higher Education and Research (HERSC) was a speaker at this session, where he stressed the importance of steady employment and good working conditions as important factors in salvaging academic freedom and academics themselves from self-censorship.

The book includes an abstract from Jorunn Dahl Norgård and Jon Wikene Iddeng, who represented the Norwegian Association of Researchers (NAR) and ETUCE at the conference, entitled Supportive working conditions as key – a statement made by the many (page 339). They underlined that “a number of studies have made it clear that the working conditions and future prospects for academic staff, young scholars in particular, have deteriorated even further following austerity measures and changes in funding of HEI after the 2008 financial crisis. These reports confirm that early-career academics face far more uncertain employment conditions and career prospects than their senior counterparts. A growing number of academics are temporarily employed outside a recognized career path. Accordingly, they do not get access to career-developing measures, such as sabbatical leave, continuous professional development (CPD) and other forms of institutional support.” The authors remind that international standards are set out in the 1997 UNESCO recommendation concerning the Status of Higher Education Teaching Personnel and these should be respected. The authors also highlight that “the aspirations for Bologna 2020 and beyond can be achieved through the following strategic actions:

  • Greater commitment by governments, institutions & education trade unions to reduce job insecurity in higher education.
  • Increased level of sustained core public funding for research and teaching.
  • Better data collection on higher education staff and more research on effects of precarious employment on research, teaching and students’ learning.
  • More emphasis on “staff dimension”, including terms and conditions, in quality assurance within higher education. “

The conference report Bologna Process Beyond 2020: fundamental Values of the EHEA is available online here.