Bologna process: Decent salaries and fair working conditions are the pillars for high-quality higher education


In the upcoming European Higher Education Area (EHEA) Ministerial Conference that will be held in Rome on 19 November 2020, 48 countries will adopt the Rome Communiqué which sets the main goals and challenges of the Bologna Process for the next decade. As a preparation to the ministerial meeting, ETUCE interviewed high-level representatives and experts of higher education and research trade unions on their views on the Bologna Process. Andreas Keller (GEW Germany), Vice-Chair of ETUCE, represents ETUCE in the Working Group on Learning and Teaching which was set up by the Bologna Follow-up Group.   

He highlights that ensuring decent salaries and fair working conditions as well as reinforcing teachers’ representation within the Bologna Process are the main priorities of the education trade unions for the future of the Bologna Process. Since its launch in 1999, the Bologna Process has been focusing on quality assurance and other technical matters at the same time it neglects the importance of teachers. Andreas Keller underlines that the next Ministerial Conference is a crucial opportunity to increase teachers’ representation in the decision-making on the Bologna Process. He emphasises that higher education and research trade unions should be recognised as core members of the Bologna Follow-Up Group which leads the Bologna Process.   

Andreas Keller welcomes that teachers’ support has been included in the draft Communiqué. Nevertheless, the ministers need to acknowledge that decent salaries, fair working conditions and continuous professional development for teachers and researchers are preconditions to be able to perform their work to the highest quality and face the new challenges of the digital transition in teaching and research. 

In his contribution, Andreas Keller also tackles the issue of micro-credentials about which ETUCE and trade unions have several concerns. He clarifies that the main problem on this matter is the lack of consensus on the definition of micro-credentials. On the one hand, micro-credentials can help students to move and transfer between universities and study programmes. On the other hand, trade unions are concerned that students risk only developing the skills that employers consider important, deteriorating the importance of full qualification. In this respect, ETUCE demands further steps to detail the definition of micro-credentials and to identify risks and opportunities of introducing more micro-credentials.