Bologna Process: Equality in higher education must be based on public investment and cooperation


The next ministerial meeting of the member countries of the Bologna Process will be held in Rome on 19 November 2020. 48 ministers will adopt the Rome Communiqué, the document that 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. 

Annette Dolan (TUI Ireland) is the Vice-Chair of the ETUCE Higher Education and Research Standing Committee and ETUCE representative in the Working Group on the Social Dimension of the Bologna Process established by the Bologna Follow-up Group.In the interview she underlines that while normally higher education institutions should be reflective of the wider society, nowadays, disadvantaged, and vulnerable groups are still underrepresented. In this respect, the Working Group on Social Dimension of representatives of ministries and stakeholders worked to set principles and guidelines to increase participation and inclusion in higher education. 

Nevertheless, inclusion is not an automatic process as students from vulnerable, disadvantaged, and underrepresented groups are not likely to participate in higher education. It is necessary to enable these communities to see higher education as an attainable target. For these reasons, trade unions demand that governments adopt continuous engagement with a coordinated approach from a very early stage. 

Annette Dolan also emphasises the need for adequate public investment and additional supporting measures to achieve inclusion in higher education. To engage students who would usually not attend higher education, it is important that teachers and staff receive continuous professional development. As education trade unions, we also demand additional teachers and staff to provide individual support to those students who need it, as regards educational and non-educational support, and guidance. Students from disadvantaged communities attending higher education can act as role-models within their community and break the cycle of disadvantage to the benefit of the entire society.