Launched in 1999 by the Ministers of Education and university leaders of 29 countries, the Bologna Process aims to create a European Higher Education Area (EHEA) by 2010; it has further developed into a major reform encompassing 46 countries. Taking part in the Bologna Process is a voluntary decision made by each country and its higher education community to endorse the principles underlined in the European Higher Education Area.
The Bologna Process does not aim to harmonise national educational systems but rather to provide tools to connect them. The intention is to allow the diversity of national systems and universities to be maintained while the European Higher Education Area improves transparency between higher education systems, as well as implements tools to facilitate recognition of degrees and academic qualifications, mobility, and exchanges between institutions. The reforms are based on ten simple objectives which governments and institutions are currently implementing. Most importantly, all participating countries have agreed on a comparable three cycle degree system for undergraduates (Bachelor degrees) and graduates (Master and PhD degrees).
The Ministers responsible for higher education in the 47 countries of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) have met in Bucharest, on 26 and 27 April 2012, to take stock of the achievements of the Bologna Process and agree on the future priorities of the EHEA.
For 2012-2015, the future activities will be especially concentrated on fully supporting our higher education institutions and stakeholders in their efforts to deliver meaningful changes and to further the comprehensive implementation of all Bologna action lines.
Among the basic principles of recognition are:
The Implementation of the Bologna Process in Bulgaria
Bulgaria was among the first 29 countries that signed the Joint Declaration of the European Ministers of Education on June 19, 1999. As outlined in the Declaration, the activitiesforeseen will have a substantial effect on the higher education system in each country.
Bulgaria has continued to work towards implementing the Bologna process and aligning its higher education with modern European standards, with the ultimate goal of establishing a European Higher Education Area. The process of modernization of Bulgarian higher education “at this stage consists of two parts: integration in the European Higher Education Area (the Bologna process) and integration in the European Research Area”. “As a natural development to the Bologna Process in Bulgarian conditions and concerns”, a series of amendments and supplements, in 2007-2008, have introduced a number of changes in the Higher Education Act: “the model for financing higher education; support for the financial autonomy of higher education institutions; introduction of modern forms of management of the higher education institutions, ensuring publicity and transparency; development of more specific accreditation criteria and a system for quality control of education”.
The major legal documents regulating the national qualifications framework for highereducation are The Higher Education Act (SG 60 – 2 July 1999, and subsequent amendments) and The Register of the higher education fields of studies and the professional areas (SG 64/02.07.2002).
On 1February 2012,theBulgarian governmentapproved theNationalQualificationsFramework (NQF). It has been developed following the Recommendation of the European Parliament and the Council for establishment of the European qualifications framework (EQF) for lifelong learning.
The overall objective of developing and introducing a comprehensive NQF compatible with the EQF and the QF-EHEA is to make the levels of the Bulgarian education system clearer and easier to understand by describing them in terms of learning outcomes. This will improve the extent to which target groups and stakeholders are informed about national qualifications. It is hoped that this will raise trust in education and training and make mobility and recognition of qualifications easier. More specific aims addressed by NQF development are to: