In many respects, the Bologna Process has been revolutionary for cooperation in European higher education. Four education ministers participating in the celebration of the 800th anniversary of the University of Paris (Sorbonne Joint Declaration, 1998) shared the view that the segmentation of the European higher education sector in Europe was outdated and harmful. The decision to engage in a voluntary process to create the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) was formalized one year later in Bologna, by 30 countries (The Bologna Declaration, 1999).
It is now apparent that this was a unique undertaking as the process today includes no fewer than 47 participating countries, out of the 49 countries that have ratified the European Cultural Convention of the Council of Europe (1954).At its inception, the Bologna Process was meant to stregthen the competitiveness and attractiveness of the European higher education and to foster student mobility and employability through the introduction of a system based on undergraduate and postgraduate studies with easily readable programmes and degrees. Quality assurance has played an important role from the outset, too.
However, the various ministerial meetings since 1999 have broadened this agenda and have given greater precision to the tools that have been developed. The undergraduate/postgraduate degree structure has been modified into a three-cycle system, which now includes the concept of qualifications frameworks, with an emphasis on learning outcomes. The concept of social dimension of higher education has been introduced and recognition of qualifications is now clearly perceived as central to the European higher education policies. In brief, the evolution of the main objectives of the Bologna Process can be seen hereby