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European education reform moves ahead

European education ministers have officially launched the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) at a conference in Budapest and Vienna held on Thursday and Friday.

The creation of the EHEA was the objective of the so-called Bologna process, which laid the foundation for a compatible higher education system across Europe.

Switzerland, which sent a delegation to the conference, was one of the original 29 signatory countries, and has introduced Bologna reforms in its universities.

Under the Bologna system, credits and degrees are recognised by all the participating countries, enabling students to move easily from one to another. Forty-seven countries are now involved.

In Switzerland 90 per cent of students are following courses compatible with the Bologna model, and the country’s universities have introduced the Bologna-wide ECTS credit system.

The conference declaration spoke of the “impressive progress” made by the Bologna process, but admitted there were problems in implementing the reform.

A statement from the Swiss State Secretariat for Education and Research agreed that implementation of Bologna required further effort and amendment. It said a monitoring system was in place in Switzerland to identify any problems.

Last November students at a number of universities in Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe held a “global week of action”, among other things targeting Bologna for its constant testing which allegedly diverts students from thinking for themselves. and agencies

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