Research findings show the Bologna Process is moving in the right direction
Reform of the study system in German higher education institutions (HEIs) has been heavily criticised to date. Many books and articles claim the introduction of Bachelor and Master degrees has led to a decline in the quality of studies. However, there is no empirical basis for this negative blanket view. This is the conclusion of a new publication compiled by the CHE – Centre for Higher Education for the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
Called “The Bologna Process as seen from a higher education research viewpoint – analyses and impulses for practice”, the publication brings together 21 articles that give insight into the current state of national and international research into the most comprehensive study reform project in the past 50 years. It provides empirical evidence to counteract the subjective impressions given so far and thereby helps to make the debate more objective and give ideas for improving higher education practice.
The Bologna Process is much more than just a reform of study structures. Rather, it is a profound organisational and human resources-related development process in universities and universities of applied sciences, and embedded in a state of change in Europe. This is mirrored by the five focus topics covered by the 293-page publication:
- Germany and Europe compared
- Study organisation and study behaviour
- Teaching competence and competence development among students
- Institutional framework conditions
- Quality development and quality control
Overall, the analyses show that the quality of studies in German HEIs is much better than opinions and the current mood suggest. Nevertheless – and this is also backed by the empirical evidence presented in the publication – there remain a number of problematic areas relating to the transition to Bachelor and Master degrees. These in particular include increasing pressure on students and teachers caused by the examinations system that accompanies the programmes as well as the fact that study content has not been wholly adjusted to the tiered structure of the study programmes. There is urgent need for action here.
The increased bureaucracy triggered by the Bologna Process is also a risk, mainly in the area of quality development of teaching and studies. Considerable progress has been made in this area during the Bologna Process, but it is accompanied by a high level of regulation and requires enormous intra-institutional effort. The publication gives useful starting points, such as ensuring a closer link between quality management and university didactics, the structuring of starting phases for newly appointed professors as well as structuring the allocation of funds. It also takes a critical look at financial incentives for university teachers as well as other quality control procedures.
The publication can be downloaded for free from the CHE website. A printed version of the working paper is also available for the special price of EUR 9.90 for orders received before 15 October 2011. Please send orders by e-mail to: Britta.Hoffmann-Kobert@che.de. The publication is mainly in German.
Further Information can be found in the publication stated below.