The purpose of the Bologna Process (or Bologna Accords) is to create the European Higher Education Area by making academic degree standards and quality assurance standards more comparable and compatible throughout Europe, in particular under the Lisbon Recognition Convention. It is named after the place it was proposed, the University of Bologna in the Italian city of Bologna.
Before the signing of the Bologna declaration, the Magna Charta Universitatum had been issued at a meeting of university rectors celebrating the 900th anniversary of the University of Bologna – and thus of (Western) European universities – in 1988.
The Bologna Process currently has 46 participating countries, whereas there are only 27 Member States of the EU.
Current signatories and thus members of the "European Higher Education Area" are:from 1999: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdomfrom 2001: Croatia, Cyprus, Liechtenstein, Turkeyfrom 2003: Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Holy See, Russia, Serbia, Macedoniafrom 2005: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukrainefrom May 2007: Montenegro
Framework The basic framework adopted is of three cycles of higher education qualification.1st cycle: typically 180−240 ECTS credits, usually awarding a Bachelor's degree.2nd cycle: typically 90−120 ECTS credits (a minimum of 60 on 2nd-cycle level). Usually awarding a Master's degree.3rd cycle: Doctoral degree. No ECTS range given.In most cases, these will take 3, 2, and 3 years respectively to complete. The actual naming of the degrees may vary from country to country.
Goals it is easy to move from one country to the other (within the European Higher Education Area) – for the purpose of further study or employment;the attractiveness of European higher education has increased, so that many people from non-European countries also come to study and/or work in Europe;the European Higher Education Area provides Europe with a broad, high-quality advanced knowledge base, and ensures the further development of Europe as a stable, peaceful and tolerant community benefiting from a cutting-edge European Research Area;there will also be a greater convergence between the U.S. and Europe as European higher education adopts aspects of the American system.
Academic aspects The vocational three-year degrees are not intended for further study, so those students who also want to advance to a master's degree will be at a disadvantage.The master's degree effectively becomes the minimum qualification for a professional engineer, rather than the bachelor's degree.The academic three-year degrees prepare only for continuing towards master's, so students who enter the workforce at that point will not be properly prepared. Yet they would have the same academic title as the fully trained vocationally educated engineers.The end-result of the change is that the agreements between professional bodies will require reevaluation in some cases as qualifications change.
Since the mid-90s, Ukraine took steps to reform its education frameworks in consistence with the Bologna Process. By mid-2000s, most Universities grant lower Bachelor's degree (about 4 years) and higher Master's degree (about 6 years). In the Soviet times the only degree was Specialist, which is discontinued by now. Masters are eligible for post-graduate courses. The post-graduate system (Aspirantura) has not been reformed, with Candidate of Sciences and Doktor nauk degrees being granted.
The requirement of 60 ECTS per year assumes that 1,500-1,800 hours are available per year. However, the Bologna Process does not standardize semesters, which means that if the summer break at the university is long, the same material has to be crammed into a shorter study year.
Depending on the country and the development of its higher education system, some introduced ECTS, discussed their degree structures and qualifications, financing and management of higher education, mobility programmes etc. At the institutional level the reform involved higher education institutions, their faculties or departments, student and staff representatives and many other actors. The priorities varied from country to country and from institution to institution.