Creating a better Europe through international cooperation: the European Higher Education Area

Have you heard of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA)? If not, you’re in luck! In this article we’ll go through what it is and what it does.

What is the EHEA?

The EHEA is a consortium of 48 countries in and beyond the European Union, led by the ministers of education in each country. It aims to promote mutual recognition of qualifications and to make it easier for students and graduates to be mobile and employable. Ultimately, its goal is to ensure more comparable, compatible and coherent systems of higher education in Europe.

What has it achieved?

Various tools and structures have been developed as the initiative has progressed, including:

  • Qualification frameworks such as the three-cycle system for degree structures (e.g. bachelor, master, doctorate)
  • Joint degree programmes across two or more countries
  • Quality assurance documents and systems
  • Easier recognition of qualifications and periods of study using Bologna Tools such as Diploma Supplement, Europass, and the Lisbon Recognition Convention

Other key areas of work include mobility, recognition, the social dimension of higher education, employability, and lifelong learning.

What about the Bologna Process?

The EHEA started life as the Bologna Process, which was set up in 1998 by a group of four education ministers who agreed that working in partnership could help to improve the higher education sector in Europe. One year later in 1999 the process was formalised in Bologna (hence the name!) by 30 participating countries. The EHEA was then officially launched during the ten-year anniversary of the Bologna Process, in March 2010, at the Budapest-Vienna Ministerial Conference.

How can I find out more?

In the UK, the British Council and the UK Higher Education International Unit are working with a team of experts to support the implementation of EHEA reforms. As part of this project a series of workshops is taking place from October 2015 to February 2016 on priority areas for the UK.

The workshops will have a very practical focus and will include advice for those involved in the planning, management or development of Erasmus+ higher education projects and for those applying for higher education funding under the Erasmus+ programme. They are useful for many staff from higher education institutions including academics, heads of international departments, quality staff and international coordinators. Register here.

Are you interested in improving and developing higher education practices and systems? Find out more about Erasmus+ UK higher education partnership funding and see how you can make your mark.

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