The United Kingdom and Germany
Chapter 10The Bologna Process in Higher Education:German and British Responses 255
Chapter 10 The Bologna Process in Higher Education: British and German Responses “Soft” Policy in the Pursuit of a European Higher Education Area It is curious to ref lect upon the fact that the Bologna Process began in France, not in Italy, which claims to be home to the oldest university in Europe. In May 1998 on the occasion of the 800th anniversary of the found- ing of the Sorbonne, Claude Allègre, the French Minister of Education, called for university systems to adapt to the era of the knowledge economy. Together with the ministers of higher education in Germany, Italy and the UK (the four signatories to the subsequent 1998 Sorbonne Declaration), he undertook to work for a common university architecture of Bachelor and Master’s degrees, and to encourage other European governments to do the same. As part of the Declaration, it was agreed that higher education had a mission to strengthen Europe’s intellectual, cultural, social and tech- nical dimensions; the signatories committed themselves to encouraging a common frame of reference, aimed at improving external recognition and facilitating student mobility as well as employability. They undertook to create a European area of higher education, where national identities and common interests could interact and strengthen each other for the benefit of Europe, of its students, and more generally of its citizens. Although it was not explicitly mentioned in the Declaration, the ministers were very aware of American competition, and hoped by their action to help estab- lish a European counter-balance...
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