The European Higher Education Area

In 1999, the Ministers of Education from 29 countries in Europe met in the Italian city of Bologna to propose the creation of a European Higher Education Area through a resolution called the Bologna Declaration. The aim of the Bologna Declaration was to create a cohesive European Higher Education Area by 2010 in order to facilitate academic mobility, increase the comparability of studies across all the educational systems of the participating countries as well as promote Europe as a world education destination.

Key elements to complete the European Higher Education Area

The creation of such a European Higher Education Area was subject to the fulfillment of three key components:

  • The creation of an evaluation system that would allow the comparison of study programs and courses. For this purpose, the European Credit Transfer Scheme (ECTS) was developed
  • The creation of comparable higher education structures with the introduction of a system based on cycles (please, see graphic below)
  • The application of the Lisbon Convention, which ensures that studies are mutually recognized within the signatory countries.

The structure of the higher education system in the European Higher Education Area

First cycle (Bachelor’s Degrees): 180 - 240 ECTS (3 - 4 years)

Second cycle (Master’s programs): 90 -120 ECTS (1,5 - 2 years)

Third cycle (Doctoral studies) - No ECTS range

List of countries participating in the European Higher Education Area

Although the Bologna Declaration was originally signed by 29 countries, nowadays 46 countries have joined the European Higher Education Area as seen on the list below: