Investing in higher education for the future
The Ministers responsible for higher education in the 47 countries of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) adopted the Bucharest Communiqué – the highest political statement legitimising actions by governments across EHEA.
This occurred at a meeting in Bucharest, on 26-27 April 2012 where the ministers reviewed the achievements of the Bologna Process and agreed on the future priorities of the EHEA. The ministers The Bucharest Communiqué acknowledges that Europe is undergoing an economic and financial crisis with damaging societal effects. Within the field of higher education, the crisis is affecting the availability of adequate funding and making graduates’ job prospects more uncertain.
Key to solution of crisis
It also stresses that higher education is an important part of the solution to our current difficulties. Strong and accountable higher education systems provide the foundations for thriving knowledge societies. Higher education should be at the heart of efforts to overcome the crisis – now more than ever.
In particular, following the heated debates and efforts by the Education International (EI) delegation, supported by European Students’ Union, EU Commission, Council of Europe and other stakeholders as well as governments, the Communiqué included the following statement:
”… we commit to securing the highest possible level of public funding for higher education and drawing on other appropriate sources, as an investment in our future. We will support our institutions in the education of creative, innovative, critically thinking and responsible graduates needed for economic growth and the sustainable development of our democracies. We are dedicated to working together in this way to reduce youth unemployment.”
EI, representing teachers and education staff across the world, including more than three million higher education and research staff in 100 national organisations, welcomes the Bucharest Communiqué, as well as EHEA Mobility Strategy and Bologna Policy Forum Statement, adopted by the EHEA ministerial meeting.
However, EI acknowledges that political commitments need to be followed up by practical actions. In particular, the full recognition of the role of a supportive environment for academic staff and implementing actions towards improving it is a necessary pre-condition for progress of the Bologna process. This will require further mobilisation of political will and coordinated efforts by both stakeholders and governments.
The full text of the Bucharest Communiqué as well as other documents adopted by the Ministerial meeting can be found here.