The 60th meeting of the Bologna Follow-Up Group (BFUG) took place in Sofia on 24 and 25 April. It is the second meeting within the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of European Union. The event was opened by Mrs. Denitsa Sacheva, Deputy Minister of Education and Science.

The Forum focused on the main issues to be discussed at the Conference of Ministers responsible for Higher Education in May, 2018 in Paris, as well as on key mechanisms and working arrangements for the next Ministerial Conference in 2020.

The higher education sector is one of the most important pillars for the construction of Europe. Academic freedom and integrity, institutional autonomy and greater student involvement in the lives of universities are all seen as the backbone of the European Higher Education Area.

Mobility, inclusion, innovation are the three major activities for its future. Mobility is a part of young people culture and ensuring mobility means greater trust in the policies offered.

The second BFUG meeting in Sofia also aimed to specify the conditions required for unlocking the full potential of the European Higher Education Area, to ensure all necessary reforms and progress in terms of the set policies. An agreement was reached on all conflicting issues. Both the composition of the initial Bologna Implementation Coordinating Group for peer-learning support and its work regime were adopted. At the explicit insistence of the delegates, Bulgaria was also selected and included in that group. Extremely tense discussions related to the preparation of the Communiqué were finalized with the adoption of the text that will be proposed for adoption to the Ministers at their Paris conference in May this year.

The Bologna process is an initiative which started at the end of the 1990s to improve comparability in higher education in Europe and to provide effective academic mobility. The main objective of the Bologna process is to set up a European Higher Education Area, with the following aspects:

  • Introducing easily comparable educational degrees (Bachelor, Master and Doctor);
  • Introducing a system of educational credits (ECTS) as a measurement for students’ performance;
  • Introducing European standards and guidelines for quality assurance;
  • Removing the existing obstacles with regard to the free academic mobility in the European Higher Education Area.

The Republic of Bulgaria is amongst the 29 countries which on 19 June 1999 signed in Bologna the Joint Declaration for a European Higher Education Area. Accession to the Bologna process is voluntary, but the implementation of the commitments taken becomes obligatory following the accession.