2518 AX Den Haag
8. In conclusion
Between 1988 and 2020, numerous steps have been taken in implementing the Bologna Process and in structuring a European Higher Education Area. What will the next decade look like? The education ministers of the 48 countries participating in the Bologna Process are scheduled to hold another conference in November 2020. What course will the ministers choose to navigate? How will they want to further structure the European Higher Education Area? The closing communiqué will clarify which themes will be prioritised.
The communiqué will obviously cover themes such as inclusion and innovation. Higher education in the European Higher Education Area should become more accessible to everyone, irrespective of religion, gender, skin colour, socio-economic background or disability. The higher education sector is also expected to demonstrate innovative capacity, so that it can continue to contribute to solving the global social challenges in the next decade. To that end, the Sustainable Development Goals will serve as a reference framework and a source of inspiration.
However, the education ministers will not be able to disregard recent events and developments. To what extent will the COVID-19 pandemic leave its mark on the Bologna Process and on the internationalisation of education? Will international student mobility return to its former level? What shifts will we see? And what are the consequences for the international mobility of teaching staff and researchers? We can in any event conclude that the pandemic has significantly boosted online teaching, from which we can also reap the benefits in the future.
The new Erasmus Programme (2021-2027) will be launched in 2021. Higher education institutions have already been given the opportunity to submit an application for a new Erasmus Charter for Higher Education (ECHE), outlining their plans for the years ahead. As we stated earlier in Chapter 7 of this module, the Erasmus Programme is a key driver for the implementation of the Bologna Process in the higher education institutions. Even though the European Commission intends to increase the budget for the programme considerably, it is not yet clear whether this will actually happen. Not just the COVID-19 pandemic will have an impact on the budget; Brexit, Britain’s departure from the European Union, will also have an impact.
A number of current themes in the Netherlands are also relevant, such as the increasing number of higher education programmes taught in English and the funding of European students wishing to pursue a full-time study programme in the Netherlands. Despite public criticism on a number of developments, the Dutch education minister has reiterated the value of internationalisation for students, education institutions and the Dutch knowledge economy, as well as the involvement of the Netherlands in the Bologna Process and the European Higher Education Area.