segunda-feira, março 15, 2010

Students demonstrate against University System (Parliament Occupation @ Vienna, March 11th)

Thousands of university students demonstrated Thursday [Vienna, March 11] to protest a conference commemorating the 10th anniversary of The Bologna Process, a program aimed at promoting the reform of European higher education.
Continue to read the text...In defense of the program, Science Minister Beatrix Karl said at the conference that the education reforms will greatly contribute to the integration of young people into the world andcreate unlimited opportunitiesfor Austrian university students.

In June 1999, the European Ministers of Education from 29 countries met in the Italian city of Bologna and jointly signed the Bologna Declaration. The declaration laid out work plans with the objective of realizing integration in the fields of European higher education and technology, as well as construction of the European Higher Education Area.

The goal of The Bologna Process was to establish a unified European higher education system till 2010, including a unified higher education accreditation between European countries and realization of the mutual integration of higher education.

The reform program includes such measures as the unification of quality standards and education system reforms to achieve a mutual recognition of the credits and degrees among universities from different European countries. According to the reform program, the degrees of higher education of the European countries will be unified into bachelor, master and doctorate.

Any university diplomas and achievements of the participating countries in the process will be recognized by other participating countries. University graduates from these countries can apply for a study of higher degree courses and seek employment without any barriers in other countries.

The new system of bachelor degree in Austria was also based on that process.

Karl said at the conference that the implementation of The Bologna Process will create a unified European education area where students will be able to have a more free and flexible access to the opportunities of learning, graduation and further education. She said that under the current environment of globalization, the Austrian university students must adapt to international competition.

However, about 85 percent of Austrian students believed that some contents of The Bologna Process concerning the higher education system such as the addition of a bachelor degree will greatly shorten the time in the institutions of higher learning.

In addition, the mutual recognition of credits and qualifications between universities in European countries may also cause Austrian universities to be overcrowded by the students from other countries, resulting in a significant increase in the number of graduates and a range of issues like the difficulty for further education and employment for Austrian graduates.

The Bologna Process has been strongly opposed by most Austrian students and was a major reason leading to an Austrian student movement in October 2009.

Georg Winkler, principal of the University of Vienna, said that the Bologna Process has brought a heavy burden on the universities in Austria. For example, over the last six years, the budget of the University of Vienna increased by 5 percent while the number of its students rose by 25 percent. The vast majority of new students are from other European countries.

However, the principal also pointed out that the reform can contribute to the European integration of Austrian higher education and the employment of its graduates, enabling more Austrian young people to be able to have higher education and employment in other European countries.

So far, 47 countries have participated in "the Bologna Process".

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