Work programme of the Bologna Follow-Up Group 2003-2005
Seminar on Bachelor's Degree: What is it
The Seminar's main objective is to give an up-to-date overview of the processes of introducing two-tier systems, especially in countries where this tradition is relatively new. The seminar will focus on the first cycle - that of the Bachelor's level.
The seminar was jointly organised by the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation, the Committee for Education and Science of the State Duma, St. Petersburg State University and the Council of Europe. It was attended by around 150 participants from Russia and 30 participants from 13 other countries. The working languages were English and Russian. General Rapporteur was Sverre Rustad from the BFUG Secretariat.
The seminar had a double focus, in that part of the discussion was concerned with general characteristics of the bachelor’s degree and the benefits and possible disadvantages of a two- (three-) cycle structure, whereas another part was concerned more particularly with the situation in Russia. In the general part, employability and the relation to the labour market was a special theme. There was consensus that bachelor programmes should have a balance between generic and specialist skills, with an emphasis on learning to learn, and that the relations between higher education institutions and employers need to be strengthened. Not least is this the case in Russia, where the bachelor’s degree is not well known or accepted and where employers tend to favour traditional integrated programmes. In general more emphasis should be placed on stimulating the creative development of the student, and all bachelor programmes should therefore be research- based.
With regard to the situation in Russia, focus was on the extent and pace of change. It was argued that moving too quickly would risk throwing over board valuable elements of the existing system and thus reducing standards. At present the two-cycle degree structure is voluntary for the institutions, and there were different views on whether it should be made obligatory. On the other hand there seemed to be a general consensus that the bachelor’s degree in Russia should have a duration of 4 years due to the low entry level (11 years of school) compared with many other countries.
The following conclusions and recommendations were submitted to the BFUG:
- Taking into account the significant role played by the humanities and social sciences in curricula in terms of ensuring generic competences, and at the same time widely divergent views and practices concerning the number of credits allocated to the humanities in different study programmes, the seminar recommended to set up a special working group for the study of the role to be played by the humanities in higher education.
- Proceeding from the general agreement that bachelor-level programmes are meant to ensure sufficiently broad competences, programme designers are recommended to pay special attention to interdisciplinary and field-specific modules. Based on existing descriptors the structure of competences would then be as follows: generic competences, interdisciplinary competences, field-specific competences and subject-specific competences.
- In designing bachelor-level study programmes for higher education, the designers should pay more attention to labour-market requirements and challenges.
- It was recommended to amend the position taken by the Bologna Declaration to make it clear that access to doctoral studies shall require a completed master’s degree.
Source: General Report to the Bologna Follow-Up Group to the Conference of European Ministers Responsible for Higher Education - Bergen 19/20 May 2005
Bologna Process between Berlin and Bergen
Report by Rapporteur
Outcomes of previous studies, Vadim Kasevich (University of St. Petersburg) and Nelli Rozina (Ministry of Education and Science, Russian Federation)
Case study: Dr. Gerhard Duda, (HRK, Germany)
Case study: Sirkka-Leena Hörkkö, (Ministry of Education, Finland)
Bachelor-level degree and labour market (in Russian), Gennady Lukichev
Bachelor’s Degrees: The Students’ Perspective, Nicolaas Heerens (ESIB)
Rapporteur's summary of day 1, Sverre Rustad (The Secretariat of the BFUG)