Work programme 2012-2015
Ad-Hoc Working Group on the Third Cycle 2012-2015
At their Bucharest meeting in 2012, Ministers of the EHEA asked for policy recommendations on how to improve transparency, quality, employability, internationalization and mobility in the third cycle. The Bologna Follow-Up Group decided to develop the policy recommendations by establishing an ad hoc working group on the third cycle as a sub-structure of the "Structural Reforms" Working Group.
The ad hoc group on the third cycle has been set up by the BFUG in 2012 to contribute to the realization of the plan of work for the period 2012 – 2015. The group is included as sub structure of the Structural Reforms Working Group. It is co–chaired by representatives of Italy, Romania and Spain. The group has met five times (in Rome in December 2012, in Bucharest in May 2013, in Madrid in October 2013, in Bucharest in February 2014 and in Rome in May 2014). The membership of the group includes Armenia, Austria, Belgium/Flemish Community, Belgium/French Community, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, the Holy See, Hungary, Ireland, Moldova, Poland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, the European Commission, the EUA, EI, and EURODOC.
Within a broader framework of overseeing and improving the implementation of structural reforms in the EHEA under the responsibility of the Structural Reform WG (SRWG), the BFUG decided to develop the policy recommendation set by Ministers by setting up an ad–hoc working group on the Third cycle as a sub-structure of the SRWG. The recommendations proposed apply to all EHEA participating countries, to their Ministers and to all participating Higher Educations Institutions.
The ad-hoc WG established according to the Bucharest commitment prepared its report and the Structural Reforms WG acknowledging the importance of the topic proposed that its recommendations are directly discussed by the BFUG.
The ad-hoc WG on the third cycle developed a substantial report and presented it separately to the BFUG for discussion. Certain proposals from the ad-hoc WG’s report fed into the corresponding part in the SR WG draft final report.
At the BFUG Meeting in Rome on 27-28 November 2014, a thematic session on the Third Cycle was organized. The BFUG evaluated the report of the Third Cycle ad-hoc WG as being very inspiring to bring forward the discussion. Due to several arguable points it was decided to take note of the report as an internal working document of the BFUG and make the final version available to the public.
Introduction of the final report
The present report summarizes the work of the group during his mandate. The report has been edited by the co-chairs team, composed by Italy (Marzia Foroni and Nicola Vittorio), Romania (Cezar Haj and Horia Iovu) and Spain (Gloria Molero). The contents and recommendations have been discussed and shared with all members of the group. The mandate of the group as well as a list of all the documents developed during its mandate can be found in annex.
According to the mandate given by ministers at the Bucharest Ministerial Conference (2012), the working group looked at ‘how to promote quality, transparency, employability and mobility in the third cycle’, with a view to ensuring that the third cycle contributes to bridging the EHEA and ERA. The quality of the second cycle was also seen as a pre-requisite in fostering the knowledge triangle: teaching, learning and research and thus attention was paid to the transition between the second and the third cycle in the present report.
The report is divided in three main sessions. The first session “Mapping the implementation of the Salzburg Recommendations and of the Principles for Innovative Doctoral Training” summarizes the main developments in Doctoral training of the last ten years around the issues of institutional strategies, structured training, advancement of knowledge and exposure to industry, employability and entrepreneurship, mobility and internationalization. The second session “Implementing the structural reforms in the third cycle” looks at the achievement in the introduction of qualifications frameworks, of transparency instruments and of quality assurance with special attention for Doctoral training and draws recommendations on how to improve the implementation of structural reform. The third session on “Implementing policy reforms in the third cycle” looks at the achievements of institutional, national and European policies on innovation of programmes, on employability, on internationalization and mobility and draws recommendations on further improvements.
Note: Throughout the text, the terms “Doctoral training” (instead of Doctoral education) will be used. The choice, made by consensus, does not imply that Doctoral training is not part of the three cycle system. The group acknowledges the fact that there are elements related to “education” in the programme, that candidates are asked, in some countries more than in others, to learn during the Doctoral programme and that they are considered also as “students”. On the other side, the terms “Doctoral training” reflects more clearly the distinctive feature of Doctoral education as research-based programme. Similarly, the term “learning outcomes” has been often substituted with “outcomes” or “skills and competencies” to be achieved by the student. The learning process is not the only activity carried by the candidate, therefore a more open terminology was needed. In addition, depending on the national and institutional context, the understanding is that not always outcomes can be pre-defined. Sometimes, it is more straightforward for transversal skills and competences and, more rarely, it is so with the outcomes of research.