The EHEA/BFUG members are 48 countries and the European Commission. To become a member of the EHEA, countries have to be party to the European Cultural Convention and to declare their willingness to pursue and implement the objectives of the Bologna Process in their own systems of higher education.
With a view to possible future applications, the BFUG at its meeting in Madrid on 18-19 February 2010 agreed to review the criteria for accession to the Bologna Process/the European Higher Education Area and to assess whether they are still fit for purpose or need to be updated.
Requirements for membership of the EHEA
The existing criteria for admission of new members to the European Higher Education Area were set by the 2003 Berlin Communiqué:
Being party to the European Cultural Convention
The decision to use the European Cultural Convention as a criterion was meant to provide a clear definition of the possible geographical scope of the European Higher Education Area, given that all countries party to the Convention at the time were considered part of geographical Europe and it was not expected that any additional country would be invited to join the Convention. It was also intended to ensure that this definition was decided by competent political authorities since accession to the European Cultural Convention is subject to a decision by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and hence by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, see below.
The full list of countries that have ratified the European Cultural Convention (Treaty 018), is available on the Council of Europe website. At present, there are only two countries that are party to the European Cultural Convention but not part of the EHEA (yet): Monaco and San Marino. All two expressed interest in joining the Bologna Process at some stage but up till now, none of them has submitted a formal application.
Commitment to the principles and objectives of the Bologna Process
For accession to the European Higher Education Area, the criterion of being party to the European Cultural Convention was complemented by a second criterion to ensure commitment to and implementation of the goals and principles of the Bologna Process / the EHEA.
In the context of previous accessions, applicant countries were requested to confirm their adherence to the following principles:
- International mobility of students and staff;
- Autonomous higher education institutions;
- Student participation in the governance of higher education;
- Public responsibility for higher education;
- The social dimension of the Bologna Process.
The application had to be complemented by a report, detailing the higher education policies of the country in the light of the Bologna Process and outlining how the principles and objectives of the Bologna Process had been and/or would be implemented.
Procedure for application
The decision to accept new members to the European Higher Education Area is taken by the Ministers responsible for higher education in the countries participating in the Bologna Process – so far, this has always happened at Ministerial Conferences.
Countries wishing to join the Bologna Process can contact the Bologna Secretariat for precisions regarding the application procedure.