Bologna Process at NUI Galway

The Bologna Process is a higher education reform process that began in 2009, when HE ministers of 29 European countries signed the Bologna Declaration. The main aim detailed under the declaration was to work together to create a European Higher Education Area by 2010 that would encourage mobility of staff and students on a European and international scale.

The process was to be implemented by focusing on six action lines, which were added to at the 2001 and 2003 ministerial meetings. By 2009, there were 10 objectives or action lines. A history of the Bologna Process to date, detailing the main priorities identified at each of the biennial ministerial meetings is available here.

Bologna Priorities (2010 - 2020)

In 2010, the original 'due date', the number of signatories stood at 47 countries, and at the 2010 ministerial meeting discussion focussed on what the next steps should be.  A number of higher education priorities were identified, which now take the place of the original action lines.  Those priorities are:

  • social dimension;
  • equitable access and completion;
  • lifelong learning;
  • employability;
  • student-centred learning and the teaching mission of higher education;
  • education, research and innovation;
  • international openness;
  • mobility;
  • data collection;
  • multidimensional transparency tools;
  • funding.

The Bologna Follow-up Group has set up seven working groups for the 2009-2012 period: Social dimension, Qualifications frameworks, International openness, Mobility, Recognition, Reporting on the implementation of the Bologna Process, and Transparency mechanisms.

Up to date information on the Bologna Process can be found at the official Bologna Process website for the period 2010-2012:

Bologna Tools

Underpinning the success of the action lines/priorities of the priorities are a number of tools, many of which were already (successfully) in use in Higher Education Systems pre-Bologna and were simply adopted by the Bologna Process:

  • Learning Outcomes
  • ECTS
  • Qualifications Frameworks
  • Diploma Supplement

The Bologna Process in NUI Galway

In Ireland, unlike other European countries the reform necessary to apply some of the principles of the Bologna Process has been limited. For example, Ireland already operated a 3 - 4 year undergraduate degree as opposed to other countries such as Spain or Germany where it is/was quite routine to study an undergraduate programme for up to 7 years.

Some of the changes to Irish Higher Education that may resonate most with NUI Galway staff would be, for example, the requirement to describe programmes and modules in terms of Learning Outcomes, the specification of ECTS for programmes and modules and an improved system of Quality Assurance.

Other reforms that may be less apparent are, for example, the introduction of a National Framework of Qualifications, within which all accredited educational qualifications must be situated, or policy and procedures for the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

There are supports in place within the university to assist with many of the reforms associated with the Bologna Process and we would encourage you to contact us at the email address listed (in Help and Resources) below if you have particular concerns or questions.

Help and Resources

Internal Resources:

Information Guides and Resources (see below)

There is now a dedicated mailbox for Bologna Process queries: While we may not be able to answer all queries directly, we will try to direct you to the appropriate contact.

External resources:

Download Taking Stock: Ten Years of the Bologna Process in Ireland, Edwin Mernagh (2010)

Official Bologna Process website 2010-2012:

HEA Bologna information website

QA273 The National Framework of Qualifications

A two page guide to the National Framework of Qualifications- a single framework designed to aid the development, recognition and awarding of qualifications within Irish Education.

Download a PDF version of the QA273 National Framework of Qualifications‌ guide.

QA274 ECTS Quick Guide

A two page guide to the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS)

Download a PDF version of the QA274 ECTS guide