Globalization and liberalization are two factors that greatly impact on the potential that nations have for generating value. Of the numerous dynamics that affect the society in the current operational environment, globalization comes up as the most influential due to the effect that it has on nearly all sectors of the modern economies (Neal 129).
With increase in interaction between different communities a need for standardization has developed due to difference in standards and approaches that are employed across different societies (Lee 43). Electronic standard, wireless protocols, international courts and trading blocks have all come up as a result of the need to standardize approaches that the current societies use.
The European which is the largest trading block globally has also come to terms with the fact that there is need for standardization especially in the area of higher education thus the Bologna accord (Loosvelt and Gysen 163). However, the effect of standardization of higher education is viewed differently with some claiming that it impacts positively on the education standards in Europe while some positing to the fact that it could reduce flexibility and therefore relevance of the education system to individual societies (Alesi and RosznyaI, 396).
This study employs the aid of existing researches and theories to explore the effects of the Bologna process including its advantage on both employers and employees with the aim of seeking to develop a clear picture of its implication and areas that may need further address to ensure that Europe optimizes gains in its educational and social systems. The Bologna Process The main motivation to the Bologna accord was to ensure increased compatibility of higher education standards across Europe (Van Biesen and Rahier 222). The naming of the Bologna process follows directly from the Italian city in which it was signed (Dobren’kova 46).
Though 29 nations were the initial signatories to the process, the number has increased with time. The signing of the Bologna process is considered the end process of numerous processes notably in Germany and Western Europe universities that were aimed at harmonization of the architecture or systems that is used in higher education (Lindblom-Ylanne and Hamalainen 161). Nearly all members of the council of Europe are signatories to the accord through there are nations that despite applying were denied a position to be in the process.
The basic approach that is employed by the Bologna process employs three stages or cycles of higher education qualification. The main defining factors of the Bologna process are the qualification and ECTS credits. Bachelor’s degree, masters and doctoral degrees are some of the key variables that are considered under qualification. Most nations in Europe employ the 3-2-3 year cycle to ensure completions of the three levels in higher education as per the Bologna accord (Malan 295). Though the actual naming of the degree course may vary from one nation to the other, an academic year is standardized to 60 ECTS credits (Pusztai and Szabo 102).
There is a clear correlation between this new system and the approaches that are employed in North America and even in Japan with many researchers and educators stating that this may be the way forward with respect to global education (Becker 265). A noticeable change that is a result of the Bologna process is more emphasis being awarded to practical training and even research projects. This is in line with developments in education that have generally been geared towards adoption of approaches that are more practice oriented.
The credits being a measure of the input that students have in their education is reflective of not just the overall cognitive abilities but also presentation skills (Patricio and Engelsen 601) innovation, hours spent studying and even general skills (Tauch 277). Many education experts are of the view that this development brings educations closer to the society and requirements in practice where theoretical and practical skills are all important in ensuring efficiency and improvement of the nature of practice.
The main issues that the Bologna process sought to address arise from responsibility in higher education, governance, research, values, changes in the nature of society and increase in complexity that institutions and organizations face which has led to high qualification needs. With the implementations of the Bologna process educations is provided with higher flexibility that makes it easier for students to move from one institution to the other within Europe (Berner and Richter 251).
Other benefits that have come up as result of the Bologna process include increased attractiveness of higher education in Europe, a broader higher education framework that places emphasis on quality and advancement of knowledge base and an increase in the levels of convergence between US and Europe with respect to higher education standards which increases the scope of education and its absorption of European students into mainstream job markets.
Like all change processes the Bologna process was criticized from some quarters with some being of the view that the framework adopted favored the UK especially England and Ireland while presenting numerous difficulties to continental Europe nations (Vogel 133). Economic and Academic Background Higher education like all other systems in the current society is affected by increase in cost of operations. Many educators are of the view that the basic factor that underpins a number of plans developed by the EU is economic consideration and this is reflected in the Bologna process.
Researchers and education theorists are of the view that the Bologna process is aimed at enlarging the higher education system in Europe with the aim of cutting down on cost and therefore ensuring a Europe wide standardization (Beertsen 107). The changes are cited as being in line strategies that have been proposed by the WTO and GATS in education that have generally been aimed at minimizing and even eliminating the control that political systems have over higher education.
The academic aspect is considered central to the numerous differential viewpoints that have been developed of the role of the Bologna process in ensuring that educational goals are met (Moshkin 10). In fact nearly all controversies that surround the Bologna process have their basis on the academic and social impact of the Bologna process rather than the impact that it could have on economies. Continental Europe nations mainly employ a model that was inspired by the German educational system where a clear difference existed between vocational and academic training (Ash 264).
This system from the upgrades that it has received was viewed as counter-productive thus the adoption of a system that is in line with the English. The main areas that were of concern under such an educational system which was employed by a majority of continental Europe nations is the fact that vocational training was not developed with the aim of further studies. Masters level education was a minimum level requirement in some fields for instance engineering which limited the applicability of Bachelors level education in some fields (Chuchalin 200).
Moreover, the continental approach to Bachelors degree did not prepare the students for employment rather it was aimed at preparing them for master’s level education. This reduced the skills that such students had and the level of efficiency that they display in the workforce. Despite the disparity in level of skills that Bachelors level student displayed with respect to their ability to manage workforce issues, they were awarded the same title as engineers.
One of the key implications of the Bologna process is therefore an urgent need for steps that are aimed at harmonization of professional bodies which requires revaluation and in some cases change in qualification (Hibbert 34). Moreover a number of key assumptions that have been made by the Bologna process have been under spotlight for instance 60 ECTS per year requirement is based on the assumption that 1500-1800 hours will be available in a year which presents a complexity in its implementation if it is considered that it does not standardize semesters.
Other critics claim that some courses were just redefined with no change in course content or requirement which due to ECTS requirements effectively implies additional demand with little gain (Sanz and van der 34). These are some of the key issues that have been highlighted as being central to controversies surrounding the objectivity in implementation of the Bologna process.
However, the fact that it is being employed and nations seek being signatories implies that an understanding of the benefits is critical in determining the areas that it could be lacking in and therefore the development that can be incorporated to ensure that the society gains for it is the future of European education. Implication on Selected Educational Systems A review of selected educational systems shows that the implications of the Bologna accord have had differential effects across Europe. The Finish system of higher education was least affected by the implementation of the Bologna accord.
The major changes are the inclusion of engineering and military programs into masters and bachelors systems and increase in adoption of English as the main language. A course that has basically remained the same as it was before the adoption of the Bologna accord is medicine which still runs on a five years program (Cooper 259). The Italian system was based on award of a degree after the first three years of undergraduate level education that had no value in the market unless one went ahead and finished graduate level course has changed considerably.
A three plus two year system has been adopted though there are some exceptions to the structure of “Nuovo ordinamento” (Kilic 319). Medicine and some areas of science have not changed and place a requirement of up to six years of undergraduate level education before one can proceed to master’s level. In UK the implication of the Bologna accord differs with the nations. The educational systems in England, Scotland and Wales display some significant differences due to the nature of their formulation. The England system though relaying some similarities to the Italian system is fundamentally different from others in Europe (Georgantopoulou 13).
In Wales it was possible for a student straight from high school to undertake a program that would lead to attainment of a master’s degree without having to undergo undergraduate level education. The Scottish system which is one of a kind due to the flexibility that it offers lower level educational stakeholders like school heads to formulate curricula was also affected considerably. Under the Bologna accord all this systems can actively seek educational goals and students can easily transfer from one institution to the other without having to worry about the grade that he has attained and even difficulty in integrating into the new system.
There is no doubt that the Bologna accord has played an important role in convergence of standards that are used in higher level education which is an important factor in ensuring that the role of the EU in ensuring labor mobility is attained. Employers Advantages Pro Bologna Reform activists are generally of the view that it is the best development that has happened in Europe’s educational systems for a long time (Stallmann 24). This is the same view that is held by computing enthusiasts on the level of development that computing has attained due to the standardization of protocols.
Standardization is generally perceived as an avenue through which development within any industry can be molded in a manner that increases the level of interrelationship between existing systems. A melange of degree titles defined the higher education systems in Europe before the implementation of the Bologna accord. The effects of the confused state on European employees were high due to the effect of EU policies that were seeking economic integration (Rauhvargers 341). Employers found it hard to develop an objective measure that could be used in determining the potential of job seekers by objectively assessing their academic credentials.
Under such an environment the benefits that European nations sought through economic integration and ensuring workforce mobility was reduced. Business and management education is one of the areas that have been affected by the Bologna accord. Globally employers and HR executives were becoming more confused with the bachelor, Lauren and Diplomkaufmann titles that were held by jobseekers (Verhesschen and Verburgh 134). Complexity in assessing the potential of a job applicant is further brought out if the array of master’s degree programs that were offered is considered.
The effects of the Bologna accord are numerous and impact on not just the educational systems or employers but also governments (Sanz 141). Countries that have employed the Bologna accord are more likely to partake in the benefits that it offers especially with respect to reducing the recurring costs of higher education. Moreover, the quality and competitive degree programs that are offered under the Bologna accord present such nations with an edge with respect to attracting students into their institutions. Such students may play a role in ensuring overall development in host nations.
The benefits that the Bologna accord present with respect to predictable educational budget, fixed course durations, predictable enrolment and graduation rates which aid in budgeting and educational planning and shorter graduate study will play a role in ensuring that the span of productivity is increased (Giuliano 103). The introduction of shorter masters degree level courses that is pushed for by the Bologna Accord will play an important role in ensuring that education in Europe is compatible to standards that are being employed in other nations.
In a global environment where commercialization of education is widespread the international students that pay considerably higher than their domestic counterparts will pave a way for the education systems to gain more revenues. However, a number of issues arise relating the specific details in implementing the strategies. Language is a key issue that has been central in discussions relating to success that can be attained in ensuring integration. Generally English being the most developed and popular language in global circles has been adopted by a number of masters programs.
Relaxation of immigration and permit requirements has come up as one of the areas that governments must be wary of to ensure gains from the Bologna process (Griffin 98). Such a process must be carried out in tandem with simplifications of visa conversion from study to employment if Europe to gain the most out of the benefits presented by the Bologna accord. The nature of strategies and even systems that are employed by the education systems is affected by workforce requirements.
Employer requirements are cited as critical factors in determining the curricular and even activities that are embedded into school systems especially at higher level of learning. Higher education strategies are highly dependent on the nature of requirements that they are placed on social systems (Sakari 179). Employees are cited as playing a key role in determining the level of success that can be attained in implementing the Bologna accord. Unless employers can actively seek and employ Bachelors level graduates then the value of this level of education will be lost across Europe.
Researchers are of the view that though standardization has been achieved with the adoption of the Bologna accord by various stakeholders’ success in its implementations is highly dependent on collaboration between employers, instructors and evens students. Unless higher education seeks to develop critical lifelong learners the benefits that employers stand to gain from the Bologna accord are minimal. This is in line with the fact that employers having realized the role played by critical reflective skills spend consummate funds on development of interpersonal, leadership and communication skills (Widerberg 137).
The key challenge that European educational institutions face in ensuring success with the aid of the Bologna accord is to provide students with high transformational potential that will ensure they are easily employed. As the Bologna accord takes root, many will seek graduate level education and therefore employers will be provided with a far much wider pool of experienced job seekers to choose from. This is one of the key goals that were sought in formulating the EU.
Moreover, a clear description of the course presents a common approach to assessment that encompasses all areas that employers seek and aid in accurately determining the exact qualifications required for a given job title (Jaschke and Neidhardt 306). Employees have to take steps in ensuring that their requirements and overall HR departments are aware of the differing qualifications that are offered by institutions. Despite initiatives that have sought employment of Bachelors degree holders, it is generally believed that master’s level education will continue being a key prerequisite for entry into mainstream employment (Zgaga 253).
However, most researchers are of the view that this condition can be reversed with the input of the public sector which is in fact the largest employer in all European nations. If the public sector seeks bachelor’s level education then there is a high likelihood that other employers with follow suit which will aid in ensuring Bologna accord goals are attained. With time and maturity of the job market, both bachelors and graduate job seekers will be effectively absorbed into the job market thus increased workforce availability.
Another benefit that employers stand to gain from business oriented degrees is their ability to offer a platform upon which bachelors degree holders from other fields can seek further studies in business related subjects (Labi A36). Such a process leads to graduates who have diversified skills that are relevant to global operational environment. It is important to note that experience has been highlighted as one of the factors that greatly determines the pay and even suitability of an employee irrespective of the level of education that one has attained. Employees
The Bologna accord is considered a platform upon which students are presented with new opportunities that they can effectively use in sidelining the long cycle to seeking graduate level education into stages with increase in platform upon which they can seek further education. Increased student mobility associated with the accord is likely to present the platform upon which employees can seek further their careers. The choice though complicated offers students with the opportunity to either continues with their education or seek employment after undergraduate level which presents a wider platform for decision making.
This is further complicated by the multitude of courses that students have in choosing the course or areas of specialization at graduate level. This is likely to lead to an increase in the levels of diversity that is displayed by employees which may directly translate to increase in the level of competition in the job market or reduced competition depending on the qualification that a employees display (Konjic and Sarajlic 219). The Bologna accord is also cited as being a catalyst to increased academic activities across Europe.
Employees are under increased pressure to ensure that they update their skills and acquire multiple skills to develop in their areas of professionalism. Another area that employees are likely to benefit from is applicability of their skills. A factor that has for a long time been central to the difficulties that students and even employees face in making the most out of the freedom that they are presented by the EU is language barrier and the differential systems that were used across Europe (Sandstrom 61).
The Bologna accord presents a standardized education system that predominantly uses English as the main mode of transmission thus increased availability of jobs in even areas that were least accessed due to language barriers. Another area that the Bologna accord has impacted on is decision making. Most employers often consider their jobs as their source of livelihood. Decision making as one of the most important variable that determine the direction that one’s life will take is complicated by the number of options that one has (Augusti 258).
The Bologna accord presented employees and students with multiple options on which to base their professional development each of which impact directly in the quality of education that they can attain. Having such a large basis presents complexity in decision making which may even lead to the development of firms that seeks to guide professionals into their career paths. This is an example of a development and even complexity that is presented with standardization of education across Europe. Employers awareness
There is a large potential that has been presented to European employees with respect to seeking suitable candidates by the Bologna accord (Adelman 11). However, surveys across Europe show that the level of awareness that employers have of the potential that is presented by the Bologna accord is low (Jung-Eun 36). Generally the low level of awareness that employers have of the accord is a worrying situation considering the role that employers have to play in ensuring that its goals are attained.
Numerous independent studies have shown that up to 64% of employers are unaware of the existence of Bologna process in the UK (Shearman 177). The same trends are observed in Finland with a far much grim picture painted in Italy where up to 80% of the employers are not aware of the existence of the Bologna process (Guth 331). These statistics paint a grim situation and a clear need for politicians and policy makers to work round the clock to ensure that the state is corrected failure to which the potential benefits that could be attained with the implementation of the accord may never be experienced.
A far worse picture is created if research findings on employers that are informed on the internal details of the accord are considered. Basically less than 5% of all employers in Europe are aware of the details relating to the implementation of the accord and the implications that it could have on the nature of the job market (Salzer 656). Awareness is first developing on this poor state in implementation of the accord and has led to a number of taskforces and even researches that have sought to determine corrective measures that can be put in place to ensure that the initial goals of the accord are driven at (Wex 76).
The measures not only seek to raise the levels of awareness that employers have of the Bologna accord but are also aimed at devising systems and means through which employers can reduce their transaction costs when seeking new employees (Burnett 287). A systematic exchange of information between parties that are involved in the Bologna accord is one of the recommendations that have been developed to aid address the worrying situation.
Sharing experiences between students has also been cited as a possible avenue to ensuring that future employers are aware of the benefits presented by the Bologna accord in the higher education framework in Europe (Witte and van der Wende 217). Increased involvement of employers and career advisers by developing information packages that are targeted at this audience is one of the directions that can be sought in ensuring that career goals are accurately sought. Analysis A deeper analysis of the Bologna accord shows that it has implications that may be further than the current economic effect that it is assessed under.
The EU as an economic system is an important factor in determining the level of efficiency that can be attained with the application of the accord and is a critical reference point with respect to its effect on the political, social and organizational systems (Veiga and Amaral 61). From the discussions it is apparent that though the freedom that is presented by the EU in terms of movement serves as an effective platform for the Bologna accord, there are several policy issues that are yet to be addressed that would ensure ease of movement and even transformation of students into active workforce.
The effects of globalization and an improved information system together present an effective platform upon which students from different cultural backgrounds can easily interact to ensure gain from the education system (Karran 7). Though there have been some resistance to the implementation of the accord the levels of adoption that it has received is reflective of the growing appreciation of its relevance in consideration of the nature of the modern society. Multiculturalism is fast developing within Europe which presents a suitable avenue to ensuring ease in accessing employees of different background.
This diversity that is presented to employers is cited as being a critical ingredient to generating value in competitive business segments (Sall and Ndjaye 47). However, an understanding of the complexity that is associated with management of diversity has to be developed for any value to be generated. Though diversity is associated with generation of value, an understanding of how it can effectively be managed is important in ensuring that this benefit is gained. In general there are a number of strengths and benefits that are associated with the Bologna accord.
One of the notable threats is the erosion of the level of awareness that curricula have to issues that are of interest to a particular society (Gaston 17). The implementation of the Bologna accord is based on the assumption that the effects of globalization in Europe is high to the extent that Europe can be considered a single society that is faced with similar educational challenges. The reality is that Europe is diverse and made up of both developed and developing nations that have different needs and are of different perception on what can be considered an effective higher educational system.
Recommendations Though the goals and even theory beneath the implementation of the Bologna accord are noble, practical implementation issues pose a threat to the achievement of its objectives. Creating awareness among employees and developing further avenues for employment are some of the issues that have to be addressed in seeking its goals. Incorporation of other nations in the EU is also important in ensuring that overall development of the EU as a region is attained (Petit and Foriers 16).
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