I will only say two things about the process represented by the Sorbonne Declaration, the Declaration of Bologna and its subsequent revision in Prague. First of all, the extension of the circle of the people involved: the Sorbonne Declaration was a very narrow declaration, signed by four Ministers of Education and determined by political rather than academic considerations. I cannot speak for what happened in Germany, France and Italy, but I am certainly aware that in Britain, the Minister did not consult the universities in any way before signing in Sorbonne.
The idea of drafting a declaration of academic rights emerged from a meeting of some of Europe’s oldest universities held in Bologna in 1986. The proposal was taken up with considerable enthusiasm and meetings with a number of Rectors and Vice-Chancellors in Bologna in 1987. This led to the setting up of an editorial committee, the members of which are listed in the document. It was distributed on 18 September 1988. Some 430 universities were represented in the signing of the document in Bologna.
I was asked to comment on the Prague Declaration and meeting. I don’t know whether you realise that May 2001 was quite rich intellectually: there were several important speeches dealing with the future of Europe. Perhaps to us, the most important event was a meeting of the 32 signatories of the Sorbonne and Bologna Declarations. Ministers who gathered in Prague confirmed their commitment to the objective and establishing of the European Higher Education area by 2010.
I think a common point of both speakers was the meaning of “European” in a “European university system,” what I might describe as a kind of centralist approach. I wanted to follow up what Professor Pombeni said about the supranational nature of higher education. In the first sense, of course, higher education should not be nationalistic, and the supranational nature might be true for natural sciences. However, on the other hand there might be differences between our social sciences and humanities.
The discussion has been summarised to highlight key points. Every attempt has been made to reflect the spirit of the debate. Where it is helpful, contributors to the debate have been identified.
European integration at the postgraduate level
There has been very little distinction been made between graduate and undergraduate studies. As the Bologna declaration becomes more widely implemented and we get an increasingly two-tier degree system, perhaps European integration is more positively pursued at the masters level.