German students, universities: Bologna’s promise of “more with less” is just “less”

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There has been much discussion of the Bologna Process – the effort to harmonize Europe’s higher education credentials – in Ontario lately, thanks largely to the Government of Ontario’s desire to create a three-year, Bologna-style credential. Two stories, out earlier this month, suggest that Ontario should be wary of copying the European model.

The University World News reports that the heads of Germany’s higher education institution believe the three-year credential “are failing to supply the graduates the country needs.” Moreover, they are not preparing students for academic careers or advanced research:

At traditional universities, [president of the Hochschulrektorenkonferenz, Horst] Hippler said, bachelor degrees may provide a vocational qualification, but it is simply not sufficient for an academic career.

“A bachelor in physics will never be a physicist,” he maintained.

Der Spiegal has a piece outlining student concerns with the Bologna three-year credentials. Namely, students are complaining that the new three-year bachelor’s degrees do not give them enough time to cover the necessary material, too little opportunity to raise money to fund their studies, and lead to over-crowded Master’s programs.

Certainly good reason to be cautious about importing Bologna to Ontario. OCUFA has long argued that three-year degrees are a reckless reform that will limit student mobility and hurt the quality of education received by students. The German example confirms that recklessness is no way to change a university system.

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