Bologna Process (12 May 06)

Date: 12 May, 2006
Location: Senate House, Malet Street, University of London
Event type: Seminar

Programme | Abstracts | Event reports

workshop attendees

"Ministers encourage the Member states to elaborate a comparable and compatible framework of qualifications for their higher education systems, which should seek to define qualifications in terms of workload, level, learning outcomes, competencies and profile."

Berlin Communiqué 2003

Past event summary

This seminar reported on the latest developments in the Bologna Process relating to the 'framework of qualifications' (e.g. the Diploma supplement, ECTs) and explored some of the key issues relating to credit transfer, quality assurance and learning outcomes in the UK and across Europe. The event had a particular focus on the Humanities and included case reports on the latest discussion on the academic issues at European level.

The event was of interest to senior managers, international officers, curriculum developers and subject practitioners in the Humanities.

Programme for 12 May 2006
Time Session
10.30 - 11.00 Registration and coffee
11:00 - 11.10 Welcome and introduction from the Chair
Bill Brooks, Director of Education, University of Southampton
11.10 - 11.40 Current developments in the Bologna Process
Tish Bourke, The Europe Unit, Universities UK
11.40 - 12.10 Quality assurance and enhancement in European Higher Education
Carolyn Campbell, Quality Assurance Agency
12.10 - 12.40 The Bologna Process: the mobility challenge
John Reilly, Director, UK Socrates-Erasmus Council and Bologna Promoter
12.40 - 13.40 Lunch
13.40 - 14.10 The Bologna Process and implications for Modern Languages
Malcolm Cook, Bologna promoter, Professor of French, University of Exeter
14.10 - 14.40 Tuning and the History subject area
Joaquim Carvalho (History), Professor of History University of Coimbra, Portugal (Member of the EU Tuning Project 2001-2006)
14.40 - 15.10 The Bologna Process and English Studies
Graham Caie, Professor of English Language, University of Glasgow
15.10 - 15.30 Tea
15.30 - 16.00 How wide is the Channel? Mundus, British HE and joint degrees
Paul Gifford (Erasmus Mundus), Professor of French, St. Andrew's University (Co-ordinator of Master Mundus: Crossways in European Humanities)


Current developments in the Bologna Process

Tish Bourke, The Europe Unit, Universities UK
Download: PowerPoint presentation (98Kb)

Tish Bourke will provide a brief overview of the Bologna Process, before concentrating on important developments emerging from the last ministerial summit, which took place in Bergen, Norway last year. In particular,Tish willfocus on key issues from the perspective of the UK HE sector, in terms of both the challenges and opportunities which arise.

Quality assurance and enhancement in European Higher Education

Carolyn Campbell, Quality Assurance Agency

Halfway through the timescale for the establishment of the European Higher Education Area some important steps have been achieved to articulate shared expectations about quality assurance and standards in higher education. The European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance (ESG) and the overarching framework of qualifications in the EHEA were approved by Ministers of the Bologna Process participating countries at their meeting in Bergen. Progress towards implementation of these at national level will be reported on at the next Ministerial meeting, to be held in London in 2007. But, what are the implications of this for higher education institutions in the UK? How do UK reference points for standards align with these European instruments? Does it mean an increased regulatory burden for UK HEIs and another layer of evaluation and standards or an opportunity to demonstrate a European dimension and to facilitate links and cooperation with other European universities? Is the Bologna Process and other European activities in quality assurance and qualifications drifting towards a focus on structures and procedures rather than outcomes, and losing sight of the underlying reasons why, according to recent statements by the OECD and Commissioner Figel, reform in European higher education was and still is necessary?

The Bologna Process: the mobility challenge

John Reilly, Director, UK Socrates-Erasmus Council and Bologna Promoter
Download: PowerPoint presentation (283Kb)

The presentation will focus on mobility as central to the Bologna Process. It will:

  • Provide an overview of the Bologna Mobility Action lines.
  • Consider the implications of mobility in each cycle - Bachelor, Master (including Erasmus Mundus - Joint Masters) and Doctoral.
  • Reflect on recognition issues, the European University Charter, the European Mobility Charter, the Lisbon Recognition Convention and the use of ECTS and the Diploma Supplement.
  • Comment on the New Lifelong Learning Programme - Academic and Work placement mobility.

The Bologna Process and implications for Modern Languages

Malcolm Cook, Bologna promoter, Professor of French, University of Exeter

A brief survey of the Bologna Process, the next stages and possible implications for teachers and students of modern languages.

Tuning and the History subject area

Joaquim Carvalho (History), Professor of History University of Coimbra, Portugal (Member of the EU Tuning Project 2001-2006)
Download: PowerPoint presentation (189Kb)

The Tuning project produced curricular reference points in several areas, resulting from discussion between partners of different countries in Europe and, more recently, in America Latina. This presentation gives an overview of Tuning results in the History subject area and the usage that has been done of those findings through out Europe.

The Bologna Process and English Studies

Graham Caie, Professor of English Language, University of Glasgow

My experience concerning the Bologna Process is limited to English Studies. As secretary of the 8000-strong European Society for the Study of English (ESSE) for many years, I have noted the implementation of and strong interest in the Process in most EU countries and despaired at the lack of urgency in UK universities even to discuss its implications here. There is still a general feeling that Bologna's aim is to make all universities step in line with the UK system. I would like to comment on the implications of the Process for English studies in the UK (including the Scottish four-year degree), look at examples in other EU countries and comment on the major benefits for UK universities in general and English studies in particular of the Process.

How wide is the Channel? Mundus, British HE and joint degrees

Paul Gifford (Erasmus Mundus), Professor of French, St. Andrew's University (Co-ordinator of Master Mundus: Crossways in European Humanities)

When the UK sets out to do anything 'within Europe', it is the singularity of our systemic procedures, perspectives and outlook, as much as the instrinsic problems involved in the innovative step to be taken that often explain why we find it difficult. Navigating between theory and practice, this paper explores some of the principal dimensions of difficulty, and some possible solutions. What is a Joint Degree? How, why and when establish integrated joint programmes? With which accreditation procedures and legal frameworks? Offering which forms of joint recognition? Surviving which ongoing hasards of joint management?

Event report: The academic implications of the Bologna Process

by Carole Sedgwick

See also: event report by Colin Brooks

Current developments in the Bologna Process

Tish Bourke, The Europe Unit, Universities UK

Tish spoke about important developments that had emerged from the last ministerial summit in Bergen, Norway, last year. The key aims of Bologna are to enhance employability and mobility and increase the international competitiveness of European HE. An important part of the commitment is to develop a framework of readable and comparable degrees. It was agreed that Bologna would provide the overarching framework for qualifications in the European Higher Education Area with a 3-year Bachelor's cycle, a 2-year Master's cycle and PhD. In Bergen qualification descriptors, known as Dublin descriptors, were developed with the QAA as a general reference point. The credit range for each cycle was established as 180-240 credits for the first cycle and 90-120 credits for the second cycle, which means that 60 credits are required at Master's level. Learning outcomes are considered as the important determinant for accreditation, although the continental model has traditionally been workloads-based.

The Berlin Communiqué stated that from 2005 every student should receive a diploma supplement free of charge. This is a record of student achievement drawn up by the university according to guidelines specified by Europe. The Burgess Group in the Europe Unit is working on the guidelines for the diploma supplement, which will include the final transcript of achievement from the student's university. There a number of differences in the requirements for achievement of a doctorate elsewhere in Europe, for example, a public viva is often required as opposed to the closed system in the UK. It is important that diversity is respected in the requirements. The issues that are currently being discussed with regard to the PhD are: duration, access, teacher training and credit allocation.

See Tish Bourke's slides (PowerPoint, 98Kb)

Quality Assurance and Enhancement in European HE

Carolyn Campbell, Quality Assurance Agency

Carolyn spoke about the work of the E4 (ENQA European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education, EUA European University Association, EURASHE The European Association of Institutions in Higher Education and ESIB The National Unions of Students in Europe ). There are two working groups looking at the peer review system and developing standards and guidelines for internal, external and peer review. These guidelines were accepted in Bergen . The ethos is to respect local and national autonomy. 'Procedures' have been dropped in favour of 'standards' in the guidelines. National implementation of the guidelines is scheduled for 2007. The objectives of the European standards and guidelines are:

  • fostering vibrant intellectual and educational achievement;
  • guidance and assistance in quality assurance;
  • informing and raising expectations;
  • contributing to a common framework of reference for the provision of higher education and quality assurance.

It aims to be generic rather than prescriptive. It can aid in the development of joint degrees but Carolyn emphasised that there is no aim to drive towards a pan-European Quality Assurance system. A list is being compiled of approved accreditation agencies in Europe .

The major challenges are: student assessment (including comparability, consistency and fairness. A consultative framework was agreed on at Bergen . In addition, a new lifelong learning programme has been planned for 2007-2013 which includes work placements involving the co-operation of university and business communities.

The Bologna Process: the Mobility Challenge

John Reilly, Director, UK Socrates-Erasmus Council and Bologna Promoter

John illustrated the emphasis on mobility in the European declarations with reference to the Sorbonne (1988), Bologna (1999), Prague (2001), Berlin (2003) and Bergen (2005) declarations. He spoke about the challenges to mobility with regard to the UK in terms of overcoming the negative attitudes to mobility of students and colleagues and raised the question of whether Modern Languages students could complete a Master's degree in four years. He stressed that it is important to be flexible in the accreditation of achievement for students following an Erasmus exchange programme and in considering a joint or double degree programme. He emphasised the importance of Bologna in mobility terms, yet there are currently low numbers of students going out to study abroad from the UK compared to those coming into the UK on Erasmus programmes. In 2005/6 there were 7,214 outgoing students from the UK compared with over 20,000 from France, Germany and Spain, 16,440 from Italy and 8,390 from Poland . The argument that too many students want to enter the UK is also not upheld by the figures. In the same year 16,264 came into the UK compared to 17,272 going into Germany, 20,519 going into France and 25,511 going into Spain . Figures from 2000-2005 show that the numbers of students from Britain taking up Erasmus exchanges has fallen compared to a rise in France, Italy, Poland and Spain .

Thus, he concluded that we need to encourage take-up of the opportunities afforded by the exchange programmes for the sake of the students. They will benefit and it will enhance their employment opportunities. We also need to encourage staff to get involved in exchanges because that will develop links that can make it easier for students to study abroad.

The Bologna Process and the implications for Modern Languages

Malcolm Cook, Bologna promoter, Professor of French, University of Exeter

Malcolm began his talk with some general comments about Bologna . He highlighted the apparent lack of commitment to Bologna in the UK . He related this initially to the lack of an implementation policy by government (as in other EU countries), for example, in relation to the implementation of the Diploma Supplement. However for the UK this has to be achieved through encouragement and persuasion rather than prescription. Currently, other parts of Europe are moving ahead more rapidly with the Bologna process and even other parts of the world are taking an interest, e.g. Morocco is bringing its HE system in line with Bologna .

The goal is that by 2010 there should be harmonisation of structures with an emphasis on learning outcomes. This should help to make the case for retaining the one calendar year Master's in the UK, while on the Continent two academic years is the norm. Malcolm believes that most universities in Europe will harmonise practices. He sees that mobility should become the norm, but that the high fees imposed in the UK will be an issue (elsewhere in Europe fees are very low) for both UK and other EU students. A reason why UK mobility is low compared to other EU countries called also be explained by the fact that UK students continue to opt to study in universities away from home, so have both the financial strain and person growth that such independent living brings. Students in other EU countries often study nearer to home therefore they don't have to borrow money to support themselves, it is, therefore, more attractive for them to take a year abroad, where they can have some adventure and independence. However, the suggestion that the higher fees, under the new system, from EU students could be recovered through their home tax system is likely to be both unworkable and a disincentive for EU students to study in the UK . There is a danger, of course, that students will choose to study elsewhere and courses taught through the medium of English have increased in other EU countries and elsewhere.

The main challenges for Modern Languages, were identified as developing joint degrees and dual accreditation of doctoral programmes. The Cotutelles are a system encouraged in France to develop joint doctorates and money for start-up activities is available from the French embassy. Falling student numbers remains a problem, but there is no easy answer to this as policies for languages in secondary schools are largely outside our control. One solution would be to attract good students from European universities. In addition the four-year norm for Modern Languages in the UK means that undergraduates take more credits than required. This could, he suggest, be developed into a four-year Master's.

Finally Malcolm suggested that an important way to deal with the challenges is to join forces. He gave the example of the South West Bologna Forum (Southampton, Briston, Exeter and Bournemouth universities), which meets once a term to discuss issues concerning the implementation of Bologna .

Tuning and the History subject area

Joaquim Carvalho, Professor of History University of Coimbra, Portugal (Member of the EU Tuning Project (2001-2006)

Bologna is a political initiative and the Tuning exercise is one of the mechanisms that the universities have to ensure a voice in the process. The Tuning project was set up in 2000 by a group of European universities to establish reference points for common curricula on the basis of agreed competences and learning outcomes as well as cycle level descriptors for many subject areas and is now in its third phase. Joaquim was involved in the tuning exercise for History (2000-2004). Tuning project partners developed a questionnaire that was sent to graduates, employers and academics in which they were asked to select competences that they believed were of value in terms of instrumental competences (cognitive abilities, methodological abilities, technological abilities and linguistic abilities); interpersonal competences (social interaction and co-operation); systemic competences (abilities and skills concerning whole systems). The questionnaire required respondents to rank the list of competences in terms of their relevance and the extent to which the universities were helping students to achieve them. Respondents were from seven subject areas (Business, Geology, History, Mathematics, Physics, Education and Chemistry) in 101 university departments in 16 countries. A total of 5,138 graduates, 944 employers and 998 academics participated. The data yielded many interesting insights, for example, employers felt that universities focused too much on research instead of encouraging students to come up with new ideas, while academics believed that new ideas were developed through research.

The results of the questionnaire were analysed. There was further consultation on subject-specific competences, asking academics to rank and associate them with a level. The team tried to find common reference points for curricula by comparing programmes. The results for History were similar to those in other areas. They provided reference points for curricula and a guide for programme design at Bachelor's and Master's level and insights into employment taken up by History graduates. They enabled participants to critically reflect on the teaching learning and assessment processes and quality assurance issues. General observations were that teaching and learning methods must be varied in order to foster diverse important 'general' and specific competences. The overarching subject-specific objectives are important for general competences, for European citizenship and for employability, not only of historians.

Positive outcomes of the project are that it highlights the diversity in Europe, e.g the number of hours taught, but there is much in common. Some of the Tuning concepts that have been developed are innovations in some contexts: competence-based programme design, student workload as a basis for the credit system, the mapping of courses to programme level competences and formal quality control. All of these vary from country to country. Negative outcomes are the adhoc nature of the group and the extent to which participants could be said to have represented practices in their country. Dissemination was also an issue. The final texts (History has produced a booklet of the developed competences) were intended to be reflective and thought-provoking rather than blueprints for implementation.

Tuning is now linked to the Thematic Networks. TEEP 2002 was a pilot project on transnational evaluation of programmes based on Tuning 1 reference points. It was led by ENQA (the European Network for Quality Assurance in HE). The QAA were involved in the evaluation of five History programmes at the European level. CLIOHnet thematic network were involved as consultants. It is an example of outcome-oriented evaluation. A number of national projects have resulted from the Tuning Project in Spain, Portugal, the UK and Latin America .

Tuning answers the need of HEIs to have reference points in the Bologna context. Its approach is similar to the benchmark statements in the UK : reference points; teaching, learning and assessment; levels of achievement, but in a European context. It has obvious implications for quality assurance. It can work in the Humanities but its results will always require national and institutional level elaboration. For more information contact Joaquim Carvalho, For information on tuning:

Tuning Educational Structures in Europe

Human plus: the European Archipelago of Humanistic Thematic Networks

CLIOHnet: Creating Links and Innovative Overviews to Enhance Historical Perspective in European Culture

The Thematic Network Project in the Area of Languages III (TNP3)

ENQA European Network for Quality Assurance

The Bologna Process and English Studies

Graham Caie, Professor of English Language, University of Glasgow

Graham is secretary of ESSE (European Society for the Study of English) and has conducted research in a number of countries. He reported on the challenges for the implementation of Bologna at grassroots level. There had been changes over the years in the UK, but at grassroots level very little in response to Bologna . The UK has not had to change their programmes as much as they have had to in many European countries. The perception is that 'they' have to come in line with 'us'. Britain has not taken the philosophy of the European dimension in what we do and teach. The implications for Scotland of the overarching 3 + 2 framework are that the current four-year degrees would lead to an MA with MPhil as the next stage. However, the system in many parts of the EU is being imposed from the top down and there is a lot of dissatisfaction at grassroots level as the change to 3 + 2 is a major change for many countries. Many academics feel that students do not have adequate time under the new system to allow them to develop the knowledge and skills they need. There is also a problem in that employers do not know what the term Bachelor's degree refers to and there is a worry that the PhD will not be regarded as highly as previously. It is not only necessary to educate academics but also parents and employers as the focus is no longer on years of study but on credits, which is intended to promote lifelong learning.

Academics in the UK are still somewhat sceptical about Bologna . There is a belief that 'we are ahead' in terms of quality assurance and the 'others' on the Continent are copying us. There is concern over the cost, the language skills needed, giving up jobs, accommodation in terms of obtaining short-term leases, credit transfer. It is perceived as high risk and there is fear of further closure of departments if students, of Modern Languages for example, move to other countries for their degrees.

How wide is the Channel? Mundus, British HE and joint degrees

Paul Gifford, Professor of French, St Andrews University. Co-ordinator of Master Mundus: Crossways in European Humanities.

Paul reported on the trials and tribulations of developing a joint degree programme, which is he believes well worth it. Paul described Mundus as Europe Mark 2. It takes issues about mobility and credit transfer and projects them onto the global stage (Mundus degrees are open to non-EU students as well as EU students). Paul describes the scheme as the apex of Bologna . The aim is to harmonise European HE and offer it to the world. The degrees carry some generous scholarships (25) which are distributed under the Mundus scheme with 24,000 Euros for each scholar for each year of the programme. To qualify for the funding the degrees must be delivered by three partner institutions, one of whom can be from outside Europe . Each joint degree programme starts with a successful bid (by the partners) and ends when the five-year contract runs out. All partners must participate on the same footing and at two languages of study are required. Paul's experience has highlighted the many difficulties inherent in such collaborations, not least the fact that UK institutions require high fees was are required by the other EU universities and which have created some intense discord. However, these difficulties have been far outweighed by the benefits: the degree is currently progressing and some excellent students have enrolled who are very positive about the course. And for the students themselves there are enormous potential gains for students, both in terms of the interdisciplinarity of the course, the new experiences offered and the enhanced status and employment opportunities graduates will have as a result of obtaining the qualification.

Event report: The academic implications of the Bologna Process

by Colin Brooks, Subject Centre for History, Classics and Archaeology

This was a well attended meeting which heard a variety of clearly expressed and forcefully argued presentations on various aspects of the Bologna Process. This report attempts to pick out the key themes and their implications for the Higher Education Academy and its Subject Centres; for individual faculty, departments and institutions; for students and for student programmes. Material from the presentations is available on this webpage.

The Bologna Process was designed with two aims particularly in mind: first, to encourage and, indeed, to require the portability of European HE qualifications, and, second, to build up the international attraction and competitiveness of European HE (within what is now known as the EHEA the European Higher Education Area). It was a response to globalisation and to internationalisation. It was not designed, that is, with the convenience of academics in mind. Competitiveness, Tish Bourke reminded us, was the watchword. Nor is it static: new 'action lines' are developed; progress reports and 'stocktaking' are required of member states.

The HE system of the UK ought to be well placed to take advantage of the 'Bologna' developments: first, we have two (relatively) clear levels UG and PGT and second, we have considerable experience of audit processes. The introduction of these arrangements into the practice and the ethos of HE institutions in Europe might be thought likely to produce much heart-searching and controversy. But that was not yet apparent. And it seemed likely that the very character of the system in the UK encouraged most of those concerned to assume that there was little in 'Bologna' of which they should take notice. Graham Caie confessed that it would have been more productive for UK HE had it more obviously had decisions to take. We were firmly reminded by Bill Brooks in his introductory review and by subsequent speakers that there were, in fact, a number of considerable challenges: three in particular were cited the adoption of the ECTS credit system (with the still open question as to whether credits should acknowledge learning outcomes or student workload); the introduction of the Diploma Supplement (which, it was cruelly but correctly pointed out, was neither a Diploma nor a Supplement); and the development of student and staff mobility. It is worth noting that the first two are essentially questions for institutional administration (while recognizing that it may well be departmental administrators who are on the sharp end).

In the course of the discussions, it became apparent, too, that a number of institutions and individuals elsewhere in Europe are yet to be convinced of the value of the taught postgraduate Master's as currently offered in the UK, as a full year, programme. It was suggested that, while that degree may have portability in terms of employment, it might not unlock entry into a continental doctoral programme.

A (potential) challenge may emerge: the introduction of a credit system for 'third cycle' degrees (i.e. doctorates). Other 'lines' of development include Lifelong Learning (only recently emphasized) and 'the European dimension in HE' (something of differential relevance across the disciplines: History, say, or Philosophy, include, almost necessarily, a European dimension).

Even in terms of Quality Assurance, where it might be thought that the UK had run the whole gamut of possibilities, Europe might require more in the way of student and international participation. We were assured by Carolyn Campbell that the European attention would be focussed on standards and guidelines not on procedures, which had been definitively dropped from the menu: the concentration of those responsible for a European overview would be on what should be done, not on how it should be done. QA processes in the UK clearly met the likely standards and guidelines.

Joaquim Carvalho of the University of Coimbra reported on the work of the TUNING group in History which had been reviewing the discipline across Europe with a view to establishing common themes, perhaps, though not using those words, common learning outcomes. The group's report provided an interesting counterpoint to the UK Benchmark statements and some work had been undertaken to compare and contrast the two. Some striking points had emerged in the course of a considerable opinion survey among faculty, students and employers. The hierarchy of skills sought from HE by students and employers was very similar; the hierarchy espoused by faculty was rather different Employers argued that they detected in the graduates they employed too much of a commitment to 'research' and too little of an openness to 'new idea'. There is clearly, across the continent, work for us to do! Carvalho made an intriguing contribution to the discussion of linguistic differences, recalling from his work for the European Commission with history faculties across Latin America that there were greater problems when a common language was being used than when a foreign lingua franca (i.e. English) as employed in European discussions. Each national party strove to establish their own particular take on a term; in European discussions in English, some subtlety may be lost but common acceptance was easier to achieve.

John Reilly of the UK Socrates/Erasmus Agency argued that mobility lay at the heart of the European commitment to HE. Without mobility, the Bologna process would be an empty shell (though we acknowledged that portability of qualifications would encourage or least legitimate mobility after graduation, in employment). Mobility required certain attributes on the part of students and of faculty, departments and institutions. John Reilly felt that flexibility and the imagination and determination which ought to accompany it was sadly lacking in UK HE at present. This, it was acknowledged, was part of a more general reluctance to develop 'flexible learning paths'. A declining number of students spend a period of study in Europe during their HE programme: and, indeed, fifteen percent of those who do are not UK nationals! More students from Poland than from the UK now commit themselves to mobility (despite the fact that the cost of living is higher in most of the countries to which Polish students move). He argued that the questions of language capability and of financial hardship, often adduced as discouraging mobility, were hiding a more fundamental cultural and attitudinal reluctance. In terms of exposure to, and understanding of, the changing world, Reilly also highlighted the derisory number of UK students taking the opportunity to spend a period of study in Turkey .

All Reilly's arguments as to the benefits of mobility might be held applicable to international study per se and not just to study in Europe . It would be interesting to look at mobility to all countries (including the USA ). But it may well be that UK student mobility overall is declining. And this must be set against a European target of increasing mobility levels by 400% by 2011!

Reilly pointed to a number of opportunities, highlighting the various forms of European doctorate and looking especially at joint or double degrees: these were further explored in a talk by Paul Gifford about his/St Andrew's experience of the Erasmus Mundus programme, a talk notable for its gritty realism about the day-to-day difficulties in creating and administering such a programme. The programme involved a number of participants from across several countries; European students were joined by others from outside Europe who received scholarships from the EC. It was the apex of the Bologna process and the highest political stakes were involved. But there would be no possibility for several years of judging whether so international, cross-cultural, a programme had achieved its aim of developing students with the most considerable claim on the labour market. The Erasmus Mundus Master's programme is two levels/years in length; though provision is made for direct entry into the second year for students coming from four level/year UG programmes. This led to a discussion of the relationship between multiple degrees (students graduating with awards from both a UK and a continental institution) and joint degrees (students graduating with a single degree jointly awarded by two institutions). The latter (and the term 'joint' may not be completely helpful) was proving more difficult to achieve though it seemed to be the logical direction of developments.

It is striking that, in the supposed interests of competitiveness, Europe is moving to a three level (I use that term instead of year) first degree. In our heart of hearts, we have serious doubts as to whether, in a mass higher education system, full or proper justice can be done within three levels/years. The most successful mass system in the world, that of the USA, is based on four levels/years. Already in the UK a number of disciplines have introduced four level/year UG Masters programmes. A crucial, though not the only, issue here is that of language competence: does not the three level/year requirement make the mobility, whose expansion is so much heralded, problematic? That was a question which excited differing views among the participants, with some colleagues arguing that the obstacle was the indifference of programme leaders and institutional administrators to student need and opportunity. Three level/year programmes could include an element of mobility. Malcolm Cook of Exeter asked why we had not developed integrated UG Masters degrees as had a number of Science and Engineering disciplines: the rejoinder came from the University of Manchester, where precisely such a programme, in two languages, is well established (see School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures, University of Manchester).

For this reporter, the day provided a salutary warning against complacency, both about structures in UK HE and about the anxiety of institutions, departments and individuals to 'hang on' to students, in the face of much evidence and argument, that individuals and the nation would be well served by a more open approach to student programmes. The prototype 'wandering scholar' of the Middle Ages still has much to commend it: and on the basis, not only of employability and competitiveness, but also of human understanding.