Bologna education system: essence, goals and basic requirements

Table of contents
MOSCOW, September 30 – Novosti. In 2003, Russia switched to the Bologna system of education: what is it, what is its essence and a brief history of its emergence, how did the educational program of universities in our country change as a result, will the teaching methodology according to the Bologna system be preserved in 2022, and what changes await Russian higher education education after leaving the system, – in the material of Novosti.

Bologna system

The Bologna system is a common educational standard that unites higher education institutions of different countries, which are designed to create a single European higher education space. The name is associated with a university in the Italian city of Bologna , where in 1999 representatives of several European countries signed an agreement on the introduction of uniform educational standards. Since then, the number of participants has multiplied, and in 2003 Russia joined them .


The history of the creation of the system began in 1986, when representatives of the University of Bologna, on the eve of its 900th anniversary, proposed signing a Charter that would provide an opportunity for the exchange of scientific, teaching staff and high-class specialists between countries, but for this it was necessary to bring it to a single form the education system itself and the documents confirming its receipt. The roots of the idea come from the Middle Ages: when teaching in all higher educational institutions was conducted in the same language (Latin), therefore, there were no problems with communication between teachers and students from different countries. In addition, at that time in Europe there was a general idea of ​​​​education, and students studied in three stages:
  • trivium (the study of grammar, logic and rhetoric);
  • quadrium (arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy);
  • in-depth study of one of the three sciences (philosophy, theology or jurisprudence).
Trainers could master any of the stages for an unlimited time, and then move on to another, but most of them stopped at the first, since with it it was already possible to get a good position.
Since there were few good universities, and even fewer knowledgeable professors, students traveled around Europe, choosing the best for themselves and not having any language barrier in learning. Over time, everything became different: educational programs changed, each state had its own requirements and standards.
Rector of Moscow State University named after M. V. Lomonosov Viktor Sadovnichy - Novosti, 1920, 08/09/2022
Bachelor’s degree will remain in the system of higher education, said Sadovnichiy

Prerequisites for creation

The creation of the Bologna system of education is a reaction to the socio-economic situation in the world that developed at the turn of the 20th-21st centuries. The reasons were:
  • increase in student body and internationalization of education;
  • increased competition in the market of educational services;
  • growing globalization (the emergence of an international system of licensing, certification and accreditation);

Participating countries

Government meetings within the framework of the Bologna process were held in Prague (2001), Berlin (2003), Bergen (2005), London (2007), Leuven (2009), Budapest and Vienna (2010), Bucharest (2012), Yerevan (2015) , Paris (2018) and Rome (2020).
© Depositphotos / unguryanu
University graduates - Novosti, 1920, 09/30/2022
University graduates
At the moment, 46 countries participate in the Bologna education system, Russia and Belarus were excluded from the system on April 11 by the decision of the Bologna Group.


In the doctrine of educational law, the main goal of creating the Bologna system of education is the creation of a “single Europe of knowledge” and increasing the international competitiveness of the European system of higher education. In addition, the system has the following goals:
  • accessibility of higher education for all segments of the population;
  • increasing the mobility of students and teachers by strengthening ties between universities;
  • increasing the employability of young professionals in the context of globalization;
  • development of scientific, cultural and intellectual potential;
  • strengthening the role of educational organizations in the formation of common European values.
Minister of Education of the Russian Federation Sergey Kravtsov - Novosti, 1920, 06/07/2022
The Minister of Education commented on the abolition of the Bologna process

Primary requirements

According to Oksana Vasilyeva, Associate Professor of the Department of Legal Regulation of Economic Activities of the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, special importance is attached to the introduction of such mechanisms for achieving the stated goals, such as:
  • adoption of a system of easily understood and comparable academic qualifications;
  • implementation of the Common European Diploma Supplement for Higher Education to ensure the employment of European citizens and increase the international competitiveness of the European higher education system;
  • transition to a two-level training system – bachelor (undergraduate), master (graduate);
  • the introduction of a system of credits like ECTS (European credit system), considered as a means of supporting large-scale student mobility;
  • support for the high quality of higher education (introduction of a rating system for teachers and students);

Key points

In addition to the basic requirements for the implementation of the Bologna system of education, there are also basic provisions:
  • students have the right to independently choose disciplines for study;
  • students and teachers can move freely around different European universities;
  • training criteria and methodology should be similar in all participating countries;
  • joint development of training programs at different universities;
  • use of adaptive and integrated learning.
Head of SC RF Alexander Bastrykin
Bastrykin criticized the Bologna system

Advantages and disadvantages

The advantages of the system, according to Narek Mkhitaryan, head of the analytics and research department of the investment department of the Synergy Corporation , include:
  1. 1
    Availability of higher education as a sign of globalization world processes with wide employment opportunities.
  2. 2
    A stable three-level educational system recognized at the world level by most universities (bachelor’s, master’s, postgraduate studies).
  3. 3
    Highly specialized and specialized competencies within the main stages (bachelor’s, master’s).
  4. 4
    A wide opportunity for students when moving to universities in other countries without losing points.
  5. 5
    Increasing the level of competitiveness of universities.
  6. 6
    The opportunity for students to draw up their own curricula, based on their own strengths, capabilities and interests.
  7. 7
    Opportunities and prospects for a scientific career in world universities.
  8. 8
    A unified system of criteria and standards for higher education and its opportunities in the labor market and science.
Head of the Development Program of the Tyumen State University Taisya Pogodaeva - Novosti, 1920, 06/30/2022
Master’s degree remains. What do students of new directions win?
The disadvantages are that:
  1. 1
    The Bologna system practically does not take into account national interests within the framework of the educational system.
  2. 2
    The existing educational testing system is not accurate in assessing the knowledge, skills and abilities of students.
  3. 3
    The absence of a fundamental systematic approach and methodology in teaching students and, as a result, the narrowness of knowledge and competencies.
“If we talk about Russia, then most often a bachelor in Russian educational reality is perceived as an under-specialist with an incomplete baggage of fundamental knowledge (the grading system itself was introduced in Russia relatively recently, and therefore a similar attitude and perception), the second stage (magistracy ) in European reality is perceived almost like a scientist, while in our country this is not the case, the main priority is given to graduate students and postgraduate students,” the expert adds.

Bologna system in Russia

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The admission committee at the university - Novosti, 1920, 09/30/2022
Admissions office at the university
Russia joined the Bologna system in 2003, however, the official transition of higher education to two-level education was completed only in 2011.

Reasons for participation

It was believed that at that time the old Soviet education no longer corresponded to the spirit of the times and modern realities, so in Russia there was a need to find a popular and modern system for obtaining knowledge. The reasons for participation were also:
  • the need to increase the level of combination of knowledge and skills demanded in the world;
  • a response to the desire of society to get closer to other countries, to open borders;
  • to strengthen the participation of our country in global processes;
  • improve the quality of education in Russian universities.

Transition Requirements

Thanks to the entry into the Bologna system, Russian students got more opportunities to participate in exchange programs, however, the Bologna process assumed not only an increase in the mobility of students and teachers, but also a transition to a three-stage system (bachelor’s degree-master’s degree-doctoral studies) and the introduction of a credit system.
© Depositphotos / Rawpixel
Students during a break between lectures - Novosti, 1920, 09/30/2022
Students during a break between lectures
“At first glance, the transition to a three-stage system took place, albeit partially (in some specialties, a specialist remained), but in reality, the programs that needed to be reorganized to European standards were actually reduced to 4 years. As a result, a diploma in the labor market bachelor’s degree is still perceived as unfinished higher.In certain areas, students are not required to obtain a master’s degree and are taught everything “on the spot”, but there are also employers who agree to hire a bachelor on the condition that he enters a master’s program and receives this degree As for the credit system, the 100-point system has become its analogue – nothing more than a cosmetic change, since the credit system in Europe works differently,” notes Daria Sukhorukova,senior lecturer at the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation.

Criticism of participation

According to Gulnara Ruchkina, Dean of the Faculty of Law of the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, today the Bologna system of education should be treated as a past stage.
“Already in the practice of teaching according to the Bologna system in the Russian Federation since 2003, after a certain time, such shortcomings have been revealed as the risk of losing valuable educational experience in the history of national higher education; the practical incapacity of some process innovations; limiting students’ access to master’s programs; higher education due to the focus on narrow specialists, to the detriment of fundamental training that develops analytical and critical thinking,” the expert believes.
Students in the robotics laboratory - Novosti, 1920, 06/27/2022
Falkov called the four-year term of study of bachelors insufficient
“It was not possible to use all the advantages of this cooperation due to the differentiation of our universities. International cooperation, academic exchange programs were actively developed at universities located primarily in Moscow , St. Petersburg , Tomsk , Ufa , Kazan , Novosibirsk and other large cities, at the same time, not all regional universities were able to integrate into the system of international cooperation and use its advantages. In addition, the quality of bachelor’s programs, and especially master’s programs, was often not high, especially in the regions, “adds Olga Vorontsova, director and founder of the PEI PO “Saint-Petersburg Technological College”.

Russia’s withdrawal from the Bologna system

In May, Russian Minister of Science and Education Valery Falkov announced plans for Russia to withdraw from the Bologna education system.
“Rejection of the Bologna system will make it possible to bring education closer to the needs of the domestic educational market. It should be noted that in modern conditions Russia is not going to close itself off from world science and education. In the near future, a domestic system of higher education will be introduced in our country. The main thing that needs to be focused on today in Russian higher education is its fundamental nature and the quality of training qualified specialists who are in demand on the labor market,” says Gulnara Ruchkina.
Minister of Science and Higher Education Valery Falkov
Falkov called the principles of building a new system of Russian education
Prior to Russia’s accession to the Bologna process, students studied under specialist programs that provide comprehensive training of qualified personnel. One of the important changes associated with the departure from the Bologna system is the revival of the role of the specialist in higher education. Russia will not be able to immediately take and rebuild educational processes to meet new standards. One way or another, there will be a system that in its roots has the criteria of both the Bologna and National Russian, as well as world educational systems. Therefore, Narek Mkhitaryan highlights the following criteria for a new educational system:
  • focus on the main sectors of the national economy of Russia;
  • renovation of the previously existing Soviet education system to a new reality and reality within and around Russia;
  • hybridization of the two-stage education system by merging (integrating) bachelor’s and master’s programs and forming a new through educational level (intermediate between specialty – bachelor’s – master’s degree);
  • formation of new educational standards to preserve future labor resources, as well as maintain a high level and potential of human capital;
Among the advantages of the new educational system, according to the expert, are:
  • The focus on fundamental education (specialty) in Russia and, as a result, the reduction of undergraduate and, consequently, master’s programs.
  • Formation of new formats of professional selection and criteria for assessing the progress of students of higher education and, as a result, a possible rejection of the testing system, or rather, the reformation of the very methodology and approach to assessing students’ knowledge.
  • Processing of the Federal State Educational Standard, specific programs and curricula for different areas of training.
Entrance to the building of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation - Novosti, 1920, 06/15/2022
When abandoning the Bologna system, the Ministry of Education referred to the experience of China and India
“It will not be possible to completely abandon the system – millions of Russians have received bachelor’s and master’s degrees, the admission figures for these programs have been approved for the coming years. All changes will be introduced into Russian standards gradually, the process will stretch over several years. A good solution for Russian education will be the model “2+2+2″ – the division of the first stage of higher education into two stages. This model assumes the gradual immersion of the student in the chosen field with the opportunity to determine the progress of learning as the program progresses. This reform will lead to a decrease in the share of dropouts after several undergraduate courses. The changes will give students more freedom: students will be able to independently weigh all the pros and cons of the direction of training, look for their vocation, try themselves in the intended area of ​​development”, – says Denis Titov, head of the academic department of the online school “Coalition”.
According to the expert, the educational trajectory will look like this:
  • The first two courses the student takes general disciplines associated with related specialties.
  • From the third year, an in-depth specialization begins, which is determined by the student himself.
  • 5-6th year – a thorough study of a narrow field, that is, a master’s degree.
The head of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation, Valery Falkov, said that in any case, a complete rejection of bachelor’s and master’s programs is now impossible: “There is no need to artificially suppress the possibility of developing a specialty and create advantages for bachelor’s and master’s programs. We must enable the industry itself, together with universities, to determine which form is most in demand” , the official said .
The President of the Russian Union of Rectors , the rector of the Moscow State University named after Lomonosov , Viktor Sadovnichy , also agrees with Falkov , who spoke in favor of leaving the bachelor’s degree in separate areas for foreign students.
Students at the university - Novosti, 1920, 06/13/2022
The State Duma said that the education system needs to be modernized
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