German higher education institutions and Europe
On 25 May 1998, on the occasion of the 800th anniversary of the University of Paris, the education ministers of Germany, France, the UK and Italy adopted the Sorbonne Declaration in Paris, with the aim of establishing a common European higher education policy on, among other things, the international recognition of academic achievements and degrees against the background of lifelong learning.
One year later, on 19 June 1999, 29 European states signed the Bologna Declaration as a voluntary commitment to improve the comparability of higher education systems in Europe. The Bologna Declaration was the common starting point for the European higher education reform process, the so-called Bologna Process.
To promote the mobility and labour market-related qualification of European citizens, and to strengthen the international competitiveness of the European higher education system and the development of the European continent, the following measures were to be implemented: the introduction of a system of easily understandable and comparable degrees (including a Diploma Supplement), the introduction of a two-tier system of degrees, the introduction of a credit point system, the promotion of student and teacher mobility, European cooperation in quality assurance and the strengthening of a European dimension in higher education.
Other agreed objectives included closer cooperation in higher education policy at government level and with European non-governmental organisations. It was agreed that follow-up meetings would be held within two years to assess the progress made and the measures to be taken.
The aim of the declaration was to reduce existing obstacles in the comparability and permeability of national higher education systems and to establish greater structural compatibility between them so as to further exploit the enormous competitive potential of European higher education institutions. To achieve this, the parties aimed to remove barriers to mobility facing students and academic staff within the Bologna member states with the aim of promoting cooperation between higher education institutions in Europe.
In addition, the Declaration was intended to promote the international recognition and comparability of degrees in order to be visible, competitive and attractive to international students beyond the European Higher Education Area.
The German federal government and the federal states signed the Bologna Declaration on behalf of Germany, thereby agreeing to the further development of the German higher education system in a European context.