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Education and mobility contributes to prosperity

Higher Education Minister Morten Østergaard's speech at Bologna meeting in Bucharest 26 April 2012.

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Mr. President, fellow Ministers, distinguished delegates, rectors and students.

I would like to begin by thanking our hosts for this wonderful event. I am very impressed by the enthusiasm and commitment, shown today by the organisers and all of the delegates.

I believe it is important that ministers with responsibility for higher education meet regularly to take stock of achieved results and chart priorities for future work in the Bologna cooperation.

These are difficult times for Europe. Debt is high. Growth is low. And jobs all over Europe are lost. Not least among young people.

We need education more than ever. Investing in education should be a priority for all countries. Education not only benefits the individual but also contributes to growth and welfare in society.

In my opinion we cannot be too educated.

The Bologna Process is very important in this regard. It has resulted in better quality education and greater opportunities for mobility for all. We must ensure that more young people embrace mobility, both during and after completing their higher education. And we must prepare the education system today to meet the challenges of tomorrow – challenges that all of Europe is facing.

Knowledge and mobility

Let me make one thing very clear. I have never, ever met a student who regretted studying abroad. However, I have met many who have regretted not taking the opportunity to go abroad during their studies.

Everyone should be able to avail themselves of this opportunity. We as decision-makers can help make it easier by removing bureaucratic barriers. And by assisting institutions to create more joint programmes and issue more joint degrees.

Mobility, studying abroad and the acquisition of cross-border knowledge has been the core of the Bologna cooperation.

I have a vision that all students in Denmark should have the possibility to go abroad. And in principle it should not be more difficult to go abroad than to stay at home.

It is therefore a big step that during this ministerial conference, we will not only adopt a Ministerial Communiqué but also an EHEA mobility strategy. I am a strong supporter of this.

We must reap the benefits of mobility – it helps strengthen our societies. And it also provides students with cross-cultural understanding and desirable skills. We must use the opportunities presented by internationalisation.

The Bologna Process

Denmark has been part of the Bologna Process since the beginning in 1999. We are proud of this and we have always attributed great importance to cooperation.

The possibilities presented by the Bologna cooperation are endless and in little over a decade, we have achieved a number of significant results. That is, agreeing on common degree structures, a credit system, and uniform standards for quality assurance of education programmes.

But it is too early to rest on our laurels. We must reflect on what we have accomplished together. While also looking at what we have yet to achieve.

My vision for the future European Higher Education Area is an inclusive project where coherence and flexibility are paramount in higher education.

It requires that the implementation of the adopted Bologna targets is carried out by all 47 countries. And we must help each other to do so – for instance through the proposed initiative on peer learning. It also requires that the tools of the Bologna Process become a living reality – they must make a real difference to students and staff in their everyday life.

Our commitments here today and tomorrow must be transformed into concrete actions when we each return home.

Negotiations on the Bucharest Communiqué

I look forward to the negotiations and adoption of the Bucharest Communiqué. And I look forward to dialogue and exchange of views with countries outside of the European Higher Education Area during the Bologna Policy Forum.

I would like to wish you all a very successful ministerial conference. Thank you.

last modified Jan 13, 2022