What is the Bologna system of education and how it will be replaced in Russia


In Russia, they plan to return the system of specialty, thus replacing the Bologna system with it. The corresponding proposal was made by Russian President Vladimir Putin during his address to the Federal Assembly on February 21. About what the Bologna system is, and what are the pros and cons of the international educational format, read in the Izvestia material.

History and concept

The Bologna process originates from a declaration signed on 19 June 1999 by ministers from 29 countries. The name of the educational system adopted at that time was chosen in honor of the University of Bologna, where the corresponding document was signed. Currently, 49 countries, including Russia, are participating in the program.

The Bologna process implies the observance of two key conditions. Thus, the countries participating in this system adhere to the division of higher education into three stages: bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral studies. Secondly, the system assumes mutual recognition of education abroad. Thus, a graduate who has received a bachelor’s degree in one country can continue his education at a master’s degree in another member state of the Bologna Process.

To get a bachelor’s degree, you need to devote 4 years to study at a university. After that, you can continue your studies by spending 2 years to obtain a master’s degree. For the most inquisitive, there is also an opportunity to get a doctoral degree, devoting another 3 years to this.

The authors of the initiative pursued the goal of creating a common space for higher education in Europe in order to blur the line between the formats of education in higher education institutions in different countries. Thus, on the basis of the Bologna process, a global European education system was to emerge.

How the Bologna system took root in Russia

Russia joined the Bologna Process in September 2003. At that time, the system of Soviet higher education operated in the country. As a result, the Bologna system was introduced into higher educational institutions, while the idea of ​​​​introducing 12 classes in schools was abandoned, retaining the eleven-year-old.

The past system of education in Russia included the so-called specialty, requiring training for 5-6 years. After joining the Bologna process, this format was abolished, but in some universities the opportunity to study as a specialist was preserved. However, such a degree is not recognized by other countries participating in the Bologna system – there such education is considered a bachelor’s degree.

Russia’s integration into the international educational system took place along with the introduction of the Unified State Examination (USE) for school graduates. Such a system, while meeting international standards, is not a requirement for joining the Bologna process. The key requirement is to ensure equal rights when entering universities, and countries themselves can choose the desired form of the exam.

Despite Russia’s plans to withdraw from the Bologna system, there is no talk of the country abandoning the USE. The exam has only an indirect relation to the Bologna process.

Refusal of the Russian Federation from the Bologna system

On May 24, 2022, the Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation Valery Falkov announced that Russia would abandon the Bologna system by developing its own educational structure. According to the head of the department, the Russian education system will become unique. It will be based on the interests of the country’s economy and maximum opportunities for students.

Later, Falkov clarified that the rejection of the Bologna system in Russia would not mean the rejection of undergraduate and graduate programs. He noted that many Russians received a bachelor’s degree and without a master’s degree will not be able to move on because of the qualification requirements for positions.

According to the speaker of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko, Russia’s integration into the Bologna system did not take place – contrary to the promises of the West, Russian diplomas and scientific degrees continue to be discriminated against, in addition, the best achievements of Russian education have been lost.

On May 25, it became known that the relevant State Duma Committee on Science and Higher Education, together with the government, began work on practical steps to withdraw Russia from the Bologna system. On June 2, Oleg Smolin, First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Science and Higher Education, said that a draft law on the voluntary participation of universities in the Bologna process had been developed and would soon be submitted to the State Duma.

On June 6, Deputy Head of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation Dmitry Afanasiev announced that all Russian universities were excluded from the Bologna Process by decision of the Bologna Group. According to him, the organization made the corresponding decision on April 11 – then the representation of Russia and Belarus in all structures of the Bologna process was suspended.

At the end of December, it was reported that the Russian Ministry of Education and Science continues systematic, balanced work to build a national system of higher education.

After the president’s proposal to return to the specialty, the Minister of Education of the Russian Federation Sergei Kravtsov, in an interview with Izvestia, expressed confidence that this decision would make the education system of the Russian Federation and the whole country stronger.

From information on site European Higher Education Area follows that the Bologna Group decided to suspend the rights of representation of the Russian Federation and Belarus in the organization. At the same time, Russia is still on the list of countries participating in the Bologna system.

Experts about the Bologna system

As Andrei Rudskoy, rector of Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University (SPbPU), noted in an interview with Izvestia, Russia’s departure from the Bologna system of education has been brewing for a long time. So, such a format is not suitable for those specialties that require many years of in-depth study, such as medicine and engineering.

At the same time, the expert stressed that the abandonment of the Bologna process should take place gradually. According to him, one should take the best from the Russian experience of a specialist and the postulates of the Bologna system in order to create a mixed structure as a result.

A similar opinion is shared by the teacher of the Russian language and literature, Lyubov Soykina. She also pointed out the need to create a kind of “hybrid” – to combine the positive developments of the Bologna system of education and their own practices.

According to the expert, the introduction of the Unified State Examination after joining the Bologna system led to the partial abolition of entrance examinations to universities and taking into account only the results of the exam. According to the teacher, the USE severely limited students in knowledge.

“Instead of really gaining knowledge, the ability to think, reason, schoolchildren simply train to quickly tick off the questionnaire. There is little left of real knowledge,” she said.

In turn, Yaroslav Skvortsov, Dean of the Faculty of International Journalism at MGIMO, stressed that in the current situation it is necessary to choose the model of education that is convenient and meets the needs of the market, science and economy. According to the expert, over the past 20–30 years, Russian universities have been integrated into the global educational process, but the Bologna system has not become part of academic life in Russia, although this system was oriented.

At the same time, lawyer Mikhail Pryadko clarified that Russia could legally return to the Bologna process.


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