MB University

Bologna process

The content of The Bologna Declaration


Joint Statement of European Education Ministers from the Bologna Meeting on 19 June, 1999.

The European process, thanks to the extraordinary achievements of the last few years, has become an increasingly concrete and relevant reality for the Union and its citizens.

Enlargement prospects together with deepening relations with other European countries, provide even wider dimensions to that reality. Meanwhile, we are witnessing a growing awareness in large parts of the political and academic world and in public opinion of the need to establish a completer and more far-reaching Europe, in particular building upon and strengthening its intellectual, cultural, social and scientific and technological dimensions.

A Europe of Knowledge is now widely recognised as an irreplaceable factor for social and human growth and as an indispensable component to consolidate and enrich the European citizenship, capable of giving its citizens the necessary competences to face the challenges of the new millennium, together with an awareness of shared values and belonging to a common social and cultural space.

The importance of education and educational co-operation in the development and strengthening of stable, peaceful and democratic societies is universally acknowledged as paramount, the more so in view of the situation in South East Europe. The Sorbonne declaration of 25th of May 1998, which was underpinned by these considerations, stressed the Universities' central role in developing European cultural dimensions. It emphasised the creation of the European area of higher education as a key way to promote citizens' mobility and employability and the Continent's overall development.

Several European countries have accepted the invitation to commit themselves to achieving the objectives set out in the declaration, by signing it or expressing their agreement in principle. The direction taken by several higher education reforms launched in the meantime in Europe has proved many Governments' determination to act. European higher education institutions, for their part, have accepted the challenge and taken up a main role in constructing the European area of higher education, also in the wake of the fundamental principles laid down in the Bologna Magna Charta Universitatum of 1988. This is of the highest importance, given that Universities' independence and autonomy ensure that higher education and research systems continuously adapt to changing needs, society's demands and advances in scientific knowledge.

The course has been set in the right direction and with meaningful purpose. The achievement of greater compatibility and comparability of the systems of higher education nevertheless requires continual momentum in order to be fully accomplished. We need to support it through promoting concrete measures to achieve tangible forward steps. The 18th June meeting saw participation by authoritative experts and scholars from all our countries and provided us with very useful suggestions on the initiatives to be taken. We must in particular look at the objective of increasing the international competitiveness of the European system of higher education.

The vitality and efficiency of any civilisation can be measured by the appeal that its culture has for other countries. We need to ensure that the European higher education system acquires a world-wide degree of attraction equal to our extraordinary cultural and scientific traditions. While affirming our support to the general principles laid down in the Sorbonne declaration, we engage in co-ordinating our policies to reach in the short term, and in any case within the first decade of the third millennium, the following objectives, which we consider to be of primary relevance in order to establish the European area of higher education and to promote the European system of higher education world-wide: Adoption of a system of easily readable and comparable degrees, also through the implementation of the Diploma Supplement, in order to promote European citizens employability and the international competitiveness of the European higher education system.

Adoption of a system essentially based on two main cycles, undergraduate and graduate. Access to the second cycle shall require successful completion of first cycle studies, lasting a minimum of three years. The degree awarded after the first cycle shall also be relevant to the European labour market as an appropriate level of qualification.

The second cycle should lead to the master and/or doctorate degree as in many European countries. Establishment of a system of credits - such as in the ECTS system - as a proper means of promoting the most widespread student mobility. Credits could also be acquired in non-higher education contexts, including lifelong learning, provided they are recognised by receiving Universities concerned.

Promotion of mobility by overcoming obstacles to the effective exercise of free movement with particular attention to:

– students, access to study and training opportunities and to related services,

– teachers, researchers and administrative staff, recognition and valorisation of periods spent in a European context researching, teaching and training, without prejudicing their statutory rights.

Promotion of European co-operation in quality assurance with a view to developing comparable criteria and methodologies. Promotion of the necessary European dimensions in higher education, particularly with regards to curricular development, interinstitutional co-operation, mobility schemes and integrated programs of study, training and research. We hereby undertake to attain these objectives - within the framework of our institutional competences and taking full respect of the diversity of cultures, languages, national education systems and of university autonomy - to consolidate the European area of higher education. To that end, we will pursue the ways of intergovernmental co-operation, together with those of non-governmental European organisations with competence on higher education. We expect universities again to respond promptly and positively and to contribute actively to the success of our endeavors. Convinced that the establishment of the European area of higher education requires constant support, supervision and adaptation to the continuously evolving needs, we decide to meet again within two years in order to assess the progress achieved and the new steps to be taken.

The Bologna Declaration

The Bologna Declaration, signed in 1999 by higher education ministers from multiple European nations, marked the commencement of the Bologna Process. This transformative initiative is designed to culminate in the establishment of a cohesive European framework for university education and research by 2010, all while respecting the differences of national identities, cultures, languages, and traditions. The overarching goal of the Bologna Process is to foster a more adaptable and effective higher education system throughout Europe, one that can confidently compete on the global stage of knowledge exchange and innovation. By harmonizing standards and promoting mobility, the initiative seeks to create a more flexible and efficient system of higher education in Europe, which would be competitive on the global market.

To this day, over 40 European countries, including ours, have signed the Bologna Declaration.

The most important commitments (measures) within the Bologna Process are the following:

- introduction of ECTS (The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System)

- the adoption of a new study structure, consisting of 3 cycles

– promoting the mobility of students and teachers

- adopting a system of comparable degrees.

In 2005, the Parliament of the Republic of Serbia adopted a new Law on Higher Education, aligning with the principles of the Bologna Process.

The key terms in relation with the Bologna Declaration include the following:

The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS)

Learning outcomes

Diploma Supplement

Study types and cycles

Mobility and Bologna Process


Mandatory and elective subjects

Funding the studies

European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) is a unique system of quantitative valuation of workload undertaken by students in acquiring knowledge, skills (learning outcomes) which are outlined in the study program, and in each specific subject covered by the program.

Points serve as a common "currency" within the European higher education system, reflecting the student's efforts as validated through examinations.

Basic characteristics of ECTS system:

– the student's total workload encompasses various activities, including attending lectures and exercises, participating in consultations, preparing for classes, working on seminar papers, projects, and completing their final paper, etc.

– a convention was established where 60 points serve as a quantitative measure of the workload for an average student in one academic year, with 30 points allocated per semester.

– one point equates to approximately 25-30 hours of student effort.

– on average, a student dedicates around 40 hours per week to their studies.

– points are allocated to each teaching component within the study program, including subjects, modules, study programs, theses, dissertations, and other related elements.

– points for a specific exam are awarded to the student only upon successful completion of that exam.

– points serve as distinct indicators separated from grades and do not substitute for them.

The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) facilitates student mobility within the European higher education area by enabling the transfer and accumulation of credits earned across different institutions. It streamlines the recognition of diplomas among European countries, fostering the European dimension of higher education. The allocation of points is not automatic; rather, it signifies the validated quality of both the program and the institution responsible for awarding them.

This system enables students to accumulate points throughout their studies until they attain a sufficient number for a specific qualification. The required number of points is determined by the study program in which the student is enrolled.

In our higher education system, the academic calendar spans from October 1st to September 30th of the subsequent year, structured into two equitable segments known as semesters, each encompassing 30 points. Academic year can be divided into three trimesters, but it still remains less prevalent across our universities.

The number of subjects undertaken by a student per semester fluctuates, depending on the specific study programs and faculties. Each course carries a distinct number of points determined by the obligations necessary for student success, namely the workload measured in time units dedicated to fulfilling all exam requirements. A lower point allocation doesn't diminish a subject's significance; rather, it signifies a lesser time commitment needed to grasp the intended learning outcomes. Conversely, the point allocation isn't directly correlated with the number of lecture and exercise hours.

Points are allocated to each subject following a thorough analysis of the comprehensive time needed to effectively grasp the material and successfully navigate the examination process.

Learning outcomes 

These include the competencies, skills, and attitudes that a student attains throughout a specific period of study. They do not refer to the mere content or teaching methodology but rather to what a student is anticipated to acquire or cultivate during their educational journey. These outcomes are defined for both the entire study program and for individual subjects, providing a comprehensive framework for educational achievement. It is considered that a student who successfully passes an exam, regardless of the grade attained, has effectively acquired the designated competencies, or learning outcomes, and therefore "earned" the allocated points.

Diploma Supplement

Upon completion of their studies, students, in addition to a diploma, receive an official document called Diploma Supplement. This document provides a standardized overview of the nature, level, content, and current status of the studies completed successfully by the student. The document outlines the specifics of the study program alongside the attained grades. Beyond simply listing exams passed and the corresponding ECTS points, the diploma supplement may encompass a broader spectrum of information, such as professors' names and the student's extracurricular engagements throughout their academic journey. This could entail involvement in student organizations, participation in sports and cultural events, attendance at faculty-organized courses and seminars, proficiency in foreign languages, and more.

Diplomas and Diploma Supplements are issued for all three study cycles in both Serbian and English. The diploma supplement holds significant importance in terms of student mobility and future employment prospects. Beyond the title conferred in the diploma, it provides a comprehensive overview of the mastered study program's content.

Study types and cycles

There are two types of studies in our country:

– Academic studies are designed to prepare students for the cultivation and utilization of scientific, professional, and artistic accomplishments. Rooted in theoretical frameworks, these studies are typically undertaken within the university setting.; and

– Vocational studies aimed at equipping students to apply the knowledge and skills needed for inclusion in the work process. They are more related to solving practical problems, and are carried out in the former higher schools (today's higher schools of vocational studies), but they can also be carried out at the university.

Mobility and Bologna Process

The primary objective of the Bologna process is to facilitate and promote student and teaching staff mobility within the European higher education area. Many of the measures introduced under the Bologna Process, such as the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS), the restructured study framework, the diversification of diplomas, among others, are aimed at streamlining and enhancing the mobility of students, teaching staff, and researchers within the European higher education landscape, ensuring a smoother and more secure exchange experience.

Mobility means the seamless movement of students, faculty, and researchers between universities, both domestically and internationally. This includes various forms of engagement, such as short-term exchanges (e.g., a semester or academic year abroad) or the sustained pursuit of studies across different institutions.

Student mobility stands as a cornerstone of the European Union's educational policy agenda, reflected in the substantial financial commitments to mobility initiatives like Erasmus, Erasmus Mundus, and similar programs.


Exams can be conducted orally, in writing, or through practical assessment, with the latter being particularly prevalent in art and medical faculties. As outlined by the Law on Higher Education, examination terms are the following: January, April, June, September, and October.

After fulfilling the pre-examination obligations specific to each subject, students proceed to take the exam promptly. Under the revised study system, students are granted up to three attempts to pass an exam. Failing to do so requires repeating the course and fulfilling all pre-examination obligations anew.

Exam grades span from 5 to 10, with 5 denoting a failing grade and 10 representing the highest achievable score. The student's grade is formed through continuous engagement with the subject throughout the semester.

The Law on Higher Education requires instructors to consistently oversee students' progress throughout the semester. Each subject is typically assessed on a 100-point scale, with pre-examination obligations accounting for a minimum of 30 and a maximum of 70 points. These points are earned exclusively upon successful fulfillment of the pre-examination requirements as outlined in the program.

The total score of 100 points encompasses various components, such as participation and contributions in lectures and exercises, completion of seminar papers, independent research papers, practical assignments, fieldwork, participation in colloquiums, and performance in exams. At the onset of the course, instructors are expected to inform students about the point allocation for each of these activities.

A student can attain a maximum of 100 points through their pre-exam obligations and performance in the exam. The assessment method is determined by the faculty's statute and the study program, varying according to the accumulated points. Upon successfully passing the course, irrespective of the grade received, the student earns the exact number of ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) points designated for that course, as illustrated in the table example.

Mandatory and elective subjects

Each study program outlines mandatory courses that students are required to complete as part of their curriculum. Additionally, particularly in the later stages of study, students are presented with a selection of elective courses to choose from based on their individual interests. It's essential to note that the combined total of mandatory and elective course points typically amounts to 30 points per semester or 60 points for the entire academic year.

Funding the studies

Under the new study system, a certain number of students is expected to receive financial support from the budget, while the remainder should finance their own studies. Throughout the academic year, students under budgetary support are required to enroll in a sufficient number of subjects to accrue a minimum of 60 ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) points. If a student, funded by the state budget, accumulates a minimum of 60 ECTS points during the academic year, they maintain their sponsored status for the subsequent academic year. However, if a student fails to amass 60 points during the academic year, they will enroll in the following year under the status of a self-financed student.

A self-financed student chooses the courses totaling a minimum of 37 ECTS points, with no maximum limit specified. Additionally, if a self-financed student accumulates 60 ECTS points in one academic year, they may qualify for financial assistance in the subsequent year. A student can exercise this right if there are vacancies within the estimated number of students funded by the state. Allocation is determined by the student's overall academic performance, with guidelines set forth in the university and faculty statutes.

In Europe, faculties commonly adopt the Bologna system for education. A significant difference from prior systems lies in the examination process, which now includes colloquiums and a scoring system. Central to the Bologna system is the comprehensive scoring of all aspects of student engagement, including seminar paper preparation, lecture and exercise attendance, active class participation, colloquiums, and projects.

Each subject carries a certain number of points, and the sum of points of all subjects in one year is: 60 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) represents the European scoring system, defined in the Bologna Declaration. One point actually represents the student's work in a period of 25-30 hours. In addition to the scoring system, the principles outlined in the Bologna Declaration also led to alterations in the titles conferred upon completion of study cycles.

– The first cycle of studies lasts 3 or 4 years and upon its completion, 180 or 240 ECTS points are obtained and the title of completed undergraduate studies (the degree of Bachelor) or equivalent.

– The second cycle of studies typically spans 1 or 2 years, culminating in the acquisition of either 60 or 120 ECTS points and earning a master's degree or its equivalent.

– The third cycle of studies lasts for 3 years, leading to the attainment of 180 ECTS points and conferring the title of doctor or its equivalent upon completion.


Official documents of the Bologna Process:

– QA Magna Charta Universitatum

– QA Lisabon Convention 1997

– QA The Sorbonne Declaration 1998

– QA The Bologna Declaration 1999

– QA The Prague Communique 2001

– QA The Salaman Appeal 2001

– QA The Berlin Communiqué 2003

– QA The Bergen Communiqué 2005

– QA ENQA Standards and Guidelines for Quality Insurance 2005

– QA London Communiqué 2007

– QA Lueven Communiqué 2009

– QA Budapest – Viena Communiqué 2010

– QA The Bucharest Communiqué 2012

– QA Yerevan Communiqué 2015

– Revised ESG for quality insurance


Useful links

– Word University Service Austria WUS Austria – wus-austria.org

– The European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education -ENQA – enqa.eu

– European University Association – eud.eu

– National Union of Students -ESIB – esu-online.org

– European Consortium for Accreditation -ECA – ecaconsortium.net

– The International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education - INQAAHE: http://www.inqaahe.org/

– European Center for Higher Education-UNESCO CEPES – www.unesco.org