Digitalisation should not be viewed as an additional challenge, but as a powerful means to meet existing challenges for higher education. This is the main argument of the position paper “Bologna Digital”, a joint initiative (find the blog here) supported by several higher education stakeholders, including Hochschulforum Digitalisierung (HFD), Kiron Open Higher Education, FiBS Research, the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU), the Groningen Declaration Network (GDN) and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE). It was published online ahead of the EHEA Ministerial Conference in Paris in May 2018. “Bologna Digital” provides 17 concrete recommendations. Examples include the provision of online introductory courses, the establishment of standardised processes for the evaluation and recognition of qualifications acquired through different (open) online formats, the development of quality assurance mechanisms for digital teaching and learning, and opportunity for virtual student exchange.
Twenty years after the Sorbonne Declaration, the key challenges of opening up higher education, improving the quality of teaching and learning, reforming assessment and recognition, and promoting internationalisation and mobility remain the same for all countries in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). The authors and supporters of the position paper "Bologna Digital" argue that digitalisation can significantly contribute to overcoming them.
Digitalisation has not been ignored within the Bologna Process (for more on the Bologna Process see here). Policy-makers, individual higher education institutions and other education providers have been active. However, the full potential of digitalisation has not been reached on systemic level. This is partly due to digitalisation being viewed as an additional challenge, rather than a means to meet existing challenges for higher education. In order to emphasise this point, the position paper discusses digital solutions in the context of the main action lines of the Bologna Process. For each of these, it presents current challenges and discusses how digital solutions can contribute to solving them.
It is the aim of the authors and supporters of the position paper that the Paris Communiqué from the Ministers’ Conference 24-25 May 2018 (for more see here), and the work programme which comes after it, should pay even more attention to the benefits, but also to the challenges related to the increasing digitalisation of our lives. Also the envisaged ‘European Universities’ should set examples in digitalising education, research and innovation.
Attaining a ‘Bologna Digital’ by 2020 is not a separate action line, but a cross-sectional goal which can improve higher education performance in all existing action lines.