Restructuring Bulgarian Higher Education
The push towards membership in the European Union has been a major force in the development of Eastern and Central European countries. Bulgaria, like most post-communist societies, redirected its efforts towards entering the European Union immediately after the fall of the totalitarian regime. The country was granted associate membership in 1993. Negotiations for full membership began in January 2000. Amongst the first chapters to be signed by the Bulgarian government and the European Commission were those on “Education and Professional Qualification” and “Science and Research”. The completion of these two chapters signalled that the educational legislative framework in Bulgaria possessed the requisite conditions for accession to the European Union.
The EU objective of creating a “European area of higher education” is designed to promote free mobility of students, faculty and researchers in an integrated educational market. This network of higher education is to be created through voluntary co-operation among the different member states. Until the seventies, national governments were the dominant actors within the European Community and inter-governmental co-operation was the rule. In the eighties, the European Community became a key player in the implementation of higher education policies. Several action programmes and a declaration signed in Maastricht in 1992 stated that national governments should continue to have primary responsibility for higher education (Beverwijk 1999). Nevertheless, EU legislation and action programmes have had a strong influence on national governments and universities. TEMPUS, ERASMUS and ECTS have stimulated student mobility and the introduction of new institutional structures. Three more declarations, the Lisbon Declaration of 1997, the Sorbonne Declaration of 1998, and the Bologna Declaration of 1999, as well as the results of the European Ministers of Higher Education Prague Summit in 2001, have all supported the drive towards the harmonisation of the architecture of the European Higher Education System.
KeywordsHigh Education High Education System Bachelor Degree Legislative Framework Student Mobility
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