Lessons for the Future of the Bologna Process and the Internationalization of Higher Education

  • Beverly BarrettEmail author


The progress of the case-study countries, Portugal and Spain, toward change in higher education provide important lessons for policy reforms at the national level. Domestic political attributes that incentivize reforms are supportive leadership at the national and institutional levels, dedicated funding, and governmental structure. The case-study research identified that the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) for the degree structure in the EHEA was established in 2007 both in Portugal and in Spain. The three explanatory variables—economic pressures from globalization, domestic politics from intergovernmentalism, and ideational processes from the EU supranational governance through Europeanization—have promoted international policy coordination and institutional change in higher education in the region of Europe. The EHEA model has influenced other world regions to adopt similar policy reforms in higher education. The ties of Portugal and Spain with countries in Ibero-America come from their shared cultural and historical experiences.


  1. Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU). (2016). World university rankings for Spain. Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. Retrieved from
  2. Ansell, Ben W. (2008). Traders, teachers, and tyrants: Democracy, globalization, and public investment in education. International Organization, 62(2), 289–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bologna Process. (1999). The Bologna declaration of 19 June 1999: Joint declaration of the European Ministers of Education.Google Scholar
  4. Börzel, T. A. (2000). From competitive regionalism to cooperative federalism: The Europeanization of the Spanish state of the autonomies. The Journal of Federalism, 30(2), 17–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Börzel, T. A., & Risse, T. (2012). From Europeanisation to diffusion: Introduction. West European Politics, 35(1), 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bourdan, M. (2012). L’Europe des universitaires. Collection Europa. Grenoble: Presses Universitaires de Grenoble.Google Scholar
  7. Cantwell, B., & Kauppinen, I. (Eds.). (2014). Academic capitalism in the age of globalization. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Corbett, A. (2005). Universities and the Europe of Knowledge: Ideas, institutions and policy entrepreneurship in European union higher education 1955–2005. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Correia Fernandes, Maria de Lurdes. (2012, July 23, 2013, May 29). Professor of the Humanities; Former Vice-Rector, University of Porto, Portuguese Member of the Bologna Follow Up Group (2011–2014).Google Scholar
  10. Dinan, D. (2014). Origins and evolution of the European union, 2nd edition. The New European Union Series. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Ellwood, D. W. (2013, July). Senior Adjunct Professor of European and Eurasian Studies, Johns Hopkins University SAIS Europe. Formerly Associate Professor of Contemporary International History, University of Bologna. Correspondence.Google Scholar
  12. EHEA Pathfinder Group on Automatic Recognition. (2015, January). Report by the EHEA Pathfinder Group on Automatic Recognition. To Present to the Ministers of the Bologna Ministerial in Yerevan, Armenia.Google Scholar
  13. Elken, M., & Stensaker, B. (2012). Policies for quality in higher education coordination and consistency in EU-policy-making 2000–2010. European Journal of Higher Education, 1(4), 297–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. EurActiv. (2013). Eight EU Countries Hit 2020 Education Goals Early: Eurostat. Retrieved April 12, 2013, from
  15. European Commission. (1997). Towards a Europe of Knowledge. COM(97) 563 final. Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. November 12, 1997.Google Scholar
  16. European Commission. (2013a, July 11). European higher education in the world. Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the European Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. COM(2013) 499 final.Google Scholar
  17. European Commission. (2013b). Spring 2013 Eurobarometer: A greater dose of optimism. Press Release 23 July 2013, Retrieved from
  18. European Commission. (2015, November 26). European semester thematic fiche: Tertiary education attainment.Google Scholar
  19. European Commission. (2016). Directorate-general for education and culture. Education and Training Monitor. Google Scholar
  20. European Higher Education Area. (2012). Ministerial conference and third Bologna policy forum. Retrieved from
  21. European Union: High Level Group on the Modernisation of Higher Education. (2013). Report to the European commission: Improving the quality of teaching and learning in Europe’s higher education institutions. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.Google Scholar
  22. Fearon, J., & Wendt, A. (2002). Rationalism vs. constructivism: A skeptical view. In W. Carlsnaes, T. Risse, & B. A. Simmons (Eds.), Handbook of international relations (pp. 52–72). London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Frank, D. J., & Meyer, J. W. (2007). University expansion and the knowledge society. Theory and Society, 36(4), 287–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Freire, M. R. (2013, May 28). Assistant Professor, International Relations in Faculty of Economics. Portugal: University of Coimbra.Google Scholar
  25. Goertz, G., & Mahoney, J. (2012). A tale of two cultures: Qualitative and quantitative research in the social sciences. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gomez-Mera, L. (2013). Power and regionalism in Latin America: The politics of MERCOSUR. Notre Dame, IN: The University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar
  27. Hall, P. A. (2010). Historical institutionalism in rational and sociological perspective. In J. Mahoney & K. Thelen (Eds.), Explaining institutional change: Ambiguity, agency, and power. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Hall, P. A., & Taylor, R. C. R. (1996). Political science and the three new institutionalisms. Political Studies, XLIV, 936–957.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kamens, D. H. (2012). Beyond the nation-state: The reconstruction of nationhood and citizenship. Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Keohane, R. O., & Milner, H. M. (Eds.). (1996). Internationalization and domestic politics. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Lagier, H. (2013, February, 2016, September 1). Direction des Relations Européennes et Internationales et de la Coopération (DREIC). Ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche. Program Officer, European and International Cooperation, Ministry of Higher Education and Research, France. Correspondence.Google Scholar
  32. Lenz, T. (2012). Spurred emulation: The EU and regional integration in Mercosur and SADC. West European Politics, 35(1), 155–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lijphart, A. (1999). Patterns of democracy: Government forms and performance in 36 countries. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Llavori de Micheo, R. (2013, May 24, 2016, November 16). Director of International Relations ANECA (National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation of Spain) and Board Member, ENQA (European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education).Google Scholar
  35. Malamud, A. (2012). Sovereignty in back, integration out: Latin America travails with regionalism. In J. Roy (Ed.), The state of the union(s): The Eurozone crisis, comparative regional integration and the EU model (pp. 177–190). Miami: Miami-Florida European Union Center of Excellence.Google Scholar
  36. Martens, K., Knodel, P., & Windzio, M. (2014). Internationalization of education policy: A new constellation of statehood in education?. London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Matilla Vicente, C. (2012, July 20, 2013, May 23). Director of International Relations, Secretary General of Universities, Ministry of Education, Spain.Google Scholar
  38. Mazza, C., Quattrone, P., & Riccaboni, A. (Eds.). (2008). European universities in transition: Issues, models, and cases. Northampton: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited.Google Scholar
  39. Milner, H. V. (1997). Interests, institutions, and information: Domestic politics and international relations. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport. (2015). Datos y Cifras del Sistema Universitaria Español, Curso 2015–2016. Data and Figures of the Spanish University System, School Year 2015–2016.Google Scholar
  41. Molina, I. (2012, July 20, 2016, June 3). Senior Analyst, Europe, Elcano Royal Institute of International and Strategic Studies, Spain.Google Scholar
  42. Moravcsik, A. (1998). The choice for Europe: Social purpose and state power from Messina to Maastricht. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Moravcsik, A., & Schimmelfennig, F. (2009). Liberal intergovernmentalism. In A. Wiener & T. Diez (Eds.), European integration theory (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Musselin, C. (2008). Les politiques d’enseignement supérieur. In O. Borraz & V. Guiraudon (Eds.), Politiques Publiques (pp. 147–172). Paris: Presses de Sciences Po “Académique”.Google Scholar
  45. Nava, F. (2013, January 9). Consul General of Italy in Houston, Texas.Google Scholar
  46. Neave, G. (2009). The Bologna Process as alpha or omega, or, on interpreting history and context as inputs to Bologna, Prague, Berlin, and Beyond. In A. Amaral, G. Neave, C. Musselin, & P. Maassen (Eds.), European integration and the governance of higher education and research (pp. 17–58). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Neave, G. (2012). The evaluative state, institutional autonomy and re-engineering higher education in Western Europe: The prince and his pleasure. London: Palgrave MacMillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Neave, G., & Maassen, P. (2007). The Bologna Process: An intergovernmental policy perspective. In P. Maassen & J. P. Olsen (Eds.), University dynamics and European integration. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  49. Nokkola, T. (2007). The Bologna process and the role of higher education: Discursive construction of the European higher education area. In J. Enders & B. Jongbloed (Eds.), Public-private dynamics in higher education: Expectations, developments and outcomes (pp. 221–245). Piscataway: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar
  50. Nokkola, T. (2012). Institutional autonomy and the attractiveness of the European higher education area—facts or tokenistic discourse. In A. Curaj, P. Scott, L. Vlasceanu, & L. Wilson (Eds.), European higher education at the crossroad: Between the Bologna Process and national reforms. Parts 1 and 2. Dordrecht: Springer Science + Business Media.Google Scholar
  51. Oppenheimer, A. (2012, June 11). New ‘Pacific Alliance’ bloc may have a chance. Miami Herald. Google Scholar
  52. Peters, B. G. (2012). Institutional theory in political science: The new institutionalism (3rd ed.). New York: Continuum Books.Google Scholar
  53. Pierson, P. (1996). The path to European integration: A historical institutionalist analysis. Comparative Political Studies, 29(2), 123–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Pierson, P. (2000). Increasing returns, path dependence and the study of politics. American Political Science Review, 94, (2).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Pierson, P. (2004). Politics in time: History, analysis, and social analysis. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. PORDATA. (2016). Despesas do Estado em educação: execução orçamental em % do PIB—Portugal. Funda Francisco Manuel do Santo. Retrieved from
  57. Radaelli, C. M. (2008, September). Europeanization, policy learning, and new modes of governance. Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis, 10 (3), 239–254.Google Scholar
  58. Rauhvargers, A., Deane, C., & Pauwels, W. (2009). Bologna Process stocktaking report 2009: Report from working groups appointed by the Bologna follow-up group to the ministerial conference in Leuven/Louvain-la-Neuve. Bologna Process Benelux.Google Scholar
  59. Ravinet, P. (2005). The Sorbonne meeting and declaration: Actors, shared vision and Europeanisation. Report for the third conference on Knowledge and Politics, University of Bergen.Google Scholar
  60. Regini, M. (2011). European universities and the challenge of the market: A comparative analysis. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Renzi, M. (2016, October 19). Speech address at Johns Hopkins university school of advanced international studies (SAIS). Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  62. Ritzen, J. (2010). A chance for European universities. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.Google Scholar
  63. Rosa, M. J., Sarrico, C. S., Tavares, O., & Amaral, A. (2016). Cross-border higher education and quality assurance: Commerce, the service directive and governing higher education. London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Rosamond, B. (2002). Imagining the European economy: ‘Competitiveness’ and the social construction of ‘Europe’ as an economic space. New Political Economy, 7(2), 157–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Schmidt, V. A. (2009). The EU and its member states: From bottom up to top down. In D. Phinnemore & A. Warleigh-Lack (Eds.), Reflections on European integration: 50 years of the treaty of Rome (pp. 194–211). London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Schmidt, V. A., & Claudio, M. R. (2004). Policy change and discourse in Europe: Conceptual and methodological issues. West European Politics, 27(2), 183–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Schmidt, V. A., & Thatcher, M. (Eds.). (2013). Resilient liberalism in Europe’s political economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  68. Studer, I. (2012a, December 4). 2012: A New Mexican vision for North American integration. Modern Mexico Task Force, Center for Hemispheric Policy, University of Miami.Google Scholar
  69. Studer, I. (2012b). Mercados de trabajo y capital humano en América del Norte: oportunidades perdidas. Foro Internacional, 209(3), 584–627.Google Scholar
  70. Sursock, A., & Smidt, H. (2010). Trends 2010: A decade of change in European higher education. Brussels: European Universities Association.Google Scholar
  71. Temple, P. (Ed.). (2012). Universities in the knowledge economy: Higher education organisation and global change. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  72. Teixera, P. (2016, June 14). Vice-Rector and Professor of Economics, University of Porto.Google Scholar
  73. Tuning, Africa. (2013). 2013 year of Pan Africanism and European commission. Retrieved from
  74. Tyson, A. (2012, April 25, 2016, September 6). Acting director for strategy and evaluation, former head of UnitC1, higher education and Erasmus, directorate-general education and culture, European commission.Google Scholar
  75. UNESCO. (2015). Consolidated report on the implementation of the 1993 recommendation on the recognition of studies and qualifications in higher education. General Conference 38th Session, Paris. 38 C/72 November 2, 2015.Google Scholar
  76. U.S. Department of State. (2013). Fact Sheet. United States-Mexico Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation, and Research. Retrieved May 2, 2013, from
  77. Vassar, D., & Barrett, B. (2014, August 20). U.S.-Mexico academic mobility: Trends, challenges, and opportunities. Mexico Center Issue Brief. Baker Institute for Public Policy, Rice University, Houston, Texas.Google Scholar
  78. Veiga, A., & Amaral, A. (2009). Survey on the implementation of the Bologna Process in Portugal. Higher Education, 57(1), 57–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Vergera, A., & Javier, P. H. (2010). The governance of higher education regionalisation: Comparative analysis of the Bologna Process and mercosur-educativo. Globalisation, Societies, and Education, 8(1), 105–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Vögtle, E. M. (2010). Beyond Bologna: The Bologna Process as a global template for higher education reform efforts. Transformation of the State, (Working Papers. No. 129). University of Bremen. Konstanzer Online Publikations System (KOPS).Google Scholar
  81. Wendt, A. (1992). Anarchy is what states make of it: The social construction of power politics. International Organization, 46(2), 391–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Wiener, A., & Diez, T. (Eds.). (2009). European integration theory (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  83. Woldegiorgis, E. T. (2013). Conceptualizing harmonization of higher education systems. Higher Education Studies, 3(2), 12–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Wood, D. (2013). Educational cooperation and exchanges: An emerging issue. Washington, D.C.: Wilson Center for International Scholars, Mexico Institute.Google Scholar
  85. World Bank Group. (2013). Doing business: Measuring business regulation. Retrieved from
  86. World Bank Group. (2016). The Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) project. Retrieved from:

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of HoustonHoustonUSA

Personalised recommendations