Thoben, Christa, German Policy Studies
The European higher education area
The Bologna Process
After predominantly US and Australian universities recognised and actively embraced globalisation more than a decade ago, the 1999 "Bologna Process" has now led most European universities and governments to actively promote the internationalisation of the university system. By doing so, they have recognised that a Europe of culture and education, which must develop alongside a Europe of trade, industry and currency--if the unification process is to succeed--can only be brought about if future graduates as the top performers of European societies, experience the European concept of "unity in diversity" as a significant component of their education, and thus develop to both sensibly and productively use this diversity as a unique resource. Great productivity potential lies in the exchange between European cultures, and appropriate structures and forms of co-operation are being developed within the framework of Campus Europae to exploit this potential in a university context.
For more than 1,000 years, Europe has been viewed as having a common culture. Despite the differences in cultural experiences in each individual country, all are linked by a common tradition and an awareness of their "unity in diversity".
With the start of the European university system in the 11th century, it was natural over a period of several hundred years for students and lecturers to move around freely. The "Barbarossa Privilege" afforded the special protection of the King to those migrant scholars who had become "homeless for the love of science (amore scientie facti exules)". Using Latin as the lingua franca, universities were international beyond the Age of Enlightenment, without having to emphasise this characteristic.
The era of nationalism over the past 300 years has not left the universities unaffected. At times, they almost became strongholds of chauvinistic thought. After the Second World War, however, this nationalist concentration has met with little response in European universities. With the end of the Cold War, the last wall, which blocked personal mobility and the free exchange of thought, has been removed. The path is once again clear for a fresh Europeanisation of the university system.
The Present Situation
Internationalisation and globalisation are the dominating phenomena in the current global debate. They will shape the foreseeable future of science and business, politics and culture, even when confronted with counter-movements seeking to impose regionalism and isolation. The Europeanisation of higher education is therefore not just a key idea in a historical sense. It is equally the necessary conclusion to be drawn from current endeavours to encourage Europe to grow together politically, culturally and economically, resulting in a stronger Europe aware of its shared heritage: The foundations for the spiritual unity and strength of Europe lie in the respect of human rights, and in securing scientific universalism.
The restoration of the European dimension in the university system is a necessary pre-requisite in order to be able to survive in international competition with American, Asian and Australian universities.
Increased importance is placed upon the personal experiences acquired during a course of study. The systematic integration of inter-cultural activities is not in contrast to, but rather it complements the "virtual university" of the future and the Internet's ever increasing potential for long distance learning.
The Project Campus Europae
The idea of Campus Europae is to strengthen and accelerate the development of the European sphere of education initiated by the "Bologna Process" by establishing concrete co-operations:
Universities of different European countries intend to create a new dimension of collaboration, which will clearly exceed the current degree of international co-operation among universities, with respect to both intensity and quality. …