THE FORGOTTEN FACE OF THE BOLOGNA PROCESS: THE SOCIAL DIMENSION
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Keywords:European Higher Education Area, Bologna Process, Student Participation, Social Dimension, Higher Education
The Bologna process is a reform process that was initiated in 1999 to create a common European Higher Education Area and continued with the participation of 48 countries as of 2019. One of the objectives of the Bologna process is to ensure the harmonization between higher education systems, increase international prestige and enable students to study and find jobs outside their own countries. An important component of the Bologna process is the concept of social dimension. The concept of Social Dimension is the process of achieving the objective of reflecting the diversity of societies in the groups of students who reach, participate in and complete higher education. The social dimension of the Bologna process aims to ensure that everyone has equal access to higher education and successfully completes his/her education. Again, in the Bologna process, student participation is seen as one of the most important components of governance in higher education. However, implementation in this area is moving slow and inadequate. In addition, there are no healthy indicators and data on which developments can be monitored. In the works of student unions in Europe, it is stated that students support the vision of a common higher education area, but do not feel as part of such a European system. Indeed, this ignorance of the social dimension turns the whole process into a hollow structural reform framework. The social dimension is the most important component representing the European tradition which prevents the Bologna Process from being a typical Americanization movement and perceives higher education as a public service. Higher education should not underestimate its centuries-old traditions and the purpose of public interest, while making changes in accordance with the conditions of the day. For this reason, studies on the social dimension in higher education should be increased and reflected in the policy area. The aim of this study is to examine the current situation related to the social dimension of the Bologna process, identify problem areas and develop policy recommendations.
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