Clifford Adelman has written a report for the Institute for Higher Education Policy describing and analyzing Europe's Bologna Process. The Bologna Club: What U.S. Higher Education Can Learn from a Decade of European Reconstruction is timely and should be useful to those U.S. higher education systems and institutions working to improve upon and measurably account for their performance.
The inter-nation Bologna process was initiated in 1999 to foster greater "convergence" within European tertiary education in order to create a "European Higher Education Area." It's not a stretch to suggest that Secretary Spelling's Commission on the Future of Higher Education has recommended that U.S. higher education focus on "convergence" and common accountability practices in order to create a national understanding of the importance of higher education and how to navigate its opportunities most efficiently to greatest individual and national effect.
Anticipating and responding to many of the Commission's suggestions in Bologna's spirit of convergence, the Lumina Foundation's Making Opportunity Affordable grant program is initiating what appears to date to be the closest U.S. cousin to the Bologna Process, albeit at a statewide level, not at a national level. Eleven states have been competitively selected through a preliminary planning-grant process. Ultimately, up to five of these states will be selected for multi-year implementation grants. The hope is that the MOA states will find a way to converge on some level of common goals and effective practices.
The eleven MOA states -- indeed, all U.S. postsecondary institutions -- would do well to study Adelman's report. As he puts it, "Our primary story is about providing students with clear indications of what their paths through higher education look like, what levels of knowledge and skills will qualify them for degree awards, and what their degrees mean. These are road signs that are sorely lacking now. Student “success” does not mean merely that you have been awarded a degree, but that you have learned something substantial along the way and that the world knows what you have learned, what skills you have mastered, and that you have the momentum to meet the rising knowledge content of the global economy."