Integrating Azerbaijan’s higher educational system into European higher education area: Accomplishments, challenges and future prospects
The European Union has launched a process to create a European Higher Education Area (EHEA) by 2010. This is to be achieved through international cooperation and academic exchange in the context of the so-called Bologna Declaration. The EHEA entails, among other key changes, the establishment of a three-level degree system - bachelor, master and doctorate, the introduction of standard quality assurance mechanisms, and the definition of a common system of qualifications and academic credits. The Bologna Declaration was signed by the ministers of education from 29 European countries in that Italian city in June 1999. Currently, 46 countries are signatories to the EHEA, Montenegro being the last state to join the process in May 2007 in London. Azerbaijan committed itself to the goals of this process in May 2005 in Bergen, Norway, and is now hard at work bringing its higher educational institutions into line with Bologna requirements. After Azerbaijan signed on to the Bologna process, the country’s education ministry developed a comprehensive action plan, calling for the modernizing of the higher education system, a transfer to the credit system, the elaboration of new diploma supplements in compliance with the UNESCO recommendations, and the recognition of international documents on higher education in Azerbaijan. Under the action plan, a number of working groups composed of vice-rectors, deans and other qualified teaching staff have been set up in the pilot institutions where various components of the Bologna process such as transition to the credit system are carried out. The Ministry of Education has also helped organize various awareness training programs and national seminars to ensure that the Bologna principles are adopted and adapted to local conditions.
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