December 23, 2020

Bologna Ministerial Conference Endorses Ombuds for European Universities

The European Network of Ombuds in Higher Education shared the recent news that the Bologna Ministerial Conference recommended the creation of Ombuds programs by members of the European Higher Education Area. ENOHE is positioned to directly benefit from any growth in the number of university Ombuds in Europe. Here is the full summary by Bo Gad Køhlert, Student Ambassador at the University of Copenhagen and Secretary to the ENOHE Board:
Higher education ministers or their representatives from 49 member states of the Council of Europe participating in the so-called “Bologna Process” have met mid-November 2020 at an online ministerial conference arranged by Rome, Italy. This was the most recent meeting of the said highest level political group in higher education. The Rome Ministerial Communiqué, which was approved during this conference, is considered to be a policy document that will aim to guide the next decade of the development of the European Higher Education Area as such, the higher education institutions in it and the university programmes in particular. The Rome closing documents are supposed to chart the way for the now third decade after the original signing of the so-called Bologna Declaration in 1999.

The Rome Ministerial Communiqué contains the following paragraph:

“We recognize the importance of safeguarding student rights through legislation; we commit to developing and supporting them in our national systems through dedicated measures and structures, such as student ombudspersons or similar solutions that already exist in many EHEA countries. We commit to enabling such arrangements within our countries and higher education systems and will encourage cooperation within the European Network of Ombuds in Higher Education (ENOHE).”

With this statement, for the first time, the importance of Ombuds offices in higher education has been mentioned in a European-wide document that gives guidelines for the further development also for international cooperation within higher education in Europe and beyond.

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