The conference “From Bologna to Barents” took place at Murmansk State Pedagogical University in Russia, February 10-11, 2009.

International coordinators from Northern Norwegian higher education institutions, together with colleagues at Pomor State University and Murmansk State Pedagogical University planned and organized the conference; and the Council of Higher education in Northern Norway formally invited participants.

bolognatobarrents2The main purpose of this conference was for Norwegian members of the University of the Arctic (UArctic) to share their experiences of the implementation of the Bologna process with Russian UArctic partners; and to see what could be done to ease the implementation on a daily administrative level – building and sharing competence north2north.

Approximately 70 academic and administrative staff members from six Norwegian and seven Russian higher education institutions in the Barents region and one representative from the Centre of Internationalization of higher education in Norway (SIU) attended the conference. Of these 13, only one is not yet a member of UArctic.

The content of the Bologna goals has been somewhat modified and expanded in the period after 1999, and today 46 countries have signed the declaration. The degree of implementation has varied. Norway is among the leading countries in Europe when it comes to fulfilling the Bologna goals.

One of the most important issues now is to find the best possible models for cooperation with the non-Bologna countries/areas. Russia has committed to implement the Bologna declaration before the end of 2010.

The Bologna declaration is, among other things, about adoption of comparable degrees, a joint system of credits, promotion of mobility for students, academic and administrative staff and a European cooperation in quality assurance. One important goal of the conference was also to build a Russian–Norwegian UArctic network to better the possibilities for mobility.

The Russian education system differs from the European system. Vasilij Kostjukevitch, Minister of education and research in Murmansk oblast said when he opened the conference that Europe has different philosophy of learning methods, than Russia. While the lecturers are the resource of knowledge in Russia, students abroad have to search for knowledge themselves while the lectures function more to motivate and supervise.

Vasilij Kostjukevitch also emphasised that it would be unforgivable for the Russian education system to risk loosing the valuable experiences and knowledge developed in many different areas such as mathematic and medicine. On the other hand, Kostjukevitch emphasized that “the framework of the Bologna-process is quite flexible,” and that they now have to concentrate on finding their way of implementing the Bologna declaration.

Some of the Russian participants mentioned other obstacles on the road towards a common European education system, such as rigid curriculum standards in Russia that make it difficult to implement a new degree structure, and developing new courses or making changes to old ones.

bolognatobarrents3The first day the more general perspective on the implementation of Bologna was on the agenda as degree structure, workload, learning outcome, joint degrees and admission and quality assurance. The focus of the second day was challenges and solutions in student mobility, such as: how to achieve balance in the mobility between Norway and Russia, recognition of courses taken abr