EHEA Website Archive

Social dimension: equitable access and completion 2009-2012

Historical overview in the Bologna Process

The Social Dimension is one of the overarching Bologna Process themes, appearing for the first time in the Prague Communiqué (2001) where

Ministers reaffirmed the need, recalled by students to take account of the social dimension in the Bologna process.

At the following ministerial conferences, the social dimension was described as an integral part of the EHEA and a necessary condition for enhancing the attractiveness and competitiveness of the EHEA (Bergen Communiqué, 2005).

With the London Communiqué of May 2007, ministers responsible for higher education agreed on a common definition for the objective of the social dimension:

We share the societal aspiration that the student body entering, participating in and completing higher education at all levels should reflect the diversity of our populations.

Further on, ministers concurred in setting national strategies and policies, including action plans and they agreed to report on their progress at the next ministerial meeting. It was recommended also to work towards defining comparable data and indicators for the social dimension of higher education.
When addressing the social dimension of higher education, ministers agreed to include measures to widen participation and reduce drop-out rates, provide adequate student services and create more flexible learning pathways into and within higher education. Some countries have taken steps towards enhancing equality of opportunities for underrepresented groups in accessing higher education, but very few countries have set specific targets to improve their participation rates. Less has been done to ensure monitoring of the participation of underrepresented groups in higher education.
Source: EURYDICE Higher Education in Europe 2009 - Developments in the Bologna Process

In Leuven/Louvain-La-Neuve, ministers further committed to

set measureable targets to widen participation of underrepresented groups in higher education, to be reached by the end of the next decade.

It was envisaged that the Working Group on the Social Dimension (2009-2012) in close collaboration with the Reporting on the Bologna Process implementation Working Group would oversee the progress made by countries on the social dimension of higher education through establishing comparable data and indicators and collecting examples of good practice regarding the implementation of social dimension policies in higher education at national and regional levels.


This report is prepared by the members of the Social Dimension Working Group and details the work carried out by the Working Group members between 2009 and 2012 on one of the higher education priorities set by the ministers in Leuven/Louvain-la-Neuve for the decade to 2020, namely the social dimension: equitable access and completion.

Report of the BFUG Working Group on the Social Dimension 2009-2012

The WG report concludes with the need to develop a Pilot initiative to promote Peer Learning on the Social Dimension of Higher Education with the aim of assisting the EHEA member countries and higher education institutions in implementing social dimension policies. Taking the lead from both the outcomes of the Bologna Social Dimension Coordination Group (2007-2009) and current internal papers and discussions with the BFUG Working Group on Social Dimension (2009-2012), the proposed pilot initiative will collate and catalogue initiatives and measures which have the objective of reducing barriers to higher education entry and of providing a conducive study environment for all students, which can lead to their successful graduation.

Proposal for a pilot project to promote Peer Learning on the Social Dimension of Higher Education in Europe

Archived content for Bologna Expert
Collection of good practice examples on the implementation of the Social Dimension in higher education

According to its Terms of Reference, the Working Group on Social Dimension 2009-2012 has committed to collect a series of examples of good practice on implementation...

Archived content for Bologna Expert
Online sources on Social Dimension

Online sources selected by the Bologna Working Group on Social Dimension 2009-2012.

Bologna Seminar
Development of the Social dimension

The International Bologna Conference Development of the Social Dimension - Stocktaking and Future Perspectives of Student Services/Student Affairs in the European...