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ACCESSIBILITY TO HIGHER EDUCATION A Policy Statement from the Medical Students of Europe Bologna Process Follow-up Workshop-Yeditepe YEDITEPE UNIVERSITY 2011, Istanbul-Turkey EMSA/IFMSA* 23rd July 2011

SUMMARY The pace of the chance in the area of higher education increased in the 1990‟s, and this trend has continued with a high speed into the 2000‟s and included the countries outside Europe. All these changes and developments have, once again, underlined the importance of the role of the students‟ organizations in Bologna Process and society.

Student associations are considered to have a critical role in improving EHEA in the Bologna Process. We are developing carefully tailored policies and strategies for the implementation of innovation and creativity take a prominent role in the Bologna Process. There are several factors that shape higher education‟s today and future. And accessibility is one of the these factors. Limitation to education because of financial problems is a big problem for many European countries. This of course has significant effect on higher education and students‟ education. European countries search for new ways to find solutions.We should keep in mind that the Bologna Process is basically a process of collaboration in order to increase the quality, attractiveness and internationalization of higher education. It is impossible to achieve innovative and creative solutions and to build up a sustainable and safe future without collaborating and working with students.

Since 2003, European Medical Students„ Association (EMSA) and International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA) have jointly organised workshops dedicated to the study of the development of the Bologna Process in the European Higher Education Area. The Bologna Process Follow-up Workshop is an annual workshop where medical students from all over Europe discuss the implementation of the Bologna Process in medical education. Together they voice the position of European medical students with the aim to advise the European authorities and medical faculties from the students„ point of view. During these workshops, students develop statements to represent their views and perspectives, and to influence European policymakers and other relevant stakeholders in the process of development and implementation of the Bologna Process.

From 18th-23rd July 2011, the 9th Bologna Process Follow-up Workshop organized by the European Medical Students‟ Association (EMSA) and International Federation of Medical Students‟ Association took place in Yeditepe University, Istanbul. In this workshop, more than 40 medical students‟ representative from 10 countries agreed on an outcome-based “Accessibility to Higher Education”. 1

Accessibility to Higher Education Bologna Process Follow-up Workshop-Yeditepe | Yeditepe University

BACKGROUND The Bologna Process and EHEA in Retrospect Sorbonne Joint Declaration on “Harmonization of the Architecture of the European Higher Education System”, which was signed by the representative of the Germany, France, Italy and United Kingdom in May of 1998, is taken as the start of the Bologna Process. In the declaration, the central role of universities in developing European cultural dimension and promoting mobility and employability is addressed Bologna declaration on June 19, 1999 by the signatures of 29 countries practically started the Bologna Process, whose main aim is to establish the “European Higher Education Area” (EHEA) till 2010. Process has contained 6 action areas: • To establish easy perceptible and comparable system of certificate and degree • To practice two stage system of degree • To perform ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) • To increase mobility • To constitute internal and external quality assurance systems and networks • To develop European dimension in higher education

In 2001 in Prague, 32 countries decided to add 3 more action areas to Bologna Process and to establish Bologna Monitoring Committee: • Encouraging life long learning • Ensuring the active participation of students higher education institutions in the Bologna Process • Making EHEA attractive

In 2003 in Berlin, 10th action plan of “Establishing Synergy between European Research Area(ERA) and EHEA and Doctorate Degree Studies” was added and three priority areas were determined to speed up the Bologna Process: • Two stage degree structure in Higher Education • Approval of higher education certificate and degrees and education duration • Quality assurance 2

In May of 2005, the Ministers of Education from 45 different countries met in the city of Bergen in Norway. In this meeting, the determination, implementation of and monitoring of quality standards along with the implementation of qualifications framework were the main issues for discussion. In this meeting, “Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area” were adopted. In the following conference in London in May of 2007, two prior areas were also added to the areas defined in Bergen Conference: • Life long learning • Establishment and approval of common degrees

INTRODUCTION Bologna Declaration suggests that students should have access to higher education in an easy way without obstacles, as the access is the right of every single qualified candidate to apply and to be considered for admission. It is also claimed that higher education should play a strong role in fostering social cohesion, reducing inequalities and raising the level if knowledge, skills and competences(1). Over years, higher education has become widespread, but it does not exactly mean that higher education is provided equally to all socio-economical classes. This situation brings inequality to socioeconomically disadvantaged groups, which includes people that face special problems such as physical and mental disability, lack financial support or are politically deemed to be without sufficient power(2). We are concerned with these socioeconomically disadvantaged groups, specifically that lack financial support. As, the social dimension of the envisaged European Higher Education Area (3) aims at, equality of opportunities in higher education, in terms of access, participation and successful completion of studies; studying and living conditions; guidance and

Accessibility to Higher Education Bologna Process Follow-up Workshop-Yeditepe | Yeditepe University

counselling; financial support and student participation in higher education governance; these all should be given utmost importance. The modern systems in medical education have been created for a successful, effective and efficient progression and completion of the studies. The limited places in the 2nd and 3rd cycle cause this system to get a leakage which in addition to the future applicants will cause a worsening of the situation. An increasing number of non-functional 1st cycle graduates may lead to a waste of public resources. The governments should play a key role in accessibility and funding of medical education(4), which is henceforth discussed.


I. ACCESSIBILITY TO FIRST CYCLE As the European society is passing through a global financial crisis higher education can be one of the saving tools for the well-being of the community. Increasing the public funding in higher education is considered to be an investment in the future which can lead to an improvement in both health care and financial well-being. Thus, higher education must be accessible for all who are qualified regardless of their demographic and personal characteristics(5). In order to start, progress and complete medical education financial concerns are one of the major problems. Students who are from socio-economically disadvantaged and vulnerable parts of society cannot afford the expenses which can lead to less interest in studying medicine. We call the governments to make sure that universities have the necessary resources to fulfil their very own task in medical higher education. Consequently students do not have to pay for their


education as tuition fees were abolished in Hungary and Ireland(2). If this is not possible, student from disadvantaged groups will be granted an exemption from the fees. But we also believe that the faculties as well as the government should offer other possible ways of financing like scholarships or loans yet the government should carry the final responsibility to assure that the university has relevant cooperation with private-sector-funding and donations(2,5,6). Any way of financing should cover all the costs both for learning and living(2). We believe that higher education is important for the best benefit of the community. That is why we consider being a student should be enough for being eligible to receive a loan. It is known that students are forced to work in order to compensate the lack of financial resources. Hence students have less time to prepare for exams and failure is more likely which can lead to delays. Any delay may cause an increase in costs students have to deal with. Thus students have to concentrate on finishing the study in time which possibly limits the interest in extracurricular activities and personal development. On the other hand this will stimulate a shift to exam-focused extrinsic motivation instead of naturally medical interest. Students who face life related problems such as physical and mental disabilities or who have to deal with special social issues like being single parent should be approached differently, for a delay is more likely. Social support should be provided to this group and when possible schedules can be adjusted individually.

II. ACCESSIBILITY TO FURTHER CYCLES In some countries i.e. in the Netherlands students experience difficulties to proceed fluently into the next cycles due to lack of places. As first cycle currently is not a job-defining degree it causes the intervening time to become unproductive. It should be assured that there are enough places for all students finishing first cycle to get into second cycle.

Accessibility to Higher Education Bologna Process Follow-up Workshop-Yeditepe | Yeditepe University

It is highly demanded that the first cycle degree is a basic job-defining degree(6). Especially those students who have to wait for entering further cycles due to unmanageable number of applicants will have a greater benefit. Hereby the intervening time can become more productive.

All dimensions of accessibility should be dynamically evaluated by a committee composed of members of government, faculties, student bodies and relevant stakeholders.

REFERENCES  EUROPEAN MEDICAL STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION (EMSA) INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF MEDICAL STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION (IFMSA) (1) London Communiqué 2007 ( hogeronderwijs/bologna/documents/MDC/London_Communique 18May2007.pdf) (2) Bologna with student eyes 2009 ( publications/official_publications/BWSE2009-final.pdf) (3) Berlin Communiqué 2003 ( Communique_dt.pdf) (4) Albufeira Resolution on Medical Students‟ Rights in Europe (http:// EN.pdf) (5) UNESCO – The role of student affairs and services in higher education ( (6) Leuven/Louvain-la-Neuve Communiqué 2009 (http://www.ond. leuven_louvain-la-neuve_communiqu%C3%A9_april_2009.pdf)


Accessibility to Higher Education Bologna Process Follow-up Workshop-Yeditepe | Yeditepe University

Accessibility to higher education