‘Bologna Ministerial Conference’ recommends the set up of higher education Ombuds within the European Higher Education Area

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.

European Network of Ombuds in Higher Education (ENOHE) is a network originally founded informally in Amsterdam in 2003 and finally set up as an association under Austrian Association Law in 2019. ENOHE connects existing Ombuds offices in almost 30 European and overseas countries already and supports higher education institutions which intend to set up such offices for the continuing improvement of supplying educational services and university governance. ENOHE holds annual conferences and webinars, publishes conference reports and occasional papers and informs about its activities at www.enohe.net.

Rome Ministerial Communiqué
European Higher Education Area (EHEA) 2020 Rome Ministerial Conference