Structures, water, computers, languages and people (not necessarily in this order)

Bologna accord in engineering

EU countries are in the transition phase of implementing the common educational framework of the Bologna process. In France, Italy, Portugal and Spain a five-year degree in engineering is the stardard. If I had stopped after the forth year, I would not have got any degree. After the process, all programmes will be divided into Anglo-Saxon scheme, bachelor (3-4 years) and master degrees (1-2 years), where our Continental integrated degree was the only one.

What if you plan to do an MSc in the US?. Nowadays there is no resistance to recognise five-year degrees at American graduate schools but the acceptance of the new European undergraduates is not ensured. This is a contradiction because the aim of Bologna accord was to americanise the European universities. In fact, it is funny to read in the blog of the Curious Cat that Yossi Sheffi, Professor of Engineering at MIT, proposed a five-year model to "learn how a subject fits into the grand scheme of things". Are we moving opposite?

Is this reform going to make us -the Southern European engineers- more skilled and competitive? I admit to be a bit reluctant.


  1. This is an interesting topic, so I will go ahead and monopolize the comments' section once again. I think that the idea of unifying the degrees across Europe is definitely a sensible one, while the specifics of which model to choose are certainly arguable. However, in any case, I don't think that the new 4+2 years system will in practice make a big difference with respect to the current one. Probably, most Spanish future civil engineering students will end up doing bachelor's and master's, spending a similar amount of time in the degree as now. The master's will be equivalent to, for example, the current last two years of specialization in Madrid Technical University. On the other hand, most philologists will just do a bachelor's, which will be equivalent to their current 4 year degree. My impression, from my knowledge of the Spanish educative system, is that while regulations change often and easily, the education itself changes much more slowly. Think of how many different laws for primary and secondary education we have had over the past 20 years.

  2. We all agree that mutual recognition of engineering degrees among EU countries should be enforced. However recognition does not require homogeneous degrees. Different engineering degrees (with different durations) should be offered by universities provided that the needs are different depending on the European regions.

    A very specialised BEng+MSc engineer could be very valuable in a capital city but a general integrated degree is better if you work in places that are not fully developed and you need to perform a wide variety of tasks.

    I cannot be optimistic. In Italy, Portugal and Spain, the Bologna reform is going to be another useless change. The structure of the degrees does not constitute any major problem but the old fashioned methods (the Technical University of Madrid is a fine example of such an old methodology). These will remain because the professors will be exactly the same narrow minded people now and then.