The social dimension of the Bologna process

Deutsches Studentenwerk is involved in the Bologna Process at both the national and international level and highlights the social and economic situation of Bachelor's and Master's students. The social dimension of studying needs to be taken into account by all 47 Bologna states.

The process, which has been running since 1999, also has a social dimension, both national and international. Successful completion of either a Bachelor's or Master's degree does not only depend on study organisation but also on social conditions.

Bachelor's students are dependent on social infrastructure

A separate survey conducted as part of the DSW’s Social Surveys indicates that Bachelor's degree students in Germany are more dependent on social infrastructure than fellow students on "old" degree programmes. They are more likely to live in halls of residence, BAföG (state funding for students) is more important to them, and they eat more regularly in university canteens.

Increase the standard period of study

Bachelor's degree students also have part-time jobs. In order to avoid any conflict between study demands and part-time jobs, we are calling for an increase in the standard period of study for Bachelor's and Master's programmes.

Enabling outgoing mobility

A core aim of the Bologna Process is to increase outgoing mobility. This has not been achieved so far.

The Social Survey shows that one of the biggest obstacles to studying abroad is funding. Moreover, student mobility is still very much dependent on social background. Rigid study regulations mean study periods abroad are increasingly being postponed until Master's programmes.

  • BAföG for study periods abroad should be expanded in a way that covers all students' needs while the possibilities for continuing to receive student finance abroad should be improved generally
  • Students should be able to use BAföG for study periods abroad in all 47 Bologna states in the future.
  • The Erasmus+ mobility programme also needs to be developed to cover all students' needs. Master's degree students should receive a study grant rather than a loan.
  • Study regulations should not only promote a study period abroad, they also need to integrate it into the structure of the study programme without any disadvantage for students, e.g. by necessitating longer periods of study.

The social dimension – concrete steps required

The situation is comparable in all 47 Bologna states. Adopting the Bachelor's and Master's degree format isn’t enough as far as international mobility is concerned. In order to ensure mobility among the approximately 20 million students in the European Higher Education Area, they need solid funding options, affordable accommodation and catering offers close to the campus.

We are calling on education ministers in the Bologna states to take concrete steps to implement the much quoted “Social Dimension of the Bologna process" and to recognise the Studentenwerke and their European equivalents as official partners in the Bologna process.