Higher education in Armenia is currently facing the pressure of reforms as well as tremendous opportunities for development. Armenia joined the Bologna Process in 2005 in Bergen. Since then, the main foci of the Government of Armenia (GoA), the Ministry of Education and Science (MoES), and the Higher Education Institutions (HEI) are introduction of a two-cycle degree system, a credit transfer and accumulation system, and a Diploma Supplement system; strengthening of Doctoral Programmes as a bridge between higher education and research area; and creation of a recognition body and national quality assurance agency.
Adoption of a system of easily readable and comparable degrees
In May 2005, the Armenian ENIC/NARIC was established by government decree to develop an equitable recognition system of qualifications for use both at the national and organizational level. After studying the European system, the Armenian version of the Diploma Supplement was developed. Presently, it is under discussion in the MoES as well as in HEIs. According to the timetable approved by the GoA, the DS will be officially issued by the HEIs starting from 2007.
System based on two main cycles
A system based on two cycles, bachelors/masters, was introduced by the Law on Higher and Postgraduate Education (2004) and by a government decree (2004) that all state universities present programmes as bachelors and masters degrees. It is planned that by 2010 all universities, including private institutions, will base programs on two cycles.
Establishment of a system of credits
In December 2005, there was a special decree of the government: On the Introduction of Credit System. As directed in Decree Six, state universities started implementation of the credit system stage by stage. The following has been accomplished thus far: the State Engineering University has a four year experience in their Master's Programme; Yerevan Linguistic University, as a pilot project, has introduced the credit system in one educational programme both for the bachelors and masters degrees; the other three universities are reviewing their academic programs according to a credit system. All six universities jointly developed recommendations on implementation of the credit system.
Simultaneously, the Ministry of Education and Science has appointed a working group that will develop ECTS on the national level, prepare guidelines on how to implement the ECTS, and organise training for university ECTS coordinators. The ECTS guide has been translated and presently is being published.
In the second half of December, the Ministry of Education and Science is organising a conference on ECTS. All six universities will make presentations on their achieved results and develop recommendations on how to organise learning with the credit system.
Promotion of mobility
The mobility among the students and staff is not high as there are legal and programmatic barriers that hinder the process. The existing academic programmes strongly regulate the transfer of students from one profession to another by a special government decree which sets certain limitations. The effects of the implementation of ECTS and DS to promote the mobility of the transfer of students to foreign universities based on bilateral agreements is limited, and not all of the European mechanisms (ERASMUS) promoting the international mobility of students function in Armenia.
The MoES encourages cooperation directly between HEIs. According to the statistics, about 10% of university professional staff and students are involved in various mobility programmes each year.
Promotion of European cooperation in quality assurance
According to the Law on Higher and Postgraduate Education, a special unit of the MoES conducts licensing and accreditation of private HEIs. A working group was formed by the MoES that will develop a national quality assurance system according to the European recommendations. It is planned to create an independent quality assurance agency.
The universities themselves are aware of the importance of creating internal mechanisms for quality assurance and institutional improvement. They are becoming increasingly introspective and analytical about their strengths and weaknesses and the need to develop a culture of constant improvement through periodic evaluation.
Promotion of European dimensions in higher education
New research centers were created in several universities. The staffs of the centres are also involved in the teaching process. Graduate programmes such as art studies, theology, social work, and humanitarian professions are newly opened and expanded
Life Long Learning
Some elements of life long learning as defined by the Law on Higher and Postgraduate Education of Armenia are available as supplementary postgraduate programmes based on earned professional education and do not lead to a formal credential. The purposes of these programmes are to improve qualifications and to bring skills up to date. Internal corporate training with a similar purpose is also organized. Additionally, there are several non-governmental organizations for adult learning. The development of distance learning and e-learning with the introduction of ECTS at the universities will largely promote learning opportunities for all ages, including continuing education, correspondence courses, and recreational activities.
Participation of students and higher education institutions in the Bologna Process
The Ministry has supported the initiative of student unions to create a national student union that will apply for membership to ESIB. The students are actively represented in university governance. Groups were formed in all universities to encourage the Bologna process within each institution. Several universities are members of EUA.
Doctoral studies as the 3rd Bologna cycle
Doctoral studies are defined by the Law on Higher and Postgraduate Education as the 3rd Bologna cycle. It is intended to increase academic programmes and duration of studies to make them comparable with the 3rd Bologna cycle.
Bucharest Communique (2012)
Budapest - Vienna Declaration (2010)
Leuven and Louvain-la-Neuve Communiques (2009)
London Communique (2007)
Bergen Communique (2005)
Berlin Communique (2003)
Prague Communique (2001)
Bologna Declaration (1999)
Sorbonne Declaration (1997)