A (R)evolution in higher education: Moves on the bachelor degrees

Posted on 27/06/2011


A (R)evolution in higher education: Moves on the bachelor degrees

Rcently, several intesting movements have occurred around Bachelor degrees. Ohio State universities were told to develop 3-years bachelor degrees (http://www.npr.org/2011/04/19/135545481/ohio-universities-told-to-develop-3-year-degrees). This follows the movement of other universities and private colleges (http://chronicle.com/article/We-Designed-a-3-Year-Degree/126900/).  Recently, an editorial in the Washington Post is also positive on this idea: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/colleges-need-to-get-moving-on-the-three-year-degree/2011/07/06/gIQA9uuJ1H_story.html . A 3-years Bachelor is the model followed in Europe under what is called the Bologna process of harmonization of degrees inside Europe: 3 years for a Bachelor, 5 years for a Master and 8 for a Doctorate. This framework is also adopted by several other countries outside of Europe.

Meanwhile, in France, Valerie Pecresse, the Minister for Higher Education, announced a revamping of the French Bachelor with more teaching hours and more exposure to companies through longer internships.

In both cases (Ohio and France), the idea is that a good bachelor IN 3 YEARS, should be more than enough to find a decent job and be useful to companies and to the community. No need to take 4 years and no need to go for a Master as it is the case for lots of students in Europe, under the pressure of the companies recruiting them. Because of the competition between students in a tight job market, they choose to go for a 5 years Master, not really for the extra learning but to differentiate themselves from the other job seekers.

As a consequence, as Europe is the first destination for international students (and France inside being the 4th worldwide), it implies that more and more students from outside Europe may also go back satisfied with a useful bachelor and spread the word in their home countries.

Maybe these different movements in the US and in Europe will lead to a renewing interest for well designed 3 years studies, even if some conservative scholars are against it (http://chronicle.com/article/Leader-of-Liberal-Education/65760/).