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de la Paz de Dios 1

Professor Leah Leone
Comparative Systems for Translation
14 May 2013
The Bologna Education Plan and American Higher Education Systems:
How the European reform has conditioned the translation of academic
documents between the US and Spain.
In 1999, a desire to create the European Higher Education Area (EHEA)
was formalized in The Bologna Declaration1: a text that was signed by 29
countries2, in which they stated the objectives of change for the EHEA. This
group of countries believed that higher education in Europe was “outdated and
harmful”, and they decided to start a process that would contribute to the growth
and strengthening of the European higher education system. The intention of the
EHEA was to be able to compete with other higher education systems in the
world (EHEA 1), taking the American higher education system as the example to
follow. This Bologna process consisted of the progressive introduction of some
measures (that I will explain further on) so they would cause the least detriment
for universities and students. Before the Plan, every European country had
different education systems, but with the creation of the European Union, the
1 Text of the Bologna Declaration :
2 Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Estonia, Denmark,
France, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Greece, Ireland, Iceland, Latvia,
Italy, Luxembourg, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Malta, Poland, Norway,
Romania, Portugal, Slovenia, the Slovak Republic, Sweden, Spain, the
United Kingdom and Switzerland.

de la Paz de Dios 2

establishment of a common system for education was logic. Today, the Bologna
Group includes 47 countries3 and the process is already well established in most
of them.
However, a big change usually brings debate and controversy, and the
case of the Bologna Declaration has been the topic of many arguments, protests
and complaints. From a linguistic point of view, the Plan is clearly unifying
systems and erasing some of the systemic barriers between member countries
that existed before its inception. Moreover, the Bologna Plan is seeking to
imitate the US system, facilitating the recognition of studies and thus the
mobility between the two higher education systems. In this paper I intend to
analyze the implementation of the Plan in Spain, and whether the approach in
their systems is going to help make the translation of academic documents easier
between the US and Spain.
The Bologna Process was started with the intention of strengthening the
competitiveness and attractiveness of European higher education, as well as to
promote mobility and employability thanks to a common system of degrees and
credits. In the original text of the Bologna Declaration, some concrete and
practical basic objectives were established as the main measures to be

3 In 2001, Croatia, Cyprus, Turkey and Liechtenstein joined the group;
Albania, Andorra, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Vatican, Macedonia, Russia and
Serbia were added in 2003; Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldavia and the
Ukraine in 2005; and Montenegro in 2007.

in the new ECTS system. This would also help student mobility through the recognition of credits between all the member countries. This system was based on two main cycles: undergraduate and graduate. researchers and  administrative staff. Establishment of European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS). etc. Promotion of mobility for students. Declaration). so that a  similar quality is assured in all member countries. In the case of Spain. This implies establishing a similar curriculum in all the member countries. including hours in class. seminars and student’s individual work “de forma que el trabajo desarrollado por un estudiante en cualquiera de las universidades de los estados miembros sea fácilmente reconocible en cuanto a  nivel. 1 credit equals 25/30 weekly hours. calidad y relevancia” (Cazorla 3).de la Paz de Dios 3  Adoption of a system of easily readable and comparable degrees. teachers. creating similar cooperation between institutions. “Promotion of the necessary European dimensions in higher education” (EHEA. giving the same amount of importance to research. in the previous system 1 credit was equal to 10 hours of theoretical lessons taught by a professor. and it would be common to all EHEA countries and help  contribute to student mobility. This was intended to promote citizens’ employability and the  international competitiveness of the European system. . Implementation of comparable criteria and methodologies.

A. researchers and administrative staff in the EHEA. this change only responds to the students’ demand and has nothing to do with the new Plan. Moreover. professors. the degrees that have less than 50 new students a year are being deleted. scientific. it is more a negative than a positive point. engineering. many schedules still do not help students combine work and study. it has not really depended on the Bologna Plan. F. The degrees would be equivalent to degrees in other EHEA countries. The truth is that some new degrees are being established while some others are disappearing. According to the Spanish Ministry of Education (Gobierno de España. The flexibility for a student to work and study depends on the professor’s willingness to give them alternatives to attending class.). and technological fields. The first profit which was likely to benefit all the academic community is the promotion of flexible schedules which allow students to work and study. The focus on the commercialization of the system that Bologna has is clearly seen in this aspect. these benefits are not always being implemented as promised in the la Paz de Dios 4 The Plan in theory presents several benefits that would fit the necessities of students.Q. Other of the aspects that the Plan promotes is a large course offering that will fit all the students’ preferences. However. But the implementation of new degrees and the disappearance of others is causing a major controversy due to the nature of these degrees (the new ones are technological or scientific and the disappearing ones belong to the humanities). This means that the change has not occurred or. . in the humanities. if it has. and as I perceive it. In the practice.

they are unpaid. The equivalence in degrees and ECTS promotes ease of mobility within the EHEA. But. learning. porque hoy Bolonia se ve aún como 47 piezas separadas de un puzzle en vez de una imagen completa” (qtd. in the practice every university and every degree’s committee is in charge of deciding which degrees will need to have a mandatory internship as part of their curriculums. we have the problem of the higher cost of education. However. Plus. there are a few other measures that in my opinion are negative. again. professional internships are la Paz de Dios 5 Moreover. a bigger effort towards the unification of all 47 countries should be made. The similarity in the studies guarantees the recognition and fulfillment of the degrees in whichever foreign country the student may decide to go abroad to. calculated . In the practice. the European Student Association). First of all. Therefore. On the opposite side of the previous positive theoretical measures intended by the Plan. in the degrees where the internships are mandatory. This contributes to students’ growth. and is still in the Bologna Plan. the equivalent curriculums are indeed helping with mobility among member countries. which has to supplement the theoretical character of many degrees. This erases the possibility for a student to look for their own paid internships. and polyvalence. in Aunión 1). increasing their performance and boosting the competitiveness of the education system. “Aún queda mucho camino por recorrer. The cost of public education was. This responds to the practical element that is expected to be introduced and promoted. in the new curriculums. although the work has been done. according to Allan Päll (chairman in ESU.

The price. The new credit system (ECTS) represents the total study load of the student. it can be inferred that the participation of private companies in funding universities will contribute to the improvement of their quality. having necessarily had to reduce the hours that the student attends class. many universities have maintained the same courses with the same number of credits. including the hours attended and the hours spent in the course (with homework. remains the same. now the same course still has 6 ECTS credits. The old (Spanish) credit system only included the hours attended. if a certain course had 6 credits and it had a total of 6 attendance hours per week. However. It is believed to be part of a trick intended to benefit only a few powerful entities: La empresa privada – y en especial los grandes sectores como la banca – ha sido la principal beneficiaria de un banquete al que hasta el momento . in this case. la Paz de Dios 6 depending on the public prices established by the government. The government decides the price per credit. The topic of privatization is seen by some (including the Bologna Plan member countries) as a necessary implementation that needs to be made in order to achieve greatness and quality for the EHEA. but the students attend class only 3 hours a week. and a certain course used to have 6 credits but now has 20. Taking the success of the American system as example. However. but the student loses hours of class that he will have to compensate with individual work at home. That is. the total price is significantly increased. If the price per credit was 2 Euros. privatization has been at the core of the protests against the Bologna Plan. etc). la Paz de Dios 7 tenía el acceso restringido. This is a response to a lower demand and a lack of profitability. (Villalba Jiménez 3) Privatization of the higher education system can take different forms: privatization of the institution itself (hiring of professors. fact which leads to the second side of the problem: if the degree does not have enough students. etc). This is causing a lot of controversy. . and becomes unsustainable by itself. admission. This problem actually originated before Bolgna Plan was established and it was twofold: first of all. Another negative measure is the disappearance of some humanities degrees. it is not profitable to fund it. for example. external agencies are performing the quality tests in universities and the content of undergraduate or graduate courses is chosen in part by representatives of the private funding companies. The Bologna Plan did not start this measure but it is backing it up. the private businesses are being part of a public institution that in Spain had always denied any private help. some of which are being unified into a common and more general degree. or privatization through funding. A large majority of citizens believe that these companies are putting their interests before the universities’ welfare and that this will only harm the higher education system in the long run. Either way. private companies are being part of the decision making process regarding academic issues. Nowadays. se optimizarán las patentes e investigaciones realizadas con dinero público para beneficio de intereses privados y se financiarán sólo aquellos proyectos que resulten de su interés. humanities degrees are becoming less and less popular between students. por ejemplo.

has been the high level of bureaucratization of the process. The second problem. However. The country signed the Declaration of Bologna in 1999 and has progressively been implementing new changes to the Spanish higher education system. etc (García Molina 19). First of all. duration of studies. Thinking of some popular scholarships in la Paz de Dios 8 The transition to the Bologna Plan: The case of Spain Spain was one of the founding members of the Bologna Plan. and the consequences that these changes have had. But looking at the actual changes performed in the studies in Spain. This led to a hasty establishment (after some calls for attention by European Commission) and to the acceptance of confusing or ambiguous information due to the limited debate that had been proposed in the Spanish University communities (Fernández Llébrez 1). there are some core problems that made the introduction of the Bologna Plan in Spain and its subsequent functioning quite difficult. as well. The adoption of the new ECTS system. Spain has gone through particular struggles in order to carry out the Bologna plan and to accept its changes. do credit recognition. evaluation methods. apart from the problems related to the prices increases or the reduction of some attendance hours in order to maintain the same prices of the old system has indeed contributed to the simplicity of student mobility among the member countries. three aspects have taken my attention: credits. until its full establishment in 2010. Spain was very late at starting with the change. To start. which was a direct consequence of the first one. like the Erasmus scholarship. it was very . They have to prepare syllabus. This includes the professors. and specialization.

Higher studies in Spain before the reform followed this structure: Diplomatura (3 years) Master’s Degree (2 years) PHD (5-4 years) Licenciatura (5 or 4 years) And the new system established according to the Bologna Plan guidelines is as follows: (Ministerio de Educación. Regarding the duration of studies. Cultura y Deporte de España) . and related to their specialization. This very often led to the impossibility of equivalence and student disappointment with the thought that they had wasted a year of their lives and a lot of la Paz de Dios 9 common to encounter problems in the recognition of the credits once the student was back in her or his home country. the change has been significant.

A Licenciatura.879 euros. […] La idea central era la de dejar atrás las clases magistrales a muchos alumnos para sustituirlas por una enseñanza más activa para el alumno. más tutorías. First of all. para hacer una equivalencia de 5 años. with a duration of 4 years in Spain (3 years in some other member countries).de la Paz de Dios 10 Even though the difference in duration is not so significant. El precio de los estudios es más caro. El primero [de los obstáculos para la implantación de Bolonia] eran los recortes presupuestarios. En concreto. and probably the main reason for the struggling of the Plan. vemos cómo la diferencia es notable. en una licenciatura (curso 2008-09). but most of them do not include specialization and cover more general knowledge. with specialization included. is the economic crisis that the country is suffering. Si sumamos ambas cifras. or a Diplomatura + a Master’s Degree (or sometimes only a Diplomatura). with very few exceptions. the content of every type of study is. . seminarios o trabajos en grupo. This forces the student to go to Graduate school and get a Master’s degree in order to have enough preparation to go on to the professional world. (Fernández Llébrez 1) There are systematic reasons why the Bologna Plan is not thoroughly succeeding in Spain. These Licenciaturas have now become Grados. Four to five years Licenciaturas meant a thorough preparation for the student. los 60 créditos cuestan 690 euros. This affects the price of higher education and limits it based on the student’s wealth. Mientras que lo estimado para un grado (curso 2009-10) es de 494 a 1.313 euros y en un máster o posgrado es de 832 a 1. were enough to prepare the students to go on to their professional careers.

as Aunión la Paz de Dios 11 lo cual requiere. claro está. Moreover. many of the objectives of the Plan. the deadline for implementing the primary Plan measures in all the member countries. such as promoting the more active role of the student or the professor-student interaction provided by smaller groups. The reason why it is impossible. much has been written. However. “Donde está el gran talón de Aquiles de la Universidad española es en la escasa financiación pública que tiene” (Fernández Llebrez 1)That it. As Fernández Llebrez states. and debated about the Bologna Process. Bologna promotion Since the 1999 Bologna meeting. is that Spain’s government cuts are leading to massive lay-offs of professors. Classes are overcrowded and professors do not have enough time for research and innovation. (Aunión 1) Therefore. the advantage that the equivalence in the credits system or the studies structure brings for mobility is counteracted again by the cuts. said. the protesting voices do not consider external investment as the perfect solution for this problem. as it would give these companies a participation in universities that the academic communities do not desire. overcharging the ones who stay with hours of teaching and reducing their research time to the minimum. . is simply impossible. which are continuing to reduce governmentgranted scholarships. especially after 2010. the opponents to the Bologna Plan trust that a bigger funding from the government would help improve and solve these problems. grupos más reducidos y una buena cantidad de docentes.

puede ser necesario completar los estudios con un máster universitario (máster oficial) o con un doctorado. sometimes it is not. and most of the answers are not definite or do not really answer the question being asked. this answer is not informative enough for the citizen who is reading it. With the purpose of promoting their Process throughout the world. mobility. because the Bologna Declaration presented a lot of good intentions. The original objectives presented by the EHEA did indeed have an attractive look.Q links. these pages and platforms are sometimes too ambiguous. . etc. or Comprende Bolonia (Universia). both the EHEA and the governments of every member country have developed marketing campaigns to make the plan attractive and familiar to citizens. Para otros. and only in a positive way. (Gobierno de España.Q.) We can see how the answer from the Government of Spain basically means: sometimes it is devalued.A.A. with F. Web pages such as the Government of Spain’s Qué es Bolonia.) intend to help citizens become familiarized with the Bologna Plan. tal y como ahora hacen muchos títulos de licenciado y/o diplomado. la Paz de Dios 12 The governments of the member countries have intended to present the Plan as an easy process which would affect the academic community as little as possible. For example : ¿Devaluamos las licenciaturas con el nuevo título de Grado? Los títulos de Grado capacitan al estudiante para empezar a trabajar si lo desea. internships. However. with explanatory videos of every aspect of the Plan (credits.

ha renunciado a todo pensamiento crítico y entiende al docente como un mero operario. sino la financiación pública de las empresas”. One of the members of this platform states: Tras el objetivo de convergencia europea. They argue that Bologna responds to an attempt to commercialize higher education in countries where the history of the educational system had been based on a quality and affordable public system. Ello se traduce en un sistema universitario que camina hacia la privatización. Fernández Liria and Serrano García add. in their book Análisis del Proceso de Bolonia: “Lo que nos están vendiendo con Bolonia no es la financiación privada de la Universidad. Many professors and universities associations believe that the Plan is not as good as it has been made to seem. Democrática y de Calidad. Stop Bolonia”. With this shocking metaphor they are trying to express how the Process’ approach does not take into consideration the particular idiosyncrasy of every country’s educational system to find the appropriate solution or reform for each of them. And they continue: “Bolonia soluciona los males de la Universidad pública como la guillotina se podría decir que cura los dolores de cabeza” (Galindo Lucas).de la Paz de Dios 13 As opposed to all the promotion from the governments. One example of these organizations is the “Plataforma por una Universidad Pública. the Process is using wrong methods that. a movement against the Plan was quick to develop all around Europe. (Villalba Jiménez). On the contrary. se esconde la hegemonía del neoliberalismo sobre el proceso educativo. instead of dealing with . This opposing party is putting all of their efforts together to disclose what for them are the real intentions under the apparently attractive Bologna Plan.

erase the whole issue. therefore worsening the situation. the relationship between them and other countries will grow closer and more profitable. they have decided to. especially when talking about mobility which lasts for more than a semester. The relation and Recognition of credit gained while studying abroad is an important feature for the quality and attractiveness of student mobility. who states: “parece ser el rasgo definitorio de los tiempos futuros. The implementation of the Bologna Plan in Europe is very important for strengthening its competitiveness around the world. The influence of the American system in Bologna is obvious. The lack of critical thought is also criticized by many. because the USA is probably not only the country to imitate (regarding higher education quality) but also the country to refer to with which to seek collaborations. (European Commission) . instead of looking for strategies that will help maintain the less demanded degrees. remove them and fire the professors. For example. If the EHEA countries are known outside of the area and proven to be powerful and competitive higher education destinations. Recognition of credit and of qualifications for access to further studies is also an important matter for EU-US cooperation in the area of education and training. He is worried about the fact that external institutions will be able to have control over the universities. like Villalba Jimé la Paz de Dios 14 the real problems. lo cual puede conllevar pérdida de libertad de cátedra y autonomía política” (Villalba Jiménez 1). in many cases. The US Higher Education System VS the Bologna Plan.

but as advisors and more dynamic figures. not as mere bearers of information. is required in the new EHEA system. there are still differences between both systems that need to be pointed out. helping their knowledge of one or two foreign languages. prepare assignments and final papers. the distribution of the study load is much more similar now between Spain and the US than it was before the Plan. do homework. in the American way. Nevertheless. giving them a broader education and producing better trained professors. Moreover. Through seminars. the student needs to work daily and be prepared for classes. While studying abroad through scholarships is very common among Europeans. teachers are taking an important role in order to have an impact on the student. the student could relax during the whole semester and their work was only required at specific moments (middle and end of semesters). la Paz de Dios 15 This means that easier credit recognition will not only increase mobility but it will help train students in both systems. constant hard work. With the Bologna Plan. the USA still has a long way to go in this matter. Among these things is the approach to teaching or teacher involvement in the learning process. With the Bologna Process. The emphasis on studying abroad is still different. Studies are divided in semesters and the student’s attending hours and homework hours are very similar. Only around 13% of US students go abroad (Institute of International Education) and this shows the small amount of emphasis put on foreign languages in the US system. “American universities are . the European countries are making an attempt to adapt the old European systems to the American higher education system. In the old Spanish plan.

even though the changes that have taken place after the establishment of Bologna Plan are increasing prices in Europe. a Bachelor’s degree is only comprised of specific courses according to the particular degree that the student chooses before accessing the higher education institution. and although the 3-4 year European Bachelor’s degree is not systematically recognized in the US. In Europe. The credit system also differs. All of these systemic changes have implications that go beyond merely educational matters. Students have to take both general courses and major/minor courses (for their specialization). whereas the price in a Spanish university for an undergraduate semester can be around 500 € (UGR). in which the volume of learning measured by the credits includes the actual time in the class or laboratory. Regarding the cost of study. In linguistic la Paz de Dios 16 making attempts to correct this shortcoming by setting semester abroad programs and collaborating with counterparts in Europe via educational consortia” (Gapinski 5). Another important difference is in the curriculum. while the ECTS measures all learning time (in and out of the classroom). the reform has contributed to the closeness and more direct equivalence in terminology between the English and . the difference between both systems is still significant. This difference does not usually present a problem for credit recognition. The US system recalls the old European system. US higher education has a general degree. the credit recognition is increasingly taking place for the sake of both areas’ interests (European Commission 3). The price for an undergraduate semester in a public American university can be around 3000$ (UWM).

That is why I would like to contribute with my own glossary for Spanish. We have to take into consideration the fact that the model to imitate among the European countries regarding the Bologna Process has primarily been the United Kingdom system. which look similar to American terms. Grado). go beyond a linguistic matter and its conceptualization should be first treated within Spain in order to find the best equivalent for its translation. has been helpful to generally diminish the linguistic barrier and facilitate the task of the translation of academic documents. there is still terminology that is used incorrectly or that does not correspond to the real equivalence between systems because these translations are sometimes made literally.English translation of academic documents: .de la Paz de Dios 17 the Spanish language. Other aspects such as the equivalence between Grado and Licenciatura. more standardized among the European countries and more Americanized. although the translation flow between the US and Spain is increasing and has reached its highest peak in the last few years. Plus.g. However. and that the UK system was. The truth is that systemic differences still exist and the reform has been of little help in the linguistic matter. The translators do not have to struggle among such different systems now. without considering the systemic changes between the countries. but which actually refer to different concepts (e.. for example. some new terms have been introduced. a system more similar to the American system than to its other European neighbors. before Bologna Plan. but among the same system in a different language (translating between the UK and Spain) or different (but increasingly similar) systems (translating between the US and Spain). We must then ask whether the new Plan.

de la Paz de Dios 18 SPA-ENG Glossary of preferred terms Administrador: Registrar Aprobado condicional: Conditional Pass Asignatura optativa: Elective course Asignatura obligatoria: Required course Asignatura troncal: Core course Beca: Fellowship Clase teórica: Lecture Crédito ECTS: ECTS (credit) Cuatrimestre: Semester Diplomatura: 3 years Bachelor’s degree Estudios de Grado: Undergraduate Studies Estudios de Posgrado: Graduate Studies Expedir: (To) Issue Doctorado: PhD Especialidad: Major Estudiante de primer curso: Freshman .

Ex: “A GPA of 3 is required” – “Se necesita un GPA (nota media en las universidades estadounidenses. obtenida al dividir la nota media entre el número de créditos de la asignatura en cuestión.) Oyente: Audit .de la Paz de Dios 19 Estudiante de segundo curso: Sophomore Estudiante de tercer curso: Junio Estudiante de cuarto curso: Senior Funcionario: Registrar Falta de asistencia: Absence Grado: Bachelor’s degree Licenciatura: 4/5 years Bachelor’s degree Materia: Course Plan de estudios: Curriculum Posgrado: Master’s degree/ Doctoral Program Prueba de nivel: Placement test Matrícula: Enrollment Nota media: GPA: (Grade Point Average). If it needs further explanation (in translation from English to Spanish). I would add a brief explanation.

Tutor: Advisor . Diploma. Dissertation Titularidad: Tenure Título: la Paz de Dios 20 Profesorado: Faculty Rector: Chancellor Seminario: Seminario Tasa: Fee Tesis: Thesis.

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