gms | German Medical Science

The structure of Medical Education in Europe: Implementing Bologna – On the way to a European success story?
International Conference hosted by the German Rectors' Conference (HRK)

10 - 11 October 2008, Berlin

The Structure of Medical Curricula in Europe: Implementing Bologna - On the way to a European success story? - Poster Exhibition Panel - Work in Progress: The state-of-the-art in reforming medical education curricula in the common European Higher Education Area


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  • corresponding author presenting/speaker Jerome Rotgans - German Association für Medical Education, Chair Committee 'Accreditation and Cerfification', Aachen, Germany

The Structure of Medical Education in Europe: Implementing Bologna – On the way to a European success story?. International Conference hosted by the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK). Berlin, 10.-11.10.2008. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2011. Doc08hrk3

doi: 10.3205/08hrk03, urn:nbn:de:0183-08hrk033

Published: January 13, 2011

© 2011 Rotgans.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Aim of the international conference was to investigate in how far medical curricula in Germany and the other European countries align themselves with the Bologna Recommendations. Particularly to experience whether and if so how such curricula already have been implemented. Beyond the programme with invited speakers, a call was launched for poster contributions to assure as much as possible input. As a special aspect in this call, the focus was strictly directed to content. For this purpose, a poster template was designed in which prescribed fields guided the authors to put their content in. As its result – thanks the discipline of the authors and the production of the posters by the conference organization itself at a central site – all posters showed an identical ‘make-up’.

Twenty-eight posters represented 15 countries with one to six contributions each. The distribution of the posters over the country of origin of the author(s) and their relationship to the nationality of the 250 congress participants shows figure 1 [Fig. 1]. Table 1 [Tab. 1] shows the poster contributions as overview.

For being able to evaluate whether the posters responded to the aims of the conference – i.e. how far ‘Work in Progress’ was documented – each congress participant received three little stickers with the task to place only one sticker on each poster’s upper-right sticker-box if in their eyes the content of the poster involved was their favourite. The result of this ‘evaluation’ presents the first column of the table. To the first three favourites belonged a contribution from respectively the United Kingdom (Edinburgh), The Netherlands (Groningen), and Germany (Aachen).

Knowing that the Bologna Process intends not only the implementation of a three-cycle system of under- and postgraduate qualifications but also the realization of three main and 10 secondary aims all poster contents have been searched through in how far these aims have been regarded. Main aims are promotion of international mobility, international competitiveness, and international employability. Secondary aims are among others:

Adoption of a system of easily readable and comparable degrees,
Adoption of a 2-cycle system,
Adoption of a uniform credit system (ECTS),
Promotion of mobility by elimination of mobility obstructions,
Promotion of cooperation in quality assurance,
Promotion of the European dimension in higher education,
Life-long and life-accompanying learning,
Student's participation (in all decisions and initiatives at all levels),
Promotion of attraction of the European higher education area,
Interlinking the European higher education area with the European research area, particularly by implementation of the doctorate phase.

The result of the search shows at first glance a very diverse picture. However, this rapidly changes if the contributions are divided according to the criterion, whether secondary aim number 2 ‘adoption of a 2-cycle system’ have been realized or its implementation will be strived for: 12 posters (43%) concern contributions that do not take care of this aspect. They concern but in very diverse composition occupation-political and education-political statements, mobility, quality assurance etc. It is interesting to conclude that no poster is able to report on a Bologna-conform curriculum ‘in action’. ‘Bologna-conform’ means per definitionem (refer, for example, to the application form of Tempus Joint Projects, control-rubric ‘Bologna' a successful completion of an undergraduate, employment-enabling curriculum by Bachelor honours, as well as the completion of any postgraduate curriculum with a Master- or Doctorate predicate (PhD).

Only two posters (7%), from nursing sciences (Osijek/Croatia) and oral medicine/dentistry (Aachen/Germany), report about concepts, which correspond to this default unambiguously.

From the remaining 14 posters (50%) one location (Graz/Austria) must renounce the implementation of a Bologna-conform curriculum for legal reasons explicitly. The other 13 posters show their clear will to implement whatever conditioned Bologna-conform curriculum but also their wrong understanding about the level of qualification of an undergraduate study.

A typical example is the implemented, so-called consecutive curriculum in Groningen (The Netherlands) which on its half time offers Bachelor honours, after ‘streaming through’ Master honours. Particular remarkable, as representative of some more posters, is the contribution from Edinburgh (United Kingdom): It represents a traditional curriculum with BMBS honours after 5 years but proposes for the future a consecutive 2 x 3 years Bachelor/Master-curriculum to reach (a misunderstood) Bologna conformity.

In summary: Stimulation of international mobility – as one of the three main aims of the Bologna Process – is under limited awareness of the universities represented by the posters.

Only the contribution from Aachen (Germany) regards the conditions of international competitiveness and international employability (after 3-4 years). About the secondary aims, point of unambiguous effort is the design of an easy to understand curriculum with consideration of the European Credit Transfer System for almost half of the contributions, just as implementation of the promotion-/doctorate-phase. However, the lack of understanding about how to be aware of a three-cycle life-long learning oriented system of qualifications is evident. Here communication is essential.


All Abstracts or Extended Abstracts of the posters are presented in this issue in the order as listed in table 1 [Tab. 1]. All posters as all verbal presentations are available via