The overarching aim of the Bologna Process is to create a European Higher Education Area (EHEA) based on international cooperation and academic exchange that is attractive to European students and staff as well as to students and staff from other parts of the world.

The envisaged European Higher Education Area will facilitate mobility of students, graduates and higher education staff; prepare students for their future careers and for life as active citizens in democratic societies, and support their personal development; and offer broad access to high-quality higher education, based on democratic principles and academic freedom.

The Bologna Process is named after the Bologna Declaration, which was signed in the Italian city of Bologna on 19 June 1999 by ministers in charge of higher education from 29 European countries. Today, the Process unites 48 countries – all party to the European Cultural Convention and committed to the goals of the European Higher Education Area. An important characteristic of the Bologna Process is that it also involves European Commission, Council of Europe and UNESCO-CEPES, as well as representatives of higher education institutions, students, staff, employers and quality assurance agencies.

The Bologna Process is taken forward through a work programme that receives orientations from biannual ministerial conferences Prague 2001, Berlin 2003, Bergen 2005, London 2007, Leuven 2009, and Budapest and Vienna 2010 . These conferences are prepared by a Bologna Follow-up Group, which is in turn supported by a Bologna Secretariat.