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The Bologna declaration was signed in 1999 by 29 European ministers responsible for higher education. Today, 46 signatory countries are engaged in the process towards a European Higher Education Area (EHEA). The Bologna Process is an intergovernmental initiative which also involves the European Commission, the Council of Europe and UNESCO-CEPES, as well as representatives of higher education institutions, students, staff, employers and quality assurance agencies. It aims to create a European Higher Education Area by 2010, and to promote the European system of higher education worldwide. More information on the Bologna process is available on http://ec.europa.eu/education/higher-education/doc1290_en.htm.
Many indicators on social dimension and mobility in the Bologna process come from the UOE data collection in the education statistics domain. The completion rate (educ_bo_ou_comp) was computed in the framework of the UOE data collection (jointly carried out by Unesco, OECD and Eurostat), but is usually disseminated by OECD only.
The methodology for estimating completion rates varies across countries. They can use three methods: the cross-section method, the true cohort method, or the synthetic cohort method (see section 11.1 below for more details).
The year of reference gives the reference year for the number of graduates. The estimation assumes constant student flows at the tertiary level, owing to the need for consistency between the graduate cohort in the reference year and the entrant cohort n years before. This assumption may be an oversimplification. Results are less reliable in systems in which enrolments fluctuate markedly, or students are faced with many different options as regards the length of courses for which they may enrol or in which there are many changes in programmes between the years of admission and graduation respectively. The inclusion of foreign students in the new entrant questionnaire can have an impact on the completion rates indicator. In some countries, the proportion of foreign students represents a large part of tertiary population, and all of them are considered as new entrants in tertiary education (as advised in UOE Guidelines) whereas most of them won't be graduated at this level of education. The consequence is to underestimate the completion rates in those countries with relatively large proportions of foreign students enrolled in tertiary education.