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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps she plans to take to reconcile (a) the two year accelerated degrees proposed in the 2003 Higher Education White Paper and (b) the five and six year medicine and dentistry courses with the three cycle degree system proposed in the Bologna process.
The Bologna process is about responding to the challenge of globalisation and improving the competitiveness of European higher education. While it seeks to improve the compatibility and comparability of European higher education systems, it is not about harmonisation.
Work on the feasibility of two year accelerated degrees in England is being taken forward through a series of pilot exercises in a number of individual higher education institutions (HEIs). Before we take any decision about enabling HEIs to offer accelerated degrees more widely, we will need to be satisfied that the learning outcomes from such courses are equivalent in terms of the knowledge, competences and skills acquired by students to those of a more traditional course.
Medicine and dentistry courses prepare students not only in the theory of their subject but also give them a range of practical experience leading ultimately to a licence to practise. The arrangements in other European countries are similar. The implications of the Bologna process for medical and dental qualifications also need to be considered alongside EU directives on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications within EU countries. The higher education sector is currently considering, with expert stakeholders from both the medical and dental fields, whether any further action is needed to align these courses more closely to the Bologna principles.