The Bologna Process in Israel: Perceptions and Reactions

The Bologna model has generated interest in Israel among policy-makers and politicians, leading to official requests for full membership to the Process in 2007 and 2008. While Israel’s requests were ultimately denied, it was granted observer status.  Israel’s affiliation to the Bologna Process (BP) is an interesting case because of its special relationship with Europe, which varies on a scale between strong economic, trade, and research relations, and complicated political relations. As this project will show, the Bologna path in Israel is telling for a wider understanding of the EU-Israel relationship, shedding light on how higher education (HE) permeates international relations.

This study examines how European HE policy developments in recent decades (specifically the BP) were perceived and discussed in Israel, and how they intersect with EU-Israel relations more broadly. To this end, the empirical analysis is based on twenty open interviews with policy-makers from relevant governmental and national authorities in Israel and the EU, as well as representatives of Israeli HE institutions, and institutional policy-makers. The research is also based on official documents and reports from Israeli national policy and political discussions. Both sources were analysed using qualitative content analysis, to form a contemporary historical analysis and describe the trajectory of the BP in Israel. Prior to outlining this trajectory, and the perceptions towards it – the following section sets the context of the BP, its Global Strategy and EU-Israel relations.