Europeans have tried for decades to find a way to take a mutual stance on issues of higher education and its development. In terms of taking on the challenge of such a mutual commitment with respect to higher education, the Bologna process is a giant step for the European Union. It involves a large number of countries, representing a great variety of higher education systems, which are currently engaged in a process of striving for certain common, converging goals. The question is whether this is also the 'right step' in terms of the actual organisational goals of higher education institutions: teaching students to the best of their abilities, carrying out good-quality research, and serving a constructive societal role. Is the Bologna process as such helpful in achieving these goals, or do we need to acknowledge peripheral forces that are affecting the (Bologna) process to a much higher degree than we bargained for? The purpose of this article is to explore both mainstream and more tangential issues in order to cast a more critical spotlight on the outcomes of the Bologna process and its construction(s). The article attempts to contribute to the Bologna debate, with emphasis on three contradictions, by placing these issues in a broader perspective.