An EU-funded project implemented by the Council of Europe.

Strengthening Higher Education Reforms in “Serbia” – what is it about?

This joint EU / CoE project

  • aims to support and accelerate higher education reforms in Serbia, based on the Bologna Process, in order for Serbian universities to be attractive at European and international level;
  • is co-funded by the European Union (90%) and the Council of Europe (10%); 
  • follows the request of the Republic of Serbia of the Ministry of Education ;
  • implemented by the Council of is Europe

Through the project, young people in Serbia will benefit through more efficient and better adapted higher education institutions and ultimately increased recognition of their qualifications abroad. Society as a whole should gain as well through positive models of better managed, democratically governed higher education institutions. 
 

Why this project?  

Higher education has a potential to play a significant role in supporting economic and societal development has the potential to play a Serbia. The reforms need to be based on well developed competences in a broad range of areas. Important changes in higher education are needed to ensure democratic development in both higher education institutions and within Serbian society itself, reforms that would improve the economic and societal well-being of the country. 

On a broader, European level, higher education reforms are essential if Serbia is to carry out the commitments it has undertaken in the Bologna Process, leading to the establishment of the European Higher Education Area by 2010. Accelerating higher education reforms is crucial in order for Serbian universities to find their place at European and international level. 
 

What is the EHEA?

The European Higher Education Area (EHEA) is being developed through international cooperation and academic exchange between ministries, higher education institutions, students and staff from 46 countries, with the participation of international organisations = the Bologna Process!!

"Building on our rich and diverse European cultural heritage, we are developing an EHEA based on institutional autonomy, academic freedom, equal opportunities and democratic principles that will facilitate mobility, increase employability and strengthen Europe’s attractiveness and competitiveness."

London Communiqué, May 2007

Aiming to implement the goals of the Bologna Process, countries are currently setting up:

1. National qualifications frameworks that are compatible with the overarching framework of qualifications for the European Higher Education Area and define learning outcomes for each of the three cycles;

2. Quality assurance in accordance with the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area;

3. Fair Recognition of foreign higher education degrees and qualifications in accordance with the Council of Europe/UNESCO Recognition Convention.

Work is also undertaken in areas of broader societal relevance, such as the links between higher education, research and innovation, equitable participation and lifelong learning.  
 

How does the project contribute to the Bologna Process?

The project aims to assist Serbia in the following key areas:

  • Strengthen the existing Serbian ENIC centre to deal with Recognition of Qualifications issues, support the implementation of the Council of Europe/UNESCO Recognition Convention and subsidiary documents, and assist with the National Action Plan; 
  • Support the implementation of Quality Assurance Standards and Guidelines as proposed by the ENQA;
  • Develop a National Framework of Higher Education Qualifications in line with the overarching framework for qualifications in the EHEA;
  • Review Higher Education legislation and propose amendments.

Therefore, the project is designed to assist in meeting these goals by focusing on four interwoven project components:

 1. Recognition of qualifications and study periods:
Serbia
ratified the Council of Europe/UNESCO Lisbon Recognition Convention (LRC) in 2004. Some of the principles of the LRC are implemented and incorporated into national legislation. However, not all the principles of the LRC have been incorporated. the project will assist a national expert group in developing by-laws and recommendations needed for the implementation of the LRC. Serbia still does not have a formally adopted and implemented National Action Plan for recognition (NAP) and a fully operational ENIC centre (European Network of Information Centres on Academic Recognition and Mobility). While the ENIC exists today, the aim of the project is to increase its competence in recognition matters and its profile within the network. The ENIC should also establish good contacts with all higher education institutions in Serbia.

 2. Quality Assurance and Accreditation:
Within the Bologna Process, Ministers of Education adopted the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area in Bergen in 2005, as proposed by ENQA (European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education), and committed themselves to introducing the proposed model for peer review of quality assurance agencies on a national basis while respecting the commonly accepted guidelines and criteria.
Serbia
has therefore committed itself to setting up quality assurance mechanisms, both to improve the quality of higher education and to foster mobility. This project component aims to support these mechanisms, to introduce good practice as well as accountability in quality assurance and to develop a commitment to making the results of the QA process in Serbia publicly accessible.
This project component goes beyond support to the established QA system in Serbia to promoting QA culture, i.e. in supporting quality improvement that will enable “embedding” a genuine quality culture in higher education institutions.

3. National Qualifications Framework for Higher Education:
Another priority of the Bologna Process is the development of a National Framework for Qualifications (NQF) in higher education. Such a framework should describe the qualifications that make up a higher education system, with an emphasis on what holders of qualifications know, understand and are able to do with a given qualification (learning outcomes). The framework should also describe the way in which the various qualifications of a system interact and the way in which learners can move between qualifications. National frameworks should be elaborated within the overarching framework of qualifications of the European Higher Education Area adopted by Ministers of Education in Bergen in 2005. Such a system should ensure transparency among universities both within Serbia and internationally and promote mobility. Like all countries of the Bologna Process, Serbia has committed itself to elaborating a national framework for qualifications compatible with the overarching framework for qualifications in the EHEA by 2010.
Through this component, the project should assist Serbia in developing a generic (non-subject related) NQF using “ Dublin descriptors” as a benchmark and at the same time to pilot the generic framework on two to three individual qualifications /study programs.

 4. Review of Higher Education Legislation:
A new Law on Higher Education was adopted in August 2005, its implementation started in September the same year. Therefore two years after its implementation, Higher Education Institutions decided that it was time to initiate a review of the Law. The intention of HEIs is not to change the Law considerably but to propose amendments that will improve existing version and contribute to the better implementation. The Conference of Serbian Universities (KONUS) invited all universities and faculties to submit their proposals for amendments, either in terms of changing existing solutions or in terms of further developing certain provisions. The CoE’s offer to provide experts to assist KONUS and National Council for Higher Education when preparing final proposal was accepted with gratitude.

The project ended in December 2009.

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