Prof. Aleksandar Nikolovski, Ph. D. Prof. Gjorgji Tonovski, Ph. D. Associate Prof. Mirko Tripunoski, Ph. D.
The higher education and the term university were used before the year 1500 and they originate from the European Continent. The higher education began on European soil, starting with the University in Bologna and the St. Clement’s University in Ohrid. The topic of this comparative elaboration is to see how the education was developed on the old compared with the new Continent and the place of the Republic of Macedonia.
The brief chronology gives us a good picture about the fact that the education is as old as mankind. The short analysis through historical educational schemes is determined and defined via three educational strategies separated from one another with an accelerated step of the social volume and with the expansion of the geographical range. In this context, it is essential to take into consideration that our chronology neither needs a linear definition of the education, nor does it support the conventional way of interpretation of the Euro-Central education perspective in the world’s global education history. The aim of our analysis is not to determine the ideas for inevitability and irretrievability of the educational strategies, but to mark the educational achievements and social leaps in the history of education that determine the intensity and global range of these processes towards new achievements.
DIFFERENCE IN EDUCATIONAL SYSTEMS
The main strategy of this work is the different approach, elaboration, and development of the higher education. Europe has been long fostering the conservative and traditional approach in the education, the rigid system and strict respect for the set structure. The North American Continent made its beginning following the European model, but in time a model was created that is strictly systematic, practical, and also flexible and open to new methods and insusceptible to experimenting. On the base of its consistency, the present model of the American education has been created, which has a unique, but also an efficient model that has long survived as an educational strategy that represents a model to which the European educational institutions aspire with the determinations designed in the Bologna Declaration as the cornerstone of the educational architecture for an operational and flexible European university education.
Architecture of University Education
In the classical example, America does not have a Ministry of Education as the European countries do for the development of the university education. This is the biggest difference. The United States has a de-centralized education that is managed via associations that approve accreditations to university education institutions according to the good quality defined rules, partnership, and continual mutual relations with the institutions involved in higher education. The United States and its Federal Government do not have any roles in issuing or recognizing diplomas, credits, and so on. The Federal Government appoints two institutions on the level of the United States, like: Council on Higher Education (CHEA) and the Education Sector in the U. S. State Department, which monitor the work and activities of the institutions for accreditation. The institutions for accreditation are of a regional, national, and professional character and they give accreditation to high educational institutions in the United States.
Continual Promotion of Evaluations for Quality with Accreditation
The basic difference of the U. S. system of education is in the accreditation of the institutions, which is on a voluntary basis, not pre-conditioned by law, and performed on a voluntary basis, but it represents the basic prerequisite for obtaining a working permit. The accreditation is a picture of the quality of a certain institution where the interest of the public is a reflection of the institution itself. The accreditation has two fundamental goals: to evaluate the quality – to see if the institution meets the set quality criteria and help the institution improve the quality continuously. So, institutions with accreditation are listed among institutions with quality that accomplish defined and determined scale of norms and observe specific procedures. The acquiring of accreditation for an institution implies three phases applied by all the accreditation associations, like:
(1) Preparation of critical self-evaluation, which is self-evaluation and evaluation of its goals, activities, and achievements;
(2) Visit to the institution by a team of experts who give their evaluation, see the defects, and give proposals for improvement;
(3) Subsidiary revision and decision of the central commission or committee.
The 1988 Lisbon Convention defines the view on the establishment of a body that will evaluate the quality of the higher educational institutions in Europe.
Organization of Higher Education
The higher education of the U.S. 1 system is organized in such a way that the graduate studies last for four years, postgraduate for one year, and doctoral from three to five years. Students are enrolled at an age of 17 and with a secondary school diploma no matter whether the secondary education had lasted for three or four years.
According to the Bologna Declaration, the European system2 is organized in two phases: in the first phase there are the graduate and postgraduate studies (3+2), and the second are the doctoral studies that last from 3-5 years depending on the previous education. The higher education can be followed only by a candidate who has finished 4 years of secondary education.
College and University, oriented education3 in the United States is nearly equal in the terminology in spite of the existing definition for a college and for a university. The college in Europe is on the level of a secondary school (not English speaking region).
The universities in the United States differ in their structure from the European. The highest body is the Creditors’ Committee that is managing the entire property of the university, raising the annual budget, defining the general policy for the operation and control of the university. The Creditors’ Committee appoints the President (Chancellor) who is directly responsible to the Committee and whose duty is to manage fully the university with all its departments and to administer the business activities. The President nominates a pro-rector (deputy vice-Chancellor) who is responsible for the academic part of the university and all the services supporting the academic part (students’ issues office, libraries, and so on), as a subsidiary academic equipment.
The difference between the U.S. and the European system is that the European system has a President (Chancellor) who manages the university and three vice presidents (deputy vice-chancellors) for teaching, research, finances, and administration, who design and require the accomplishment of the teaching structure of the university.
The next difference between the European and the American system of education is that beside the high education in America and a part of the higher education there is a narrow professional education that can last from 1 to 3 years with diplomas differing in narrow specialization, known as vocational education or professional degree education. This type of education makes only possible the transfer to regular graduate studies, but it is not possible to continue with postgraduate studies immediately. Contrary to this, in Europe there are two types of so-called high education or studies depending on the practical education, which are: ISCED 5A Program, which is academically and theoretically based and which allows the candidate to go on with doctoral studies and the ICSED 5B Program which is practically – professionally oriented and after which the candidate cannot continue with the doctoral studies and can be directly involved in work instead. The two systems also differ in the diplomas that they issue, as well as in the implementation of the programs.
The mobility of the students at the American universities is unobstructed due to the credit application for every subject, which is the brand of the American education dating from the last century, as well as the harmonization of the programs with the reforms from the 80s. With the Bologna Declaration (1998), Europe inserts the ECTS as an education system that makes possible an easier mobility of the students in the frameworks of Europe and at large.
PRIVATE AND STATE UNIVERSITIES – BASE FOR INDEPENDENCE
AND STANDARDS SHIFT
Three types of institutions are differing in the United States only in the form of organization and financing, which are as follows: private, state, and universities that are operating like corporations, or share holding associations. They are all autonomous as regards the decision making process, but depending on their own determination and administration. Namely, the private universities are the most independent and they are managed by a Committee composed of people selected by the financier. With the state universities, a Committee composed of representatives of the state sector is in the management, while the institutional corporations are managed by a Committee composed of representatives of every institution member of the corporation or the share holders.
There is no such system in Europe. In Europe, the number of private universities is small. This is another problem of the European universities – the financing source. Namely, in Britain the state finances the universities and thus they are under its control. In the last 30 years, they have been the “regional offices of the Government ministry”. They are also burdened by a lot of bureaucracy due to which the quality is dropping. Regarding the dropping of the quality, there is also the decision of the British Government by which universities for the poor are opened, which requires changing the enrollment conditions or making them simpler. The result of all this is a larger number of students. However, more does not necessarily mean better. In this way the significance of the university diploma is dropping and it is simplified or the qualifications for obtaining diploma are decreasing and thus the number of issued diplomas is significantly rising. Another interesting moment that is characteristic for the British Government is when it allowed in 1992 the local institutions offering narrow specialized professional superstructures to be equalized and re-named with the term universities. In this way the vital foundations of the higher education are torn down and its value of an educational superstructure is lost. Another factor that degrades the higher education in Europe is the sum of the scholarships defined by the state. There are essential problems with a direct impact on the quality of the tertiary education in other EU countries as well. The number of students does not allow them to have a direct supervision of the tutors, which is reflected on the preparations for the teachings. However, Oxford and Cambridge are an exception, because the preparations there are kept as a characteristic. The students are under constant supervision of the professors and they have a permanent interactive educational strategy, unlike the other universities in England.
Germany, on the other hand, has another problem. The professors enjoy the status of distinctive state officials in working conditions that do not coincide with the needs in the education. In the last few years there has appeared the so-called Block-Seminar where the professors pass by the universities for a short time and the entire semester material is handed in during a week-end after which they go back to their race for private education. Corruption is also present in the European universities with the effect of diplomas without values, enrollment of a large number of students, without a lot of expenses or labor. So, students with an exceptional desire for higher education find their own ways in attracting the attention of the professor in order to get scholarships for researches and for post-graduate studies and thus have a realistic possibility for doing something.
There are good points in the European education or every country has something to be proud of. In this direction the first are the German post-graduate studies in the field of engineering, the French Higher Schools, the universities in Finland and Holland are particularly concentrated on maintaining and increasing the quality and decreasing bureaucracy and some other educational defects.
The European academic institutions are constantly turned towards the American system of higher education, and they are even envious of its organization and good quality. Since this system manages to administer the quantity and quality, 60% of the high-school graduates in the United States enroll some higher education. Out of the 50 best universities, only 15 are not American (EU research). In Europe, only Oxford and Cambridge are listed among the first 10, while the rest are under the 40th place on the ranking list of the educational institutions in the world. However, the American system is not without defects. The variety that makes the system dynamic also makes it vulnerable and apt to abuse.
The size and the success of the American system are confirmed in many researches and studies that indicate a few key factors that make this kind of education
diverse, functional as a system, with rough competition and strict selection of students.
Achievements and Possibilities of Educational Institutions
The way they are established, the U.S. universities have reserves of talents and financial resources because of which they are in the lead as regards the newly developing powerful academic institutions in the world. The established partnership and flexibility focus them constantly on everything that is innovative in the education and enable them react effectively and efficiently. They have a proven model of quality and success that they have been applying since the early 80s. Nevertheless, the annals of the history of American high and higher education mark shocking results concerning the level of knowledge among the high and higher schools graduates. The main failure is the insufficiently trained personnel and its incorporation in the working and educational environment. The basic conclusion is the introduction of reforms in the education and its implementation in a relatively short period of time. The implementation of the designed directions has contributed to a quality growth and development of the American education that asserts that the quality of the programs and the quality of the teaching staff have to be parallel going and cannot reach results the ones without the others.
The achievements and the possibilities of the European education, unlike the American, are 8 years late. The Lisbon Declaration adopted in 1988 initiated the idea for reforms in the European education and its unification into a unique European educational system. The Bologna Declaration came in 1998, starting with a full reform in the higher education, by which Europe decided to reach by 2010 the level of the American education, which has been applied and practiced for decades. The basic goal of the educational structures is the focus in reaching an applicable, good quality and organized system that will mobilize the academic community in reaching norms and regulations of quality that are basic in the entire world. With the defined and basic principle, the student becomes a part of the education planning in which his role and place is equally evaluated as the one of the university staff. It has been confirmed that the “open enrollment for all students” system offers uneducated effects or it results into a large number of diplomas with medium or low qualifications that cannot be of interest for the future employers. This moment opens space for fast and efficient changes in the system of education in Europe and a change in this dispute of common interest.
The set task in front of the European educational institutions is the development of the idea about where the universities can raise their own funds for promoting the quality and way of education that they offer. The first idea that can be applied is to pay for the scholarship according to the quality that the educational institution is planning to offer to its students. There are several examples for the realization of this approach, including the International University in Bremen as the first private German institution. The basic plight is to select their future students, to make them pay for their scholarships, to offer excellent and good quality teaching staff, to have small groups of students, and to teach in conditions of modern equipment. This model was accepted in Germany with a dose of skepticism and doubts, but less than after 5 years of practical application and excellent operation, this became an example that a larger number of universities wish to apply and work together on joint researches and projects with the Bremen University.
The second alternative task for promoting the quality and contents of the universities is to decrease or fully liberate themselves from the state financing. Teaching with excellent quality professors of international fame must be financed in a different, partner-like, and financial-managerial approach. This model has been applied in Britain and it is giving good results.
The basic question for the best quality British universities is whether to wait for a more serious degree of de-nationalization from the state or to start their own initiative towards free educational operation. The rest of the universities in the EU speak about reforms in the education, but they are far from their implementation. While these reforms, strategies, and ideas are taking place in Europe, America is buying off Europe’s talents and places its education as the best quality and best organized education, sending signals to Europe that if it is looking for a model of success it should copy the way it is done across the Atlantic.
DEVELOPMENT OF HIGHER EDUCATION IN THE REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA
The teaching process in the higher education in the Republic of Macedonia has been for a long time traditional, rigid, conventional, conservative, and non-flexible, thus not offering a system of opportunities and possibilities. This system was producing a large number of contradictions and repercussions of an economic character (the education cost the state a lot, but it cost the students as well, and the average time of studying at state universities was 8 years) and social (inequalities, tensions, nervousness, and insecurity were created in the state institutions).
The Law on Higher Education adopted in 2000 provides a framework for the implementation of the principles of the Bologna process whose member the Republic of Macedonia became in 2003. The EU Tempus and “Erasmus Mundus” programs have expanded the possibilities for scientific and students’ exchange and partnership with other European universities.
With the new educational system, the students have become active participants, in other words, the mobility of the students is greater, which is one of the plights of the Bologna Declaration that is, as a document, directed towards overcoming some weaknesses present in the educational process, like: inertness, conventionality, conservatism, backwardness of science and education, burden of traditional orientations, outdated programs, methods, and procedures, evaluation, and work of the teacher and student.
With respect for the application of the Bologna Declaration, the introduction of the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) and the mentor work with students, the success is guaranteed and they affect the preparation of the level and quality of the teaching, the theoretical and practical work of the teaching staff and the students, introduction of innovative procedures, means, and methods in the teaching process.
With the application of the ECTS, the teacher is no longer a lecturer, but a mentor, a mediator, a moderator, a provocateur, and an integrator. Due to these reasons, after the EU had made a review in the education, especially the displaced position of the students in the educational process (instead of being in the focus, they were in the periphery), the Republic of Macedonia decided for the ECTS. This system provided an adequate position to the student from an object wandering around the labyrinth of the faculties to an important object in the educational process.
It is of special importance for the Republic of Macedonia to join the modernization of the curricula in conformity with the other developed countries by promoting the quality of the teaching staff. It is also worth considering a change in the curricula so as to make the younger generations earlier familiar with the set of problems of the European Union and economy because the population that understands the global environment will be more easily adapted to the trends of global economy. The first imposed prerequisite is the reinforcement of the computing capacity in the research and development of new technologies, which require financial means and use of more sophisticated equipment.
For the purpose of accomplishing this goal it is necessary to provide a fast internet for the students and scientists, which will create conditions for studying and researching together. In order to lift the level of the Internet education it is necessary to stimulate translations and publications of IT; to make changes in the educational system for introducing computing as compulsory education starting from the fourth grade of elementary education, which is anticipated in the ten-year strategy for education development; it is necessary to provide donations for better equipment of the scientific and educational institutions with computing labs and access to internet; to open a Faculty of Computing Sciences with the aim of creating conditions for expanding the number of graduated computing engineers; to stimulate programs for decreasing out-flow of brains abroad.
For the promotion of the globalization, the higher educational institutions should strengthen their relations and cooperation with similar institutions abroad with the aim of adapting the global environment and abstracting profit from the globalization of the higher education, as well as for the sake of completing with success the ECTS via optional courses, international standards in the development of the curricula, as well as modularization for evaluation of the teaching staff.
PRIVATE HIGHER EDUCATION, THE FIRST PRIVATE UNIVERSITY – FON
When we are speaking about the private education in the Republic of Macedonia we cannot omit to mention the creation of the first higher education institution in the Republic of Macedonia that has been using the achievements of the Bologna Declaration and the ECTS for a few years. This is the first private university “FON” located in the Capital of Skopje and with its administrative body in Struga.
Constituted in 2003 and through a constant transformation for reaching the level of the big world’s universities, we have today grown into the FON University, the only complete – higher educational institution with a partnership approach to the students from their enrollment until their employment, with the support of the international public and transfer to the most elite universities in Europe and America. These are some of the numerous characteristic indicators that are in the focus of the FON University:
- The First Private Higher Educational Institution;
- Over 2000 students are included in the teaching process;
- Over 60 assistant professors from all professions;
- 35 full time professors;
- Over 20 part time professors;
- Over 25 administrative workers;
- Permanent access to the professors and assistant professors, from Monday to Saturday;
- Internet system and communications;
- Application of computing equipment;
- Open Distance/distributed learning;
- Publishing activity;
- Full-day work of the Students’ Issues Service.
The ECTS at the study program of the University for European Studies implies that the student receives a certain number of credits for every subject depending on the quality and quantity of his labor during an academic year.
The student can take the exam of a certain subject after he has accomplished a minimum number of credits from the continued evaluation anticipated with the program. The student can get the maximum of 100 points for every subject, 20 of which for attending the lectures organized during the academic year, 20 points for active participation in the lectures, plus 60 points for passing the exam divided into three knowledge checks - 20 points for each. Credit is given to students who fulfill the conditions for taking the exam and complete the academic year with success.
The first private university FON follows the modern trend of science, but it also takes into consideration the needs of the students. The scientific seminars organized during the studies enable the students to be included in the scientific-research process, to participate in scientific meetings and debates that foster creativity and freedom of thinking. The seminar is a possibility for expanding companionship among the students and a good occasion for meeting students from the other faculties of the University. With the joint communication and cooperation among the students, the assistants, and professors during the seminars, the students build-up their personalities and the university becomes a friendly place for studying and an open partnership between the student and the professor.
The education is a process that prepares the person for life, a right belonging to all those who have completed a four-year education. This is why the First Private University FON, in the process of establishing private higher education, is considered to be:
- Promoter of the social development;
- Creator of social elites;
- Source of scientific discoveries and technological changes;
- Generator of national prosperity;
In order to avoid polemics about the meaning of the private higher education today, particularly in the transition countries as is the Republic of Macedonia, the challenge and goals, as well as the advantages of such an education are as follows:
- Changes in function of educational process development;
- Introduction of mentor work system;
- Students’ mobility and less study time;
- Stressing the rising role of the student (personalization) in the teaching process and education that makes possible overcoming the weaknesses that have been applied so far (extreme individualization and absence of socialization);
- Application of new methods with multiple importance by giving greater possibility for influence to the students;
This system makes possible to transform the students’ passivity into an active participation in the teaching process, which means that the student is permanently acquiring new knowledge with the help of the mentor who discovers the capabilities and eliminates the defects of the students who are directed to an action for acquiring new knowledge founded on one’s own expressed or initiated interest.
The entire system of private education is directed towards overcoming the weaknesses in the teaching process of the state universities. It is oriented towards:
- Promotion of the level and quality of the teaching process;
- Introduction of innovative procedures in the teaching process;
- Application of new means and methods in the teaching process;
- Fostering the interest of the students for certain regions and areas of science;
- Exchange of positive experiences with top professors from abroad;
- Efficient work and cooperation with the students;
- Support to acquired and theoretical knowledge of the students with practical teaching.
We realize the communication with the present and the future students as a confirmation for the intellectual and practical evolution. Our faculties are a place filled with educational atmosphere where many students begin their career and we go to the target together – this is the mission of the FON University.
We build the values in a joint communication among the professors, the assistants, the students, and the administrative staff with our academic equipment that consists of:
A library with over 2,000 titles, practical materials, textbooks, lecture notes, accessories, printed material, lending books, materials needed for exams, intermediate examinations, exercises; computing labs, well equipped computing systems, full internet and intranet access, clear and easy access to all information via www.fon.edu.mk; classrooms with modern lecturing and exercises systems, audio and visual equipment; services to students with friendly staff, for assistance and cooperation, support with clear information, concern and advises, presentation of information, financing, scholarships, conditions for studying, organization of lectures, exercises, examinations, seminars, students’ stay.
The FON University has been registered by the educational organization – the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Macedonia, which makes possible its schooling, education, evaluation, and issuing diplomas.
What Is the Grandness and Success of the Private Higher Education of the First Private University FON?
- When the students leave their classrooms, they should be connected with the world that needs their educational services.
- The faculties are building their structure and organization so as to enable a functional connectedness with the labor market.
- Its set-up respects the principles of:
- Timely direction to:
a) Education and training of the future labor force,
b) Expert and professional improvement,
c) Content and organization re-structure in function of meeting the needs of the labor market,
d) Education for development of free entrepreneurship market economy,
e) Education with a focus on its quality – the student is in the center of deciding about all the solutions,
f) Equality in the education, not as equality in opportunities, but in ensuring conditions needed for everybody to complete his own educational maximum.
What Are the Results of the Private Higher Education of FON University?
- The educational process at our faculties is first of all carried out by the “step-by-step” principle and, in developing top skills, its intent is to be permanently improved and applied in everyday life, like:
The special goal of the faculties is to foster and reinforce:
- Proper behavior and justice
- Understanding and empathy
- Team work
What Will Be the Characteristic of Every Student Graduated from FON University?
- A real personality;
- One’s own individual;
- Good manners, knowledge, and capability;
- Moral characteristics;
- Virtue for good deeds;
- One’s own integrity, honor, and honesty;
- Expressed feeling for love;
- One’s own attitude, clear view on general questions;
- Conscious about direct insight in our experiences;
- Conscious and ethically aware;
- Reasonable, able to create concepts on matters;
- Able to form judgments and conclusions;
- Oriented towards adaptability, capability, and modification;
- Wishing, consciously or spontaneously, to accomplish a designated goal;
- Intellectual, reasonable, and capable of understanding, passing judgments, reasoning, and claiming;
- Able of making his thinking a complex internal psychical work;
- Educated with a system of procedures that develop and improve the functions of the living beings.
This is why the view beyond the restricting framework for private higher education in the Republic of Macedonia are the universities that make no compromises in rushing forward with quality educated staff, with potential for scientific research work, with young scientific workers, with an organized and up-to-date equipped space that will be suitable for education in the next 50 years. The mission of the First Private University FON is the active participation in the process of developing an open democratic society via informing the public about the educational possibilities in the Republic of Macedonia and fostering the academic population to get involved in the world’s educational trends, for exchange of knowledge and experience, as well as for their implementation in our country. The goal of the First Private University FON is to create an open partnership among the students, the teaching staff, and the society, in the center of which there is the student as a subject and not an object, who starts his career and entrusts his life investment to the whirlpool of continual education for which there is a larger choice.