Reforms in higher education
admin1 – December 20, 2007 – 7:40am

Pero Stojanovski

The current situation related to the range of educational programmes in Republic of Macedonia does not follow fast enough the new demand for modern methods of training and re-training of active labor force and certification of vocational and professional qualification. Educational programmes remain approved at national level, unconnected, closed and content instead or goal and problem-oriented, insufficiently answering the needs of the economic, social and personal development.

The reform activities undertaken by the Ministry of Education and Science are focused towards producing educated staff in accordance with the labor market needs and towards improvement of the competitiveness of the Country’s economy. For this purpose, the reforms process is being realized as an integrated effort undertaken in all segments in the education and science – seen both as a whole – for creation of quality and expert staff.

Higher education is broadly unified; there is no separate polytechnic sector. The typical course of undergraduate university studies is four years. An intermediary degree of “specialist” is awarded for studies extended by one year in certain fields. (Country Review of the employment policy in RM, ILO, 2006).

In the frames of implementation of activities for introduction of Diploma Supplement by the Universities, there is a specific model established for this Diploma Supplement, and soon to follow is establishment of unique diploma supplement on all universities, in compliance with the model of the European Commission, Council of Europe and UNESCO/CEPES, which will include unique information about the educational system in Macedonia.

In 2007, the universities will start to issue the free diploma supplement. For this purpose, budget funds are planned in the Draft Budget for 2007 in the amount 2 million denars. The universities have established a diploma supplement model, and Committee will be established in the Ministry of Education Science. This Committee will develop the Diploma Supplement which will be filled in by the Ministry. By May 2007, in order to unify the issuing of diploma supplement, it is foreseen that all universities will harmonize with each other on the level of inter-university conference. It is also foreseen to regulate the issues related to diploma supplement issued by foreign institutions.  

The Accreditation Board for Higher Education in 2006 accredited: 5 new universities and 5 new projects for establishment of private high-education institutions. In order to provide quality and smooth realization of the Accreditation Board competencies, in accordance with the Law on Higher Education, it is necessary to improve its human capacities and facilities.

Adopt of laws for establishment of new high education institutions: In 2007 it is planned to adopt a Law for Establishment of State University “Goce Delcev” in Stip as well as Law on Establishment of Faculty for Public Administration and Diplomacy, in the frames of the “St.Kliment Ohridski” university in Bitola.

The new Law on Higher education will be adopted in the third quarter of 2007. The new law, as well as all other bylaws and other general acts that will be derived from the Law, will encompass the directives addressing following issues:

·    General System for the Recognition of Higher-Education Diplomas Awarded on Completion of Professional Education and Training of at Least Three Years' Duration;

·    Practitioners of Dentistry, Formal Qualifications of Doctors, Nurses Responsible for General Care, Pharmacy, Dental Practitioners, Veterinary Medicine and Veterinary Surgeons;

·    Free Movement of Doctors and the Mutual Recognition of their Diplomas, Certificates and Other Evidence of Formal Qualifications;

·    Setting up an Advisory Committee on Medical Training;

·    Setting up an Advisory Committee on Education and Training in the Field of Architecture;

·    Mutual Recognition of Diplomas, Certificates and Other Evidence of Formal Qualifications in Architecture;

·    General System for the Recognition of Professional Education and Training;

·    Lifelong Learning.

In order to compare the directions of reform of Higher Education in Macedonia with the EU principles, a brief review follows:

The 3 principles underlying Paris-La Sorbonne:

·    Facilitating the mobility of students in the European area and their integration into the European labour market, as well as the mobility of teachers;

·    Improving the international transparency of courses and the recognition of qualifications by means of gradual convergence towards a common framework of qualifications and cycles of study;

·    Encouraging a return to studies or their continuation in the same or another institution, in a school or within arrangements for European mobility;

The six principles of the Bologna Declaration:

·    Facilitating the readability and comparability of qualifications;

·    Implementing a system based essentially on two main cycles;

·    Establishing a system of credits, such as ECTS;

·    Developing arrangements to support the mobility of students, teachers and researchers;

·    Promoting European cooperation in quality assurance;

·    Promoting the European dimension in higher education (in terms of curricular development and inter-institutional cooperation).

Three specific points emphasized by the Prague Conference:

·    Lifelong learning;

·    The involvement of higher education institutions and students as active partners;

·    The need to enhance the attractiveness of the European Higher Education Area.

The 3 intermediate priorities established by the Berlin Conference (deadline 2005):

·    Having started the implementation of the two-cycle system;

·    Automatic provision of the Diploma Supplement for all graduates free of charge in a widely spoken European language;

·    Establishment of a national quality assurance system.