Sarajevo, July 6, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Mladen Dragojlovic
Monday and Tuesday, Sarajevo will host a conference that will mark the completion of a joint project of the EU and the Council of Europe under the name “Strategic development of higher education and qualification standards” in BiH.
About 150 actors in the field of higher education in BiH gathered at the conference to present the results of the project, which supported BiH in the fulfillment of its commitments since joining the Bologna Process in 2003. The Conference is attended by a wide variety of stakeholders in the higher education and employment sectors. Among the participants are representatives of the academic community, governmental institutions and agencies, students, employers, international organisations, embassies and development agencies and all those involved in achievement the project results.
Massimo Mina, Head of Operations section for Social Development, Civil Society and Cross Border Co-operation in EU Delegation in BiH, said in his speech that he is especially glad that this event is taking place during the BiH Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.
“Unfortunately, its contribution to policy and strategic planning in higher education remains under question, pending the adoption of the draft document on priorities for higher education reform in BiH during the next 10 years. This valuable document, which reflects the needs of higher education institutions, decision makers and, most importantly, students, is the result of joint work by representatives of academic community from all parts of BiH.
The reform of education is one of the major driving forces in the process of reaching the economic targets of the EU Agenda 2020. I am confident that BiH authorities’ commitment to socio-economic reforms will contribute to a more positive climate for endorsement of this document”, Mina emphasized.
He added that the fourth meeting of ministers of education from Western Balkan region, which was organised by DG Education and Culture recently in Albania, confirms that higher education is on top of EU priorities. Each country from the Western Balkans, including BiH, Mina said, presented one specific example of reform in higher education, future cooperation and next steps, such as the importance of adoption of new strategic documents, the focus on impact and coherence of support, the link between past and future projects and programmes.
Mina also said that the EU provided EUR 1 million, and partners in implementation, Council of Europe, provided the remaining funds in the amount of EUR 115.000,00.
“In spite of our large investment, we are not satisfied with results and progress of reform processes in this area. There is still a need to develop clear progression routes from vocational and other education types into higher education. Further development of qualification framework in BiH for higher education linked to the European Qualifications Framework – which has been supported through this joint EU/CoE project – is badly needed. In addition, there is a need to involve employers and labour market institutions in the design and delivery of programmes, including practical experience in courses. Indeed, this would help aligning curricula to current and emerging labour market needs and foster employability and entrepreneurship, Mina stressed.
As organizators of the conference said, project results will facilitate higher education reforms through better quality education as well as increased student mobility, both within BiH and abroad. Specifically, BiH partners and high ranking international experts of the Council of Europe developed the Priorities for development of higher education in BiH 2016-2026 based on a thorough analysis of the situation in higher education in state as well as the Manual for the further development and use of qualifications and occupational standards in BiH.