By Centre for Investigative Reporting
Reporters from the Center for Investigative Reporting compiled the following list of recommendations for improving higher education in Bosnia and Herzegovina from reports, interviews and the experiences of some schools experimenting with change discovered while researching “Universities Failing the Grade.”
State officials should:
- Pass a National Higher Education Act as the highest priority. Such an act could unify an educational bureaucracy now splintered among 13 agencies, cut through a web of conflicting laws set up by cantons and entities and bring in millions of dollars in loans from the World Bank.
- Establish a National Accreditation and Evaluation Agency and a National Recognition Information Center that would evaluate schools and monitor their compliance with high standards. The center would make it easy to validate foreign degrees in Bosnia-Herzegovina and vice versa and to help students get credit for courses taken abroad.
- Grant legal status to universities so that control over budgets and personnel decisions can be standardized across faculties and monitored. Also, for more efficient budget control, universities should be compelled to deposit all revenue their faculties earn into the national treasury. They then would formally request funds needed for capital expenditures and purchases.
- Allocate more money for higher education, in particular for Bologna related reforms.
- Establish uniform standards across the country on staffing, resources and educational practices at private universities and faculties. These facilities should be monitored.
Entity and cantonal level officials should:
- Pass higher education laws without waiting for action on the national level. Laws in Sarajevo and Tuzla cantons have allowed public universities there to begin major reforms.
- Allocate more money for higher educational institutions within their borders, especially those instituting reforms.
School officials should:
- Subscribe to the European Credit Transfer System, which standardizes grading and allows for easy transfer of credit for courses taken among schools and across borders.
- Develop a two-level system of higher education that includes three years or four years of undergraduate study and one or two years of graduate work.
- Forbid professors from working multiple jobs including as professors at other institutions or serving in political positions without taking leave.
- Encourage class attendance, either by requiring it or making classe more interesting. Students should not be required to take more than 30 hours of classes per week. Passage of courses based only on taking exams should be eliminated.
- End oral exams which are subjective, outmoded and subject to corruption, in favor of written examinations and portfolio evaluation of students.
- Insist on and train professors in the use of interactive teaching and interdisciplinary studies
- Introduce performance evaluation of professors by students who would grade their teaching effectiveness, accessibility, value as advisors and their depth of knowledge.
- Operate ethics committees at all schools and run school-wide publicity campaigns to insure that students know they should report professors who seek money and other favors in exchange for passing grades and enrollment.
- Involve students in university management, for example, by increasing the number of students serving in university senates.
- Revive research and development in universities by funding and requiring it and through cooperation with schools outside the country and region. This work should be tied into economic development efforts in BiH.
- Hire young people to replace professors now retiring. These new hires, as well as various groups of students, need to be exposed to a range of modern educational practices and hands-on training through exchanges and travel.
- Demand and assume more responsibility for school governance and evaluation of professors.
- Take concerted action to end all forms of corruption in schools, including reporting offenders and refusing to give money or favors for grades and class placement.