Two years after Bosnia and Herzegovina joined a European-wide effort to reform, improve and unify universities, the country ranks dead-last among 45 participants in reaching that goal. Higher education in BiH remains under-funded and over politicized. Professors too often teach boring classes and do little research. Students increasingly are moving to private colleges – or to classes in other countries.
In a CIN-sponsored focus group, leading employers and business officials in BiH talk about the quality of the workforce universities are turning out and about how they might change university education.
Polls and surveys show that students believe over-whelmingly that their universities are dishonest places where students must pay to pass exams and money-hungry professors can get away with working two or more jobs. A curious acceptance and silence about wrong-doing may prevent improvements many want to see.
After years of war, poor funding and chronic political infighting, universities in BiH have fallen behind those in much of the rest of Europe.BiH students in public faculties typically are taught in the most out-moded way: listening to a professor lecture and taking notes. Practical experience is rare. Equipment is old, technology spotty and libraries empty. There is little impetus for change.
Slobodan Pavlović, a Bosnian Serb immigrant to America, enrolled in a Chicago university while working in a factory and earned a degree that helped him to make a fortune as a real estate executive. At the height of the 1990s war, he returned to his homeland to begin building a business empire – including the largest private university in the country: Slobomir University. But Pavlović is also controversial figure with a criminal and political past and a penchant for winning financially in his good deeds. We take an in-depth look at his controversial past and his current business practices.
Newspaper ads promising easy college degrees seemed too good to be true. As it turns out, the degrees are legal, but mostly worthless.
CIN attends a late-night Friday lecture with dozens of bored students for a look at teaching and learning in BiH universities.
BiH has been unable to pass a unified law on higher education. It is not as if lawmakers don’t understand the problem. Academics are well represented in the top political ranks of the country and of both entities.
BiH universities have degenerated into some of the worst in Europe, in large part because officials support 13 education agencies. Croatia spends six times more per student than the 500 euros a year BiH spends but, students, alumni and business also don’t contribute their fair shares. Lack of money has kept schools from recovering from war damage or updating their libraries and laboratories.
BiH students increasingly are turning to private institutions as an alternative to public universities These schools say they are gaining enrollment because they offer what too few public schools are: updated teaching methods and equipment and partnerships with other schools internationally. However, there is no system to tell the bad schools from good ones and employers don’t really trust the private schools yet.
Reporters from the Center for Investigative Reporting compiled the following list of recommen-dations 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.’
The RS planned to more tightly control a proliferation of private schools by applying a uniform set of rules. A look at the licenses granted and denied this school year shows that personal contacts and politics can change the way those rules are applied.
School promised American degrees with little work.