News archive - BiH Higher Education Law

OSCE Bosnia and Herzegovina disseminates information about the ongoing discussion in the country on the situation of higher education, the Bologna process and the implementation of the law on higher education by providing an insight in recent press articles.

3.12.2007. Dnevni avaz
Time to Move on Higher Education Laws

Source: OSCE BiH website

Nations these days are increasingly prospering because of what they know, not what they make. Their success in the global market places depends more and more on human ingenuity. This means that in a modern industrial society brawn begins to matter less than brains.

A good system or higher education is a sine qua non for such a society. It is where these brains are trained. This is why there is an effort afoot to create a European Higher Education Area by 2010.

A working group involved in this effort has said this: “Broadly speaking, one may identify four main purposes of higher education: preparation for the labour market; preparation for life as active citizens in a democratic society; personal development; and the development and maintenance of a broad, advanced knowledge base.”

This is hard to argue with. It seems to me to be a good template to apply to higher education in Bosnia and Herzegovina and a good standard by which to judge it.

The recently enacted Framework Law on Higher Education mandates the creation of the bodies necessary for Bosnia and Herzegovina to enter fully into the Bologna Process, which is a means by which Europe intends to realize its common Higher Education Area, and also to comply with the terms of the Lisbon Recognition Convention. It legislates into existence a Center for Information and Recognition of Documents and an Agency for Quality Assurance.

These bodies are, however, relatively minor aspects of this law, which is mostly composed of dictates about how universities should be governed, how university professors should be hired and promoted, and even how “teaching and artistic titles” should be conferred. It is not a law that appears to leave any university, whether public or private, with much latitude for experimentation and innovation, much less opens the system of the kinds of internal competition that have given American universities their reputation for excellence.

Perhaps this does not matter. Bologna, after all, is a voluntary endeavor that simply seeks to foster the following: the adoption of a system of easily readable and comparable degrees essentially based on two main cycles, undergraduate and graduate; the establishment of a system of credits to promote the student mobility; and European co-operation in quality assurance.

These are means to an end – the end of organizing Europe’s many systems of higher education systems along similar same lines so that, by 2010, which is only two years away, it becomes easy to move from one country to the other, so that European education becomes more attractive to people around the world the way American higher education is, and so that universities provide Europe with a base of advanced knowledge base that will ensure the further development of Europe as a stable, peaceful and tolerant community.

It seems to me that these last qualities, though rarely discussed here, are highly desirable for this country. They are also probably not things achievable simply by enacting a law on higher education.

But even for the Framework Law on Higher Education to make its limited contribution to these noble goals, some things must begin to happen soon. The law presumes, for instance that the Center and the Agency mentioned above would quickly come into being. As far as I know, this is not happening. Until they do, students will find their mobility limited.

The law also requires universities to conform themselves to its dictates, which go beyond the principles of the Bologna Process, within a year. More stringently still, it requires the cantons of the Federation and the Republika Srpska to harmonize their higher education laws with this Framework Law within six months from its entry into force last August. The deadline is drawing near without any visible action on the part of most of these places, either.

When this law was passed, the international community hailed it as “the best possible news for more than 100,000 students and staff of this country’s higher education institutions.” If it is truly going to live up to that billing, it is time that this country’s legislators and educational bureaucrats got moving.

Entry created by Elke Dall on December 5, 2007
Modified on December 6, 2007