By signing the Bologna declaration, European states have recognized the importance of knowledge, innovation and educational cooperation. Independent and autonomous higher education institutions play a crucial role in the process of establishing the European Higher Education Area, since they ensure that higher education continuously adapts to changing needs, socials demands and advances in scientific knowledge. The rapidly changing environment of today and tomorrow requires that universities also need to develop capacity for change at the institutional level. This challenge implies a system of leadership geared towards change, together with the development of the necessary management structure and university offices.
Subject area of this Tempus project proposal is the improvement of organizational and management structures as well as university services at the universities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, FYR Macedonia (in further text named The Region) that it fully fits in the wider-project objectives defined in the Tempus IV call under the item "Governance reform."
Universities from The Region (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and FYR Macedonia) still struggling with traditional system of education and some fundamental changes at higher education institutions need the support by involving them in the EHEA. The education system in these countries represents a mixture of a standard system inherited from the former Social Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and highly decentralized policies and institutional frameworks established in the period after the war. Universities still have a historically grown non-integrated structure, where faculties are legal entities. Within such non-integrated institutions, the rectorates do not have any significant managerial competencies because these lie exclusively with the faculties. This kind of system is extremely expensive with some major weaknesses in its effectiveness. Only the University of Tuzla and University of Zenica, in the Bosnia and Herzegovina, are organized as integrated universities in the region of former Yugoslavia, but they also need to improve their capacities. Switching from a non-integrated to an integrated governance structure was subject of numerous discussions in the previous period and it is a very difficult task. The new Law on Higher Education was adopted in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2007 and according to that Law universities have to be organized as integrated universities. Also, the other universities from the region will have to change their organizational structure and to improve their university management capacities if they want to follow European trends.
Another critical issue is the lack of autonomy of the higher education institutions in financial and staff matters. Against the background of the scarce financial resources and increasing international competition within the EHEA, higher education institutions need a sufficient room for manouevre to take decisions on their institutional strategy.
Other obstacles for partner universities are inadequate position of the services and offices at the university, as well as, the lack of competent management and administrative staff. University central support services must be increasingly responsive to faculty needs and accountable for the quality of the services they deliver. We have identified the following services, as the weak points at the universities:
- Office for Teaching, Office for International Relations, Department of personell and organization, Student service / Student careers office.
- Student careers offices do not exist at partner country universities at all.
At this moment, the universities are faced with many new trends in the higher education, which also serve to increase competition and to drive towards the better performance. These include: increasing the number of international students and students who participate in the international student mobility, participation in EU programmes (Erasmus, FP7, LLL, etc.), increasing awareness of the interests of students, creation of the joint degrees, etc.
Current rigid and unwieldy administration becomes a real burden to the academic staff, instead making their administrative work as simple and productive as possible. From the given current situation it is obvious that higher education institutions from this region are faced with difficulties and the reform of the university management structure and improving the university services is essential.
After the analysis of specific above-mentioned problems, in addition to everything else, the following needs are included in the institutional development plans of the participating universities:
- To strengthen the significance, responsibility and the central role of the university as an integrated institution,
- To introduce new forms of management and governance and to promote promote the professional responsibilities,
- To increase the university autonomy,
- To increase the efficiency of the university services,
- To create prerequisites for the employment of new personnel,
- To increase the efficiency of studying and its overall quality,
- To modernize curricula and syllabi in the spirit of the Bologna declaration, and to ensure the compatibility with international educational systems,
- To increase the inter-university and international cooperation,
- To enhance the student and teaching mobility,
- To improve student services
- To equip the institution in a more modern manner.
Therefore this Joint European project proposal aims to focus exactly on the issues given above. The higher education makes an impact on all the main components of the development of society and therefore it is essential to provide the more efficient performance of the universities in their surroundings and wider. It will be of great value to learn from our partner institutions from the EU how to organize and implement more effective university structure as well as university services. Long-time cooperation with EU universities in the field of dissemination of latest knowledge and exchanging of university management experience and good practice, as well as in organization of the university services will contribute to the project objectives realization. This project is fully endorsed by the rectors, who see it as vital and important in developing institutional capacities and skills in higher education strategic management.
The idea for this application came during the visit of University of Marburg and University of Gent representatives to the B&H universities. It was obvious, that reform process that has been carried out at partner universities is faced with obstacles mainly caused by inadequate organizational structure and not-developed central university services. The problems defined in the needs analysis are partly identified by EU partners through the other EU projects. The kick-off meeting is organized at the University of Marburg where potential project partners were present.
- University of Marburg, Germany (coordinator)
- University of Gent, Belgium
- University of Maribor, Slovenia
- Danube University Krems, Austria
- University of Tuzla, Bosnia & Herzegovina
- University “Dzemal Bijedic” Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina
- University of Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina
- University of Banja Luka, Bosnia & Herzegovina
- University of Rijeka, Croatia
- University od Split, Croatia
- University of Tetovo, Macedonia
- University of Novi Sad, Serbia
|Projektzeitraum||15.01.2009 - 31.12.2012|
|Förderprogramm||Lifelong Learning Programme|
|Projektverantwortung (Donau-Universität Krems)||Univ.-Prof. Dkfm. Dr. habil Attila Pausits|