On 13th and 14th December 2022, the meeting of the Working Group on Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications was held in Sarajevo, organized by the Regional Cooperation Council. The meeting gathered representatives of ministries in charge of education, higher education quality assurance agencies and centres for the recognition of higher education qualifications from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. The Working Group is established by the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and Education Reform Initiative of South Eastern Europe (ERI SEE) as a way to enhance the recognition and quality assurance developments in the Western Balkans 6 region, and is addressing the goals defined by the Common Regional Market (CRM) Action Plan, adopted by all 6 economies.
This meeting was organized by the Regional Cooperation Council, with concrete and specific goals to:
- Present the results of the Feasibility study for Joint Masters Degree Programmes in the Western Balkans
The presentation of the results of the Feasibility study for Joint Masters Degrees in the Western Balkans included relevant aspects, such as potential ways of funding a Joint Masters Degree Programme, requirements needed to ensure the sustainability of the Programme, sector in which the Programme should be organized, examples of good practices etc. It spurred further discussions on next steps needed to make Joint Masters Degree Programmes a reality in the Western Balkans, including analysing the legal requirements and consultations with the interested and relevant higher education institutions.
- Present the Regional Recognition Database
The Regional Recognition Database (RRD) is a tool being developed for the digitalization and automatization of the processes within the centres for recognition of higher education qualifications. The piloting by recognition officers is planned for the first quarter of 2023, after which the RRD should enter into the full usage, as also envisaged by the regional Agreement on the Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications, signed by the representatives of 6 Western Balkan economies in November 2022 as a part of the Berlin process. The RRD consists of internal and regional component, thanks to which the statistical information on the activities regarding recognition shall be available, as well as the data base of the recognized and non-recognized higher education qualifications across the Western Balkans region.
- Present the European University Initiative
The European Commission presented the possibilities for the higher education institutions established in the Western Balkans to participate in the European University Initiative, first launched by the European Commission in 2018. The next application deadline is 31st January 2023 and Western Balkan Universities can join either the existing European Universities, or participate in the establishment of the new ones. The discussion was held on the potential steps that would encourage HEIs of the Western Balkans to participate in the initiative.
- Develop the Workplan for 2023
In the development of the Workplan for 2023 the obligations stemming from the regional Agreement on the recognition of higher education qualifications in the Western Balkans 6 are taken into consideration, including the establishment of the Joint Commission coordinating the implementation of the Agreement as well as the identification of the institutions to which the Agreement shall be applied, by participating economies. On the other hand, the activities relevant for the Higher Education Quality Assurance agencies were also planned, taking into consideration the recommendations recieved by external experts implementing the „mock“ review of alignment with the European Standards and Guidelines.