Higher Education Reform—From Recovery to Bologna

An emerging democracy needs a vibrant higher education system (Saltmarsh & Zlotkowski, 2011). Unfortunately, in the immediate postwar years, university research was almost nonexistent and university instruction was poor. In the last ten years, higher education has improved, but it has struggled to meet the requirements of the Bologna Process and has seen an explosion of private higher education institutions. In a 2010 report, the Human Rights Center (HRC) of the University of Sarajevo summarized the state of higher education in BiH: ‘The post-war Higher Education System in Bosnia and Herzegovina is strongly marked by the following characteristics: decentralization and ethnic divisions; growing number of education institutions and students; overlap between intellectual and political elites; corruption; “brain-drain”; and diminished research potential’ (p. 8). Before the war, the state directed higher education in BiH and predominately prepared students for highly specialized technical trades, as was typical in socialist countries (Spaulding, 1998). After initial recovery efforts were completed, Western European interests, such as the Council of Europe Trans-European Programme for Co-operation in Higher Education in Central and Eastern Europe, began providing assistance to BiH in an effort to modernize and integrate higher education in BiH into the European community (Benedek, 1997), often offering financial incentives for cooperation and collaboration (Sambunjak & Simunovic, 2007).

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2017 105

B. Lanahan, Post-Conflict Education for Democracy and Reform,

Palgrave Studies in Global Citizenship Education and Democracy,

DOI 10.1057/978-1-137-57612-5_7

Early efforts to reform higher education in BiH started with the Federation Ministry of Education and Science (FMES) decision in 2003 to adopt the principles and objectives of the Bologna Declaration to integrate with European higher education norms (FMES, 2003). The Bologna Declaration has many requirements, such as use of the European Credit Transfer System, student mobility, required research activities, diploma supplements, quality assurance, and monitoring, which have proven to be difficult challenges for some universities in BiH (European Higher Education Area, 2013). These challenges have often resulted in confusion and wasted money, leading students to protest the additional years being added to programs of study with little promulgation (Lanahan & Phillips, 2012).

Due to public universities’ inefficiencies and inability to conform to European standards, many new private universities have emerged in the post-war era, particularly after 2005. Indeed, the number of private universities has grown from 16 in 2010 (HRC, 2010) to 20 in 2014 (‘List of Universities’, 2014). Some of these universities are directly affiliated with foreign institutions and conform to the Bologna Declaration; some offer students internationally recognized degrees (HRC, 2010). However, the quality of these private institutions has been questioned by some, with the term ‘degree mill’ occasionally being used to describe them. As of 2014, however, private universities produced roughly half of all graduates in BiH (Jahic, 2014b).

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