Two principal laws regulate Armenian higher education: the Law on Education (1999) and the Law on Higher and Postgraduate Professional Education (2004). The latter sets forth the structure, the main principles of organization, funding mechanisms, and bases for systematic reform and improvement of higher education. The laws are supported by a range of by-laws that cover areas such as degree system, quality assurance, National Qualifications Framework, academic credits and their transfer, student mobility, social dimension and etc. The new Law on Higher and Postgraduate Education is soon to be adopted (autumn 2017/2018) which will take into account the current trends and challenges of higher education system and the priorities of the country in the sphere of higher education.
Armenia's ratification of the Lisbon Convention on Qualifications Recognition in 2004 and accession to the Bologna Process in 2005 provided further impetus on the higher education reforms.
At present there are 27 public and 31 private higher education institutions, 6 universities which are under the supervision of different other organizations as well as 5 universities which were created on the base of intergovernmental agreement between the Republic of Armenia and other countries.
The main education programs of higher professional education (a system based on three cycles, Bachelor/Master (Bachelor–4 years; Master–up to 2 years), aspirantura (candidate of science) - 3 years, and the loading of each semester is equal to 60 credits) are conducted through full-time or part-time modes. The part-time mode does not coincide with the same format accepted in European universities.
The Ministry of Education and Science is responsible for developing and implementing state policy/strategy, as well as for the observance and improvement of the legislation in higher education. It is also a source of funding and performs an oversight and auditing function as well.
The Ministry defines state educational standards, issues licenses and state credentials; draws up the list of the specialties; develops the state-commissioned order for colleges and universities; approves the admission rules for state and private higher education institutions, as well as supervises their implementation.
The board of the higher education institution is the body of collegial management, which is established for a period of 5 years, and formed by the academic-teaching staff 25%, student representatives of the higher education institution 25%, as well as representatives of the founder 25% and of the authorised body 25%.
The University Board every year approves the budget and strategic plans of the institution, maintaining the evaluation of the annual statement (presented by the rector) of the activities of the higher education institution, election of the rector.
State institutions receive state financing, which cover partially their expenses. Another part comes from fee-paying students. The number of state-commissioned students is very restricted or even does not exist (this procedure is both merit-based and need-based) for certain bachelor specialties. The students who display academic honour have a chance to get free-of-charge education.
Since the 2006/2007 academic year full or partial student allowance has being awarded to first-year students of state HEIs, based on the criteria set by the admission requirements of the Republic of Armenia. Through the next years of studies tuition fees may be covered in the form of allowance based on academic success (merit-based allowance). Tuition fees are paid by nearly all students in private institutions regardless of their social or financial status, and at some of them the institutions cover the expenses of some bright students. Fee compensation system is operated by state HEIs to relieve to some extent the burden of low-income families. In addition to this the higher education institutions (public and private) provide the students with the partial discount of the fees (from 20 up to 80 %) according to the internal criteria adopted at the institutions.
In 2016 the Government of Armenia assigned the Ministry of Education and Science of Armenia to study and implement emergency funds to foster the financial sustainability of the higher education institutions in the country.
Higher education reforms which were actively started after joining the Bologna, refer first of all to the improvement of the quality of academic programmes.
The National Centre for Professional Education Quality Assurance Foundation (ANQA) has established in 2008 to signify the importance of the internationalization of the quality assurance procedures all over the world and implement the standards recognized and cultivated in European education systems in the higher education system of Armenia. The main responsibility of the structure is to maintain the quality assurance assessment and the institutional and program accreditation of public and private universities, and the latter is realized according to the standards and criteria adopted by the public authorities.
Currently ANQA has associate membership status in the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) and is a full member of International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE). According to the Armenian legislation to undergo institutional or programme accreditation, in addition to applying to ANQA, the institutions can also apply to foreign accreditation organizations registered in the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR), as well as to the full members of the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA). For the purpose of bringing Armenia's higher education QA system into compliance with EHEA ESG requirements, the Government approved new procedures and criteria for state accreditation of the professional education institutions in 2011. New accreditation procedures stipulate all middle and higher professional educational institutions to undergo mandatory institutional accreditations and programme accreditation on voluntary basis. The institutional accreditation is undertaken on a cyclical basis, and is a mandatory condition for further programme accreditation.
Both institutional and programme accreditation processes are implemented in the following three successive phases: 1. internal self-evaluation and preparation of self-analysis report; 2. external evaluation by a groups of experts, site visits of the experts to the institutions, and production of respective report; 3. decision making: making a decision on accreditation with 3 possible outcomes depending on the extent of the institutions' conformance with established standards: awarding accreditation, awarding conditional accreditation and rejecting accreditation. Based on the decision of the Accreditation Commission the Minster of Education and Sciences awards the accreditation certificate, with the prior review of the compliance of the whole process to the legislation. Institutional accreditation is granted for a period of 4 or 6 years and conditional accreditation is valid for 2 years. Programme accreditation is granted for 5 years and conditional for 2. From 2011 to 2017 it has conducted institutional accreditation of 18 universities and six education programmes in three universities.
Since 2004 Armenian HEIs and individual students have also been involved in the European Union Erasmus-Mundus mobility programmes, and from 2015 in Erasmus+ mobility projects.
Most Armenian universities provide graduates with the Supplement in the Armenian and English languages free of charge. Education programmes offered in foreign languages and implemented jointly with foreign universities play an important role in inbound mobility. International students can pursue 35 Bachelor's and 50 Master's education programmes in foreign languages at Armenian universities. There are also joint and dual degree programmes.
Currently, the majority of Armenian universities offer structured scientific-educational programmes for the qualification of Researcher, consisted of 180 credits. In Armenia, postgraduate degree candidates (Doctorate) have student/learner status. They are admitted to postgraduate degree programmes on a competitive exam basis. Candidate's and Doctoral thesis defences are conducted by the Professional Councils of the universities or R&D institutes and overseen and ratified by the Armenian Higher Attestation Commission (HAC). The main functions of HAC are: regular updating of the scientific degrees' list, supervision and review of thesis quality based on established criteria, and recognition of documents related to scientific degrees or scientific titles received in foreign countries.
Armenia has signed a Partnership and Cooperation agreement with the EU on April, 1996. Starting from that period Armenia has actively participated in EU funded projects, first through TEMPUS TACIS, then TEMPUS, ERASMUS MUNDUS, Jean Monnet and now Erasmus+ programmes.
The highest rate of participation of Armenian Universities was reached during the TEMPUS IV (2007-2013) phase, when several Universities have applied to TEMPUS funding not only as Partner Universities, but also coordinating ones. Eight projects out of 27 Projects funded during 2011-2012 were coordinated by Armenian HEIs.
Armenian HEIs have participated also in Jean-Monnet projects, the Yerevan State University (YSU) starting from 2010 has implemented «European Integration and South Caucasus» Jean Monnet Module and the Brusov Yerevan State University of Linguistics and Social Sciences (YSULS) “European Integration - language, culture and identity module from 2012. During 2015-2016 2 Jean Monnet Modules have been funded at the YSU and YSULS: “Migration policy challenges in the EU and the South Caucasus” and “European Integration and EU Values: Human Rights, Democracy and The Rule of Law” correspondingly. Additionally, since September 2015 the Centre for European Studies of YSU has been involved in the Jean Monnet Network “Developing European Studies in the Caucasus” (DESCNet project).
Armenian HEIs have been active also in the frame of Erasmus Mundus Partnership Projects, some of which are running till 2017. Thus, in the period of 2011-2014 18 partnership projects have been funded with participation of AM HEIs. Concerning the Key Action 1 (KA1) – International credit mobility projects, Armenian HEIs shown a high interest and during 2015-2016 182 project proposals have been submitted, out of which 121 were approved having 66% success rate, the highest in the ENI region. During 2015-2016 Armenian Universities have been funded for 11 CBHE Projects with 4 Projects coordinated by the Armenian Universities.
Currently, in the frame of Erasmus+ CBHE, the following projects are running:
Oher EU projects in higher education:
There has also been a large increase in the number of Armenian students furthering their education abroad on various long-term programme (vertical or degree mobility), which has doubled in the past five years. Outgoing long-term mobility takes place within the framework of interstate agreements with number of countries (Russia, China, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia) and fellowship programmes (UK, US, Italy, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), etc. The Armenian-government initiated scholarship programmes of the "LUYS" Foundation help students pursue further education in the in the world's best universities in the United Kingdom, USA, Canada, Switzerland and other countries.
Armenian Universities are active with the implementation of development, student and staff exchange projects in the frame of Austrian APPEAR, SWISS SCOPES and V4 Countries Visegrad funding schemes.
There were two TAMs in 2016 and one TAM in 2017 already organized. Several TAMs are still anticipated during the second semester. TAM proposals have been developed by Armenian HERE team members based on the current and emerging needs of Higher Education Society. Thus, during 2016 the following TAMs were organized by HEREs:
On 16-17 May, 2017 a seminar and training on "Management Information System (MIS) in Higher Education" took place for administrative and academic staff of HEIs of Armenia.
Three TAMs have been suggested by the national HERE team to be organized during 2017 on the following topics:
The TAMs will be organized during the second semester of 2017.
Overview of the Higher Education System Armenia: https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/sites/eacea-site/files/countryfiches_armenia_2017.pdf
Information on HEIs, Study in Armenia, other relevant information: http://studyinarmenia.org/
Information on Erasmus+, Tempus projects, Higher education in Armenia: www.erasmusplus.am
A Code of Practice for Ethical Conduct in Higher Education Institutions (2016): https://rm.coe.int/16806c85cb
Law on Higher and Postgraduate Professional Education (adopted on 14 December 2004):
Law on Higher and Postgraduate Professional Education (adopted on April 1999): http://studyinarmenia.org/html/1276.html
Statistical Yearbook of Armenia_2015: http://www.armstat.am/file/doc/99493613.pdf