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. A new Law “On Higher Education and Scientific Research” is underway, which is expected to be adopted in the autumn of 2019.
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 under the coordination of the Ministry of Education and Science, 6 universities under the supervision of other authoritative organizations, as well as 5 universities created as a result of the intergovernmental agreement between the Republic of Armenia and certain countries.
The main education programmes of the 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, each semester being equal to 60 credits) are conducted through full-time or part-time modes. Doctoral programmes, depending on their mode (full-time or part-time) and their type (aspirantura or research programme), last from 3 to 5 years and require 180 ECTS credits for completion.
The Ministry of Education and Science is responsible for developing and implementing the state policy/strategy, as well as for the compliance and improvement of the legislation in higher education. It is also a source of funding and performs an oversight and auditing function The Ministry defines the 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 governance, which is established for a period of 5 years, and formed by the academic-teaching staff, student representatives of the higher education institution, as well as representatives of the founder and of the authorised body, each group being represented equally at 25% of the total membership.
The university board approves the annual budget and strategic plan of the institution, maintaining the evaluation of the annual statement (presented by the rector) of the activities of the higher education institution, conducts election of the rector.
State institutions receive state financing, which cover partially their expenses. Another part comes from the fee-paying students. The number of state-commissioned students is very restricted, if any (this procedure is both merit-based and need-based) for certain bachelor specialities. The students who demonstrate academic honour have a chance to get their education free-of-charge
Since the academic year of 2006-2007, the first-year students are issued full or partial compensation of their tuition fees. Through the next years of studies tuition fees may be covered in the form of an 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 academically advanced students. Fee compensation system is operated by state universities 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 the possibility of setting up endowment foundations to foster the financial sustainability of the higher education institutions in the country.
Higher education reforms which have actively started after Armenia’s joining the Bologna process in 2005, and primarily refer to the improvement of the quality of academic programmes.
Major reforms in higher education and research will be conducted from 2019 and the strategy draft will be developed.
At the moment the following processes are in progress:
The National Centre for Professional Education Quality Assurance Foundation (ANQA) was established in 2008 to signify the importance of the internationalization of the quality assurance procedures globally and to put into practice for the Armenian higher education the standards recognized and cultivated in the education systems in Europe The main responsibility of the structure is to maintain the quality assurance assessment and the institutional and programme accreditation of public and private universities. The latter is realized according to the standards and criteria adopted by the public authorities.
Currently ANQA is a full member 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, the institutions can also apply to foreign accreditation organizations registered in the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR) to undergo institutional or programme accreditation, in addition to applying to ANQA, 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 vocational and higher professional educational institutions to undergo mandatory institutional accreditation, while programme accreditation is done on a voluntary basis. The institutional accreditation is undertaken cyclically, and is a mandatory requirement for the 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 2018 institutional accreditation was granted to 25 universities and 6 education programmes in 3 universities.
Since 2004 Armenian universities and individual students have also been involved in the European Union Erasmus Mundus mobility programmes, and since 2015 in Erasmus+ international credit 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 the 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 vivas are conducted by the professional councils of the universities or R&D institutes and are overseen and ratified by the Armenian Supreme Attestation Commission (SAC). The main functions of SAC are: to update the list of the scientific degrees, to supervise and review the quality of a dissertation paper based on the established criteria, and to recognize the documents related to the scientific degrees or scientific titles received in foreign countries.
Armenia signed the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the EU in 1996, which shaped the legal basis for the Armenia-EU cooperation. Since then, Armenia has actively participated in the EU funded projects, first through TEMPUS TACIS, then through TEMPUS, ERASMUS MUNDUS, Jean Monnet and presently through Erasmus+ programme schemes.
In November 2017, the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) was signed between Armenia and the EU, which entered into force in July of 2018. Through the actions set in the CEPA roadmap, among the broader goals of strengthening democracy, fighting corruption, promoting political, socio-economic development of Armenia, the parties agreed to promote lifelong learning, encourage cooperation and transparency in the field of education, modernize the education system, and harmonize it with the EHEA principles and other provisions (Chapter 17 on Education and Training).
In 2019, drawing on the roadmap of CEPA, the five-year EU-Armenia education policy dialogue was launched that aims to outline the education development strategy for Armenia in the framework of the actions set in the CEPA. A number of large-scale projects were initiated, namely, a) the EU TUMO Convergence Center for Engineering and Applied Science to increase the quality of STEM education in Armenia. The five-year project envisages opening of a center for the non-formal STEM-directed education, and setting an innovation ecosystem for bridging research and industry divide; and b) the EU4Youth initiative to support the Armenian youth to increase their employability and actively participate in the society. Four projects are currently running within this scheme, namely, Fostering potential for greater employability, Better skills for better future, Employability and stability, and SAY YES - Skills for jobs.
The EU-Armenia policy dialogue platform is also supported by the EU European Training Foundation. Within its 2017-2020 project, ETF is supporting the government of Armenia to finalise the strategy for vocational education and training, which aims to set a work-based learning through partnership between employers and VET institutions.
In the framework of the 2014-2020 EU Erasmus+ programme scheme, a number of significant projects are being currently supported with the involvement of the institutions from Armenia.
In the KA 1 International Credit Mobility scheme, over the period of 2015-2018 Armenian universities were involved in up to 309 winning projects envisaging 2742 mobility instances. Throughout this period, university students and staff were able to participate in 1857 mobility schemes at programme country institutions and to host 885 students and staff from programme countries.
In the KA 2 CBHE, as of 2019, within the Erasmus+ CBHE, the following projects are running for the Armenian universities and consortia:
Modernisation of Doctoral Education in Science and Improvement of Teaching Methodologies (MODEST), 2018-2021. The project aims to upscale the doctoral education in accordance with the Salzburg principles by fine-tuning them into more interdisciplinary, internationalized, student-centered programmes with enhanced mobility.
Doctoral Programmes in Public Health and Social Science (DPPHSS), 2018-2021. The project aims to improve the quality of public health and social services in partner countries through educating qualified interdisciplinary specialists and researchers.
Promoting Academia-industry Alliances for R&D through Collaborative and Open Innovation Platform (ALL4R&D), 2018-2021. The project aims to accelerate research, innovation, knowledge and technology transfer in partner countries through enhancing academia-industry alliances.
Strengthening Research Management and Open Science Capacities of HEIs in Moldova and Armenia (MINERVA), 2019-2022. The project aims to develop conditions for the implementation of the core principles of open science at universities in Moldova and Armenia.
Modernisation of Environmental Protection Studies Programmes for Armenia and Georgia (MENVIPRO). The project aims to improve the quality of master level programmes in environmental protection in the two countries through the revision of the curricula to approximate them to the Bologna and Salzburg principles.
Change in Classroom: Promoting Innovative Teaching & Learning to Enhance Student Learning Experience in Eastern Partnership Countries (PRINTEL), 2017-2020. The project aims to enhance the student learning experience by promoting development and innovation in teaching and learning, supporting integration of technology & research, and dissemination of good practice
Boosting Armenian Universities Internationalization Strategy & Marketing (BOOST), 2016-2019. The project aims to foster and promote internationalization of higher education in Armenia through the development of national and institutional policy framework and tools.
Development and Implementation of Social Dimension Strategies in Armenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina through Cross-regional Peer Learning (INCLUSION), 2016-2019. The project aims to mobilize the higher education capacity in the two countries to contribute to the implementation of the social dimension strategies through capitalizing on knowledge transfer and cross-regional cooperation.
Promoting Internationalization of Research through the Establishment of Cycle 3 QA System in line with the European Agenda (C3QA), 2016-2019. The project aims to contribute to the establishment of a knowledge-based society in the partner countries through the launch and operationalization of a robust quality assurance system for internationalization of cycle 3 programmes.
Educational for Drone (EDRONE), 2016-2019. The project aims to define a learning environment to deliver more opportunities to access new competences related to the use of drone technologies in professional activities.
Promoting Migration Studies in Higher Education (PROMIG), 2016-2019. The project aims to enhance the development of the similar MA programme in Afghanistan for ensuring that Afghanistani universities are capable to offer curricula/education and research in the field of migration.
Enhancing Innovation Competences And Entrepreneurial Skills in Engineering Education (INNOCENS), 2016-2019. The project aims to enhance innovation competences and entrepreneurial skills in engineering education through university-business cooperation.
As for the Jean Monnet Activities projects, since September 2015 the Centre for European Studies of Yerevan State University has been involved in the Jean Monnet Network project on “Developing European Studies in the Caucasus” (DESCNet).
In addition to the support provided by the EU, the higher education sector is also supported by the World Bank Armenia, the second major donor after the EU. The World Bank, through its 2015-2019 Education Improvement Programme (extended to 2021) targets the higher education sector and aims to improve the quality, promote modernization and the labour-market relevance of the academic programmes. Through the Competitive Innovation Fund, the grants are provided to joint projects, for both public and private institutions in Armenia for a period of 24 months. The new 2019-2023 WB strategy will capitalize on the projects and will continue its support to the institutions to bridge research and innovation.
Some smaller scale projects are also supported by the Open Society Foundations-Armenia (mainly directed at the policy-level support), the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the British Council and some others.
Ensuring Quality in Scholarly Research: Regional seminar with participation of HEREs from Georgia and Ukraine.
Dates: 15-16 October 2018
Leading EU experts: Melita Kovačević and Aleh Cherp
Venue: Yerevan State University
Introducing learning and instruction design in study programs at Armenian HEIs.
Dates: 8-9 November 2018:
Leading EU expert: Gehmlich Volker
Venue: Yerevan Brusov State University of Languages and Social Sciences
LEAD: Entrepreneurship and Innovation program.
Dates: 27-28 November 2018
Leading EU expert: Pedro Juarez Vivez
Venue: Yerevan Brusov State University of Languages and Social Sciences
"Driving University Strategies towards the Internationalization through the Use International Benchmarks".
Dates: 4-5 February 2019
Leading EU expert: Irina Ferencz
Venue: Eurasia International University
Ministry of Education and Science: http://edu.am/index.php/en
Study in Armenia: https://www.mfa.am/en/study-in-armenia/
National Erasmus+ office in Armenia: https://erasmusplus.am
National Erasmus+ office in Armenia (Facebook page): https://www.facebook.com/neoarm
Overview of the Higher Education System in Armenia, 2017: https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/sites/eacea-site/files/countryfiches_armenia_2017.pdf
EU Delegation to Armenia: https://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/armenia_en
National Centre for Professional education quality assurance foundation: http://www.anqa.am/en/
National Information Center for Academic Recognition and Mobility: http://www.armenic.am
Armenian Supreme Attestation Commission: http://bok.am/ (in Armenian)
Armenian State Committee of Science: http://www.scs.am/en/home
A Code of Practice for Ethical Conduct in Higher Education Institutions (2016): https://rm.coe.int/16806c85cb
Statistical Yearbook of Armenia - https://www.armstat.am/file/doc/99510758.pdf