The organization of Higher Education sector in Kosovo is regulated by the Law on Higher Education (No. 04/L-037), adopted in August 2011. The Higher Education system in Kosovo operates through public universities and private higher education institutions (colleges, institutes, higher professional schools and academies). Only accredited institutions of higher education can offer study programmes that lead to a degree or diploma.
Although Kosovo has not officially joined the Bologna Process, since the introduction of Bologna Reforms by the University of Pristina in 2001/2002, all national legislations have served to better implement and make operational the Bologna reform objectives and principles within entire HE sector of Kosovo. As a result of the implementation of these reforms in higher education, all institutions of higher education currently implement the ECTS credit system, the three-cycle degree system, student and staff mobility, the diploma supplement and a quality assurance system.
The right to education is guaranteed in the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo which in its Article 47 [Right to Education] provides that:
1. Every person enjoys the right to free basic education. Mandatory education is regulated by law and funded by public funds,
2. Public institutions shall ensure equal opportunities to education for everyone in accordance with their specific abilities and needs.
The higher education in Kosovo is based in the following principles, as articulated in the Higher Education Law, article 2:
The Strategy for the Development of Higher Education 2010-2015 has gone through the final stage of implementation which has resulted with the promotion of an all-inclusive education policy and the enhancement of a higher education quality assurance system.
The Kosovo Strategic Plan for Higher Education in Kosovo (KESP) for the period 2011-2016 is entering its third and final implementation phase, while the new KESP for the period 2017-2021 is in the process of development.
Another document affecting the development of the higher education is the National Research Program approved by the Kosovo Parliament in 2010 which defines the measures for research promotion and national research priorities for the period 2010-2015.
In addition, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) in cooperation with the Ministry of Trade and Industry(MTI), and the Ministry of Economic Development(MED), has drafted the National Innovation Strategy 2013-2020, which greatly supports the triple helix approach bringing together academia, research and industry.
A significant reform progress was achieved in ensuring that higher percentages of students enroll at higher education institutions. The number of students attending third cycle programmes has increased to around 122,000. Kosovo ranks at the top of European countries for the number of students with about 7.000 for 100.000 inhabitants. However, the increased rate in the number of students brought new challenges in quality management. Kosovo became member of ENQA in 2014, confirming that Kosovo implements the European Standard Guidelines in external quality assurance. In the meantime MEST required increased internal quality assurance mechanisms. Public higher education institutions implement different practices of financial management and this is foreseen to be regulated within the framework of the new Law on Higher Education. Currently, in cooperation with international and national partners MEST is developing the implementation framework for a standardised and unified financial management practice at all public institutions. Though Kosovo still remains just an observer of the Working Group, it has made significant progress in implementing the Bologna process.
Enhancement of the legal framework in drafting, harmonization, amendment, review and adoption of the legal framework governing the high education system in Kosovo has taken place. The statutes of the newly established public universities ( Mitrovica South, Peja, Prizren, Gjilan and Ferizaj) have been drafted and adopted. The harmonization of the University of Prishtina statute was implemented and the new draft Law on Higher Education and the Law on Regulated Professions have been submitted to the Parliament. In addition, all the necessary documentation for the formalization of the Students Union has been developed under the Tempus Project (No. 544357) – “Support to the Internationalization of the Kosovo Higher Education System through the establishment of the Kosovo Students’ Union”. The Students Union has been established and is operational.
The implementation of the education reform for incorporating information and communication technologies seems to be one of the most required priorities for the labor market. The Platform for ICT Data System Management has been approved which has resulted with a more efficient and systematic management of the data’s.
The main challenge in the management of the education system remains the coordination of plans and priorities within a coordinated framework for planning and monitoring. Strategic plans are applied in Kosovo education in the context of shared responsibilities and participation of institutions and autonomous bodies.
The gap between the higher education system in Kosovo and the labor market was pointed out by the MEST and is being addressed through the support of the European Commission and the Austrian Government through WUS Austria research project (ALLED) which analyzed the education programmes in higher education and the employability of the students. This project has been completed and is available to the HEIs.
HEIs in Kosovo cooperate also closely with many national and international partners. The main goal of this cooperation is the transfer of knowledge (know-how) and technology. As a result of the cooperation with international partners, HEIs until now have cooperated with more than one hundred international academics from the USA, Europe and South-East Asia, working with Kosovar students and academic staff. Cooperation with these partners makes it possible for the students to expand their academic knowledge, as well as developing research and development projects which are of great benefit to the industrial and economic development of Kosovo. Kosovo Higher Education Institutions have participated in the Tempus Programme since 2001. Those projects have resulted in the modernisation, initiation and implementation of structural reforms, capacity building activities and curriculum development. Much of the academic staff has benefited from those projects in building their capacities, through training, enhancement of research and teaching capacities through mobilities, study visits and exchange of experience with other EU and regional HEIs. In addition, Kosovo participates in European mobility schemes like CEEPUS, Erasmus Mundus and Erasmus+ Credit Mobility, and benefits also from various forms of bilateral and multi-lateral support.
Technical Assistant Mission - Quality assurance in Doctoral Studies
From 18-19 January 2016, Kosovo Erasmus+ Office has organized two-day capacity building seminar on `Quality assurance in Doctoral Studies` for all Kosovo HEIs in cooperation with SPHERE team and assistance of Mr. Lucas Zinner, Expert from the University of Vienna. The seminar has presented the current trends on quality assurance systems in HEIs in EU member states and exchange best practices and experiences with Kosovo HEIs. The seminar was very successful and served as a forum for debate on QA of PhD studies in Kosovo.
HERE Seminar - Students as main stakeholders in HE development and reform
HERE seminar `Students as main stakeholders in HE development and reform` was organized on 24 March 2016 at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, in Pristina, and on 29 March 2016, at the Rectory Building of the University Mitrovica in Mitrovica. The HEREs seminar was organized in the framework of the EU Erasmus+ programme and has presented students role in HE development and reform with participation of HERE team, Ministry`s representatives, KEO staff and HEIs and its stakeholders.
Additionally, HERE Team has organised joint and individual events on relevant topics, are contributing regularly to the law drafting and policy making at the national level.