Assurance and Quality Management in B&H

The system of higher education (HE) and education in general in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) is based on the constitutional system that defines B&H as a state consisting of two entities: the Federation of B&H (FB&H) and Republika Srpska (RS), and Brčko District as an administrative unit. FB&H entity consists of ten cantons, each of which has its own educational system (cantonal government and the Ministry of Education). Thus, they exist at the state level, entity level, and cantonal level. The First Dayton Peace Agreement (1995) brought to B&H a deeply divided system of HE. The Sarajevo Canton is one of ten cantons in the Federation where the cantonal laws are regulating education at all levels. Elementary and high schools, as well as public universities are financed by the cantonal government-especially the Ministry of Education and Science of Sarajevo Canton. It is estimated that in B&H there are 4.3 million residents, and 8 public universities (Sarajevo, Sarajevo-east, Tuzla, Zenica, Banja Luka, Bihać, Mostar-east, Mostar-west) and two public institutions. In addition, during the past decade many private universities, high schools and elementary schools opened. Regarding the level of education in the field of economics and management (Business, Business Administration), there are currently 32 higher education institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This situation is mainly a result of the Constitution (Dayton Peace Agreement, 1995) and inadequate regulations that determine the quality of these institutions. 

There is some progress in terms of introducing mechanisms of internal and external quality assurance in most HEI. Unlike other countries, where education in general and HE in particular are controlled by the national Ministry of Education which regulates the financing, the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina is different. Below the 12 levels, the system is centralized at the university level, in the case of two integrated universities, or decentralized at the departmental level, in the case of the other six universities, which are loosely linked association of faculty. Both deans and rectors suit their cantonal and/or entity governments. Therefore, the organization of control in BH HE is largely decentralized, which is a traditional feature of academic institutions in this area. Higher levels of government cannot order the cantons to act in the national interest. First of all, nobody has reached an agreement on what the “national interest” is, and secondly, BH HE system is almost entirely dependent on funding provided by the government in their canton or entity. In the case of BH HE system, management is both centralized and decentralized. Centralization means that the legislation, most cantonal and entity laws, is strict, overly decorated, and inherited from the previous system. The law, for example, determines the management structure, the structure of scientific titles, study rules, rules of employment and so on. At the same time, the majority of non-integrated universities, very independent faculties operate as legal entities with their own “rules”, which implies decentralization at the institutional level. 

Coordination between Ministry of Education is better thanks to the establishment of the Conference  of Ministers chaired by the Minister of Civil Affairs. A strategy paper on reform of the education sector was published entitled “Guidelines for the Development of Education in B&H 2008-2015”. The Council of Ministers made the decision to join the European Register of Quality Assurance for the HE. The Acting Director of the Agency for Development of Higher Education and Quality Assurance (the Agency) was appointed in June 2008.

The Agency for Development of Higher Education and Quality Assurance (HEA) submitted a request for admission to full membership of the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA). The agency has applied for listing in the European register for quality assurance (EQAR).