The representative of the Agency for Control and Quality Assurance of Higher Education, Tamara Đuričković, attended the Ministerial and QA agency representatives’ meeting on the topic “Legislative alignment with the ESG: the path towards meeting the Bologna Process key commitment on quality assurance in the Western Balkans”, which took place in Brussels on 8-9 of March, organized by the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) and the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR).
The meeting brought together representatives of the Ministries and Agencies of the Western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, North Macedonia, and Kosovo) as well as representatives of Slovenia and Croatia, due to the common characteristics of the quality assurance system and higher education as well as their experience in supporting national quality assurance agencies. In addition to the participants mentioned above, the meeting was attended by other representatives of the countries that participated in the SEQA-ESG project (Czech Republic, Malta, Slovakia, Moldova), other representatives of the SEQA-ESG-2 project countries (Azerbaijan and Ukraine), as well as representatives of the Education Reform Initiative of South Eastern Europe (ERI SEE) and Regional Cooperation Council (RCC).
The meeting was opened by ENQA President Douglas Blackstock, ENQA Director Anna Gover, and outgoing EQAR Director Colin Tuck, who presented the activities of ENQA and EQAR. Emphasis is placed on current topics such as the establishment of a quality legislative framework that is harmonized with European standards and guidelines and respecting the specificities of national higher education systems, but also quality assurance in the field of micro-qualifications and academic integrity through the harmonization of national frameworks with European standards and guidelines.
A special part of the session was devoted to presenting the challenges faced by the Western Balkans countries in the process of ensuring the quality of higher education. It was concluded that it is important to establish a reliable and strong legislative framework, to encourage and create independent agencies that deal with ensuring the quality of higher education, to intensively work on the development of professional capacities, etc. Through the discussion, some activities were proposed in which the countries of the region can work in the process of strengthening capacities and improving quality assurance, such as the inclusion of international experts in evaluation procedures, exchange of experiences, etc.
On the second day, Slovakia’s experience in the process of harmonizing national legislation with ESG was presented, followed by a presentation by representatives of the Slovenian Agency for Quality Assurance in Higher Education regarding research on the degree of independence of agencies dealing with quality assurance in higher education, the representatives of the European Association of Universities who talked about the challenges and trends in establishing a framework for international cooperation, etc.
In the end, it was concluded that quality communication between institutions in higher education area in the country is very important in order to create a framework that will improve the quality of higher education in national frameworks through joint activities, which will then be able to respond to the challenges and requirements of the European Higher Education Area.