The Centre for Civic Education (CCE) believes that dispute between the University of Montenegro (UoM) and the Government of Montenegro regarding the seat of the Higher Medical School, whose headquarters have so far been in Berane, has its political and legal dimension, while students who already study or want to study are suffering the damage.
When it comes to political dimension, it is clear that the Government of Montenegro has an interest, and due to existing socio-economic situation, namely, attempts to preserve “peace in the house”, and further mobilization of the voting body, to insist that the Higher Medical School remains in Berane, with no long-term or any more thoughtful strategy behind it. The UoM itself was not previously bothered by political appointments or purges, in which its leadership has so far worked perfectly with the Government.
At the level of law, it should be recalled that the entire re-accreditation of the UoM was carried out illegally. Namely, Law on Higher Education which was valid then, but was recently amended, did not recognize the newly adopted model of study. However, at the time, it did not bother UoM to carry out a fast-paced reform, nor it bothered the Council for Higher Education, a body established by the Government, to issue a reaccreditation on 12 May 2017 equally fast. Noteworthy, amendments to the Law on Higher Education were adopted on 29 June 2017 in the Parliament of Montenegro, which means that the re-accreditation could have not been carried out at all before adoption of these amendments to the Law.
The question arises: what happened in the harmonious relationship between the Government of Montenegro and the UoM, who have had a high degree of agreement on politicization of the UoM and violations of legal norms, as well as turning a blind eye to abuses? CCE hopes that the public will soon receive answers to this question.
It is also unclear why UoM did not initiate an administrative dispute against Decision of the Ministry of Education issued on 3 July 2017, which determines admission of 70 students for the basic applied study program of the Higher Medical School in Berane. Is the answer hidden in the fact that the new accreditation of UoM is legally disputable?
This is precisely the example that shows some of effects of the controversial UoM reform, for which the Government did not show enough interest when it took place, while it must have done so as a founder.
CCE believes that it is indisputable that autonomy of the UoM must be respected, but when it gets built, because, as nowadays things stand – autonomy, academical honesty and scientifically merits remain the principles that UoM does is not asserting consistently.
Therefore, the problem of students who are studying or want to study at the Higher Medical School in Berane should be adequately addressed firstly, after which it can be returned to some of the systemic problems in higher education that, unfortunately, are becoming more and more common to the detriment of students. This means that it is necessary to ascertain as soon as possible whether the Decision of the Ministry of Education is legal or the Licensing Form for Higher Education Institution is disputable, namely the license form of Faculty of Medicine, which changed the seat of the Higher Medical School from Berane to Podgorica and accordingly, a final decision should be passed to stop with the ping-pong which only wastes student’s time and reduces their chances of admission to the faculty.
Mira Popović, programme associate