Podgorica, PR press service – Atotal average mark of higher education institutions when it comes to availability of data, on the scale of 1 to 5 is 2.39, due to which the issue of transparency must be more in focus of authorised educational institutions.
This was stated at the presentation of findings of analysis on transparency of work of higher educational institutions in Montenegro ‘University Walls’, done by the Centre for Civic Education (CCE), within the project ‘Public Money, Public Approach – How Much Are Higher Education Institutions in Montenegro Transparent’, with the support of Heinrich Böll Stiftung.
CCE Programme Associate, Mira Popovic, clarified that, during analysis, they checked availability of the most important data as per eight areas of special interest on websites of four universities and four independent faculties – University of Montenegro (UoM), Mediterranean University, University of Donja Gorica, Adriatic University, Faculty of Administrative and European Studies, HEC Faculty for International Management in Tourism and Hotel Industry, Faculty for Business Management and Faculty for Montenegrin Language and Literature.
She stated that all documents or groups of documents have been assessed individually, in accordance with particularly set parameters and benchmarks, and that the mark of one processed area is average mark of sum of all documents which were subject of research within this area.
Reflecting on UoM, Popovic said that of total of 47 documents that were subject of research and which must be available on website of UoM, 40 of them are available, with the note that some are available also in English language, but that there is no documentation about accreditation and license of UoM.
‘When it comes to organisation, practice of publishing data is not unified. Rector’s collegium is the only one which has published biographies of members, but with no contacts. Management Board and Senate have no biographies or contact besides lists of members. There are no minutes from sessions of Management Board, and the last decisions are from May 2018. By far the most non-transparent body is the Court of Honour for which there is only Decision on Establishment, but without any opinion of this body or other materials from sessions’, stated Popovic.
‘Study programmes are available on every website of faculty, with ECTS catalogues. Learning outcomes are available by direct search or in the form of short explanation of what students may expect during studies. Centres at the UoM have different practice of publishing data’, said Popovic.
When it comes to employees at the UoM, Popovic said that data are available on faculties on which they are engaged, but not on UoM’s website, ‘although there is envisaged section for this on website of UoM’, but that there is better situation in the part of data related to projects and publications.
In regard to repositories, she pointed out the improvements via Phaidra website, which offers certain number of papers. ‘However, catalogue of master papers is still empty, therefore, the list of scientific papers serves only as review of thesis. Often, there is no link or documents cannot be downloaded to personal computer’, she clarified.
The weakest mark UoM has in transparency of financial work, she said, with clarification that only consolidated financial reports are being published which are insufficient for understanding of money flows within this institution.
‘Data on contracts are obsolete. Data on public procurement do not exist on website of UoM, only on Portal of Public Procurement, and for the purpose of this research their up-to-datedness and completeness were not checked’, said Popovic.
Speaking about student issues, Popovic said that there are no data on issued diplomas, as well as number of students, ‘and conditions of studying are crudely described in the part of website envisaged for that’.
‘Information of lectures, results of exams and other issues of importance for students are, depending on faculty, published or not on their separate websites’, stated Popovic.
She said that UoM got average mark 3.17.
While presenting analysis on Mediterranean University, Popovic has said that this higher education institution received average mark 2.77.
‘Of the total of 36 documents, which were subject of research, 14 are available. There are no precise data on website about manner of organisation of work, nor organogram of institutions is given. Data about organs are partially available’, said Popovic.
In the part of study programmes, she stated that there are lists of study programmes with ECTS catalogues, as well as that the brochure of outcomes of learning is published, but that these documents are not in open data format.
‘There is no precise list of academic staff engaged on Mediterranean University, but the teaching staff and their biographies are on separate faculty units. Projects conducted by Mediterranean University are available on website, as well published publications’, stated Popovic.
She warned that there is no repository of master papers, doctoral thesis and scientific papers on website of Mediterranean University.
Academic calendar is, as Popovic clarified, available on website, but guidelines are given on separate faculty websites.
‘There are no publicly available records on issued diplomas and diploma supplements, number of students, average mark and duration of studies. Information on lectures are available’, said Popovic.
While presenting findings for UDG, she stated that average mark of this institution is 2.52.
‘Of the total of 36 documents, which were subject of the research, nine were identified on website of UDG, of which seven are available only by direct search. Somewhat more documents could be found on separate websites of faculties’, stated Popovic.
She pointed out that there is no organogram of institution, stating that the list of members of Rector’s collegium is available, but without contacts or biographies.
‘There are lists of study programmes with ECTS catalogues on website of UDG, and data on outcomes of learning are not available either. When it comes to employees, the list is available on website with biographies and bibliographies of lecturers, whereby data on visiting professors are far more detailed than those of lecturers from Montenegro’, said Popovic.
She said that there are lists of projects on separate faculties, together with mobility programmes, but that there is no repository of master works, doctoral thesis and scientific papers.
‘UDG website offers data of importance for students, such as information on lectures, exams, results of exams, academic calendar etc. There is no publicly available record on issued diplomas and diploma supplements, number of students, average mark and duration of studies’, said Popovic.
The youngest Montenegrin University Adriatik got an average mark of 2.41, and Popović stated that out of 36 documents that were subject of research, even 31 are missing at the website of that higher education institution.
„Data on organisational structure are not clear with an insight into website. The websites of the faculties contain more information, but these also do not have all data published. There are no data on website on Rector’s collegium, and apart of the name of President of the Senate and Assembly of founders there are no other names of members of these bodies“, stated Popović.
She said that there are lists of study programmes on all faculties, while ECTS catalogues are not available on two faculties, and the outcomes of learning are available only on Faculty for Transport, Communications and Logistics Budva.
‘When it comes to employees, lists with biographies and contact are given on page of faculty, but in terms of being informative, they vary’, emphasized Popovic.
While speaking about Faculty of Administrative and European Studies (FAES), she said that this higher education institution received average mark 2.56.
‘Ten out of 22 documents, which were subject of this research, are available on website of institution. Information about dean is available, but there is no data on members of faculty’s bodies. Manner of organisation is given in the form of explanation, and there is no organogram. Lists of study programmes, ECTS catalogues and objectives of studying of a subject instead outcomes of learning are available on website’, said Popovic.
When it comes to employees, as she stated, their list is given on website in separate category, and biographies of lecturers can be downloaded from the website.
‘Publications are available on website, but mobility programmes are not clearly distinguished. There is no repository of papers. There are announcements of paper defences. Information on lecturers, notifications and lists of student practices are available, but there are no records on issued diplomas’, stated Popovic.
HEC Faculty for International Management in Tourism and Hotel Industry is marked the worst, with average mark 1.43.
‘Of 20 searched documents, only existence of partial information on international cooperation is identified. There are no available data on organisation or governing bodies. Data on study programmes and ECTS catalogues are available on website, but without outcomes of learning. There is no list of employed lecturers’, said Popovic.
Faculty for Business Management received average mark 1.74.
‘Documents on license and accreditation of institution are available. This is the only institution which has published a separate organogram. There are no data on members of organs besides contacts of Rector and his biography. Data on study programmes, ECTS catalogues are available on website but without outcomes of learning. There is list of lecturers, but without contacts or biographies, and there is no repository of papers either’, emphasized Popovic.
Concerning Faculty for Montenegrin Language and Literature, Popovic said that this institution has average mark 2.52.
‘Ten of 21 documents are available on website of this institution. List of deans and vice deans with biographies exists, but without contacts, while the list of members of Management Board is also without biographies and contacts. Data on study programmes, ECTS catalogues are available on website but without outcomes of learning. List of employees with biographies is available’, stated Popovic.
She said that there is overview of graduation papers but warned that financial reports are not published.
CC Executive Director, Daliborka Uljarevic, assessed that summary data of analysis warn of many insufficiencies of system in regard to availability of general acts, manner of organisation and repositories, but, as she stated, also note certain positive examples.
‘Through this research, CCE has not checked data accuracy, but only their availability. However, also on the level of availability, the total average mark of all institutions is 2.39, or as it could be said in the school-terms – it is insufficient to pass, which certainly is not good enough for the necessary improvement of quality and efficiency in work of these institutions’, assessed Uljarevic.
‘The issue of transparency must be more in the focus of Ministry of Education, as well as of the newly founded Agency for Control and Quality Assurance of Higher Education, especially when it comes to those higher education institutions which are receiving the part of finances for their work from the Budget of Montenegro’, emphasized Uljarevic.
Reflecting on recommendations, Uljarevic said that it is necessary to conduct measures strengthening of integrity on all higher education institutions.
‘It is necessary to indisputably determine, via Free Access to Information Law, the obligation for all higher education institutions to publish information about their work, considering that also the private institutions perform activity of public importance, which would imply publishing the identical set of data on websites of these institutions, especially financial reports and external audits of these reports’, pointed out Uljarevic.
She stated also that it is necessary for State Audit Institution to conduct an audit of operation of UoM, since this was not done, as she reminded, for ten years in which UoM has received over 140 million of EUR from the Budget.
‘Agency for Control and Quality Assurance of Higher Education should conduct continuous monitoring of duration of studies on all institutions, marks of students and age in which they are most often completing studies, in order to make an assessment of effects of reform in education of professional cadre via average assessment of studies and reduction of duration of studying’, emphasized Uljarevic.
She stated also that it is necessary to render available the lists of students who completed basic studies, master and PhD on higher education institutions to which they have acquired these diplomas as per academic years, and for the purpose of, as she clarified, verification of marks of students and prevention of occurrence of ‘buying diplomas’.
She deems it necessary also to establish legal obligation of all higher education institutions to archive graduation, master and doctoral papers of their students in open electronic repositories, but also to publicly post names of mentors for whose students it is determined that they have plagiarised their paper.
‘Agency for Control and Quality Assurance of Higher Education should make a rank list of higher education institutions, whereby transparency of their work should be one of parameters as per which these institutions will be ranked and which their final position will depend on’, concluded Uljarevic.
Programme Coordinator in Heinrich Böll Stiftung, Milan Bogdanovic, assessed that university must be high on the list of priorities, ‘in the society with high level of citizens’ participation to which we strive’.
‘In this respect, our foundation has recognised the CCE as important strategic partner, and the last few cycles of our cooperation and support were dedicated to the topic of high education, academic honour, corruption in high education and fight against plagiarisms’, stated Bogdanovic.
He assessed that, in the region, change of social climate is necessary in which, as he clarified, students do not hesitate to participate in the work of their universities’ bodies, ‘and see it not only as ground for their potential participation in party politics, but a manner to direct the work of education institution that they chose for the mutual benefit’.
‘Therefore, stronger mechanisms of monitoring and evaluation are needed, and this project gives its contribution in this field’, highlighted Bogdanovic.
Presentation has gathered also representatives of higher education institutions, and during discussion, Vice Dean of UoM, Natasa Kostic, assessed that there is space for progress in this educational institution, and that they will study the CCE analysis in detail.
‘It is for University of Montenegro greatest and best interest to be transparent. It does not seem to me that we have anything to hide and we want to cooperate with stakeholders’, said Kostic.