Student population neither in heaven nor on earth

Centre for Civic Education (CCE), on the occasion of the Student Day, reminds that this day is marked by the inadequate position of students in Montenegrin society. There is no progress in academic understanding of obligation toward students by decision-makers, i.e. students are still perceived as statists rather than those who should be actors in social changes. Also, the very students have marginalized themselves with a passive attitude towards the socio-political reality, and the CCE has been pointing to this absence of initiative of the student population in the fight for a better student or social position for years.

The coronavirus pandemic highlighted this problem. Work on universities in the circumstances of the pandemic is not perceived the same manner as the one in elementary and secondary schools, especially considering the Bologna Process of compulsory teaching attendance.  This is also reflected in health measures which lack due attention for organization of teaching in universities and where this issue is almost completely left to faculties and university units.

Secondly, there is an insecurity on the labour market caused by the circumstances of the bad economic situation and the fact that just the second generation is coming out of the amphitheatres and finishing studies in line with the new model of studying, which further complicates the opportunities for future student employment. Namely, the decision-makers have not done enough to adapt the needs of the market to the new model of studying, which is also confirmed by the fact that regulations on systematization are not adapted to the new system even in the state authorities in Montenegro. This proves the unplanned and inconsiderate entry into the reform process of higher education in 2017, and it seems that this issue is not in the focus of the new governing structures. The current model of studying is also not recognized in other relevant laws, which limits possibilities for further training and progress within the profession.

In the Montenegrin system, undefined relations amongst public and private universities still exist, accompanied by the low level of implementation of an already a small number of penal provisions of the Law on Higher Education. There is still insufficient control over the titles acquired at faculties of questionable quality in the countries of the region. This results in hyperproduction of titles and artificial competition on the labour market, whose needs, according to the authorities, mostly had to be met by enrolment quotas at universities in Montenegro.

Students` overburdening with the curriculums, followed by the poor passing rates, is intensified by the lack of innovation, outdated professional literature, inconsistent implementation of practical classes which are mostly still conducted in amphitheatres, but also by the absence of sufficiently numerous and professional teaching staff.

Thereby, students` voice must be louder, which, unfortunately, was not the case so far, and to which negatively contributed the work of representative student organizations that acted in a spirit of non-transparency and political influence, taking more care of personal than general interests of the students.

The CCE calls on the authorities to pay due attention to the student population, appealing to students to be more proactive while expressing their needs and advocating for the promotion of their position.

Snežana Kaluđerović, Senior Legal Advisor