Centre for Civic Education (CCE) points to the concerning findings of the UoM’s self-evaluation process conducted by commissions on organizational units’ level, whose reports were used as a basis by the UoM’s Board for the Quality System Management for the adoption of accompanying opinions and recommendations.
As stated in the letter of the Board submitted to the Senate, the self-evaluation was conducted for the first time at the UoM, although the Law on Higher Education and the Statute of the UoM stipulate that UoM is obliged to conduct this procedure regularly. It is also worrying that this issue was not considered as a priority by the Senate of UoM, as the umbrella body of that institution, but was in the last place within the item that refers to information and questions. Having in mind that the adoption of the final report is the responsibility of the Board for the Management, according to the out-of-date information from the UoM’s website, this was not on the agenda yet, and therefore the position of that body is not familiar.
In the opinions and recommendations of the Board for each unit, the part related to the standard of improving the culture of quality and academic integrity is highlighted, to which the CCE has been warning for years.
Hence, it was stated that no disciplinary proceedings were initiated against any of the students at the Faculty of Medicine, Law and Economics, which is unusual for units with a large number of students, and which the Board interprets as a way of avoiding processing non-academic behaviour. It is also noted that students generally did not attend the course on academic integrity, which is free of charge and available in digital format, and although the Law prescribes it as mandatory, students’ participation in student surveys is also lacking, which limits the assessment of the quality of studies. Among the most outstanding examples, the Faculty of Law stands out, where the participation of only 2.27% of students who rated their studies with an average grade of 3.6 (on a scale of 1 to 5) was registered.
Interestingly, the Board records the best situation in terms of meeting this standard at the Faculty of Sports and Physical Education, although the operating mode of the staff at that faculty has often been an issue in the media in the context of non-adequate management and pressure on students to increase citations.
A small number of students who attend internships during their studies are registered at the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, as well as at the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Sports and Physical Education. In addition, a low percentage of practical lessons were recorded at the Faculty of Political Sciences (FPS) and the Biotechnical Faculty. However, most of the problems relate to the passing rates and average student performance, which is negatively led by the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, which recorded an average grade of E in the first year of study, while the average duration of I and II years of study at the Faculty of Metallurgy and Technology is explained by low passing in mathematics and physics.
Students of the Biotechnical Faculty, as well as students of the Music Academy in certain study years have low average grades, while in contrast, the Faculty of Civil Engineering has high average grade of master’s and doctoral studies, which is why the Board ordered a thorough review of the reasons. For these study years at that faculty, a high average duration of studying is recorded. A relatively high number of students leaving the faculty after the first year of study is noted at the Faculty of Political Studies.
The average length of time it takes to complete studies is rather long at the Faculty of Sports and Physical Education, as well as at the Faculty of Tourism and Hospitality, where only 22% of students graduated within the statutory deadline. The situation is even worse at the Faculty of Maritime Studies in Kotor, where only 11.12% of students graduate on time. On the other hand, contrary to the guidelines of the Law, a large average workload of students is noted weekly – 36 hours at the Faculty of Sports and Physical Education, 40 hours at the Faculty of Tourism and Hospitality and the Faculty of Civil Engineering.
A positive assessment for the passing rate and duration of studies was given to the Faculty of Drama Arts, with the note that a large number of unemployed graduates are from that faculty, which is why the harmonization of enrolment policy with market requirements is proposed. A high rate of unemployed graduates or a low employment rate into the profession is also noticeable at the Faculty of Law, the Faculty of Sports and Physical Education, the Faculty of Fine Arts and the Biotechnical Faculty, while some faculties have no records of further engagement of graduates (Faculty of Natural sciences and Mathematics).
The large workload of teaching staff and associates weekly threatens to affect the quality of work in Economics, Electrical Engineering, Philology, Mechanical Engineering, Construction, Metallurgy and Technology, as well as at the Faculty of Drama Arts and the Faculty of Sports and Physical Education. Given this fact, it is not surprising that the Board noted that some faculties do not have a sufficient number of scientific publications per year concerning the number of academic staff.
Furthermore, at the Biotechnical Faculty and the Music Academy, a high percentage of administrative staff was recorded in relation to academic staff, and an inadequate staff structure was recorded within almost all units. The biggest problem is the disproportion when it comes to the categories of engaged persons. For example, the Faculty of Economics has only 3 assistant professors per 23 regular and associate professors, while the number of regular professors is disproportionate to other categories of employees teaching at the Faculty of Law (15 regular, 3 associate professors, 4 assistant professors and 3 associates).
The inconsistent assignment of activities at the faculty and the insufficient share of academic staff, as well as an insufficient number of respectable external lecturers are recorded at the Faculty of Fine Arts. The insufficient number of teaching associates, except at the Faculty of Law, is noted at the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Metallurgy and Technology, as well as at the Music Academy, which jeopardizes timely rejuvenation of staff, given the unfavourable structure of employees in the generational terms.
In terms of human resources standards, the Faculty of Sports and Physical Education has a large number of employees with academic titles engaged outside UoM (14) in relation to the number of employees in the same category (10). The situation is similar at the Faculty of Tourism and Hospitality Management, where 17 employees have academic titles, and 10 from other universities.
In addition, a small number of mentors engaged in doctoral studies (particularly at the Faculty of Metallurgy, Technology and Philosophy) are noted as shortcomings. Finally, it is proposed to hire professional staff from the economy in certain units, the so-called practitioners, which could contribute to the quality of studies and the staff relief.
The Board expresses doubt in certain data submitted by organizational units, which is why it is necessary to reconsider their accuracy (the Faculty of Biotechnology and Civil Engineering, as well as the Historical Institute). Also, some of them, intentionally or accidentally, did not provide submitted certain information, which did not allow the Board to make well-founded opinions and recommendations regarding their work.
Considering that this is a self-evaluation, which, by the rule, lacks criticism, the CCE emphasizes the importance of such results because they support the previously expressed suspicions about the poor state at UoM. The question arises: which will be the results of a valid external evaluation of the work of UoM, which should be conducted by the Agency for Control and Quality Assurance of Higher Education, as well as the Council for Higher Education who do not demonstrate enough interest in improving the quality of this part of the education system.
The CCE calls on the new management of the UoM to initiate and more regularly conduct this type of control over the work of organizational units, with an emphasis on establishing a system for monitoring progress and improving the system of accountability for poor performance.
Snežana Kaluđerović, Senior Legal Advisor