More up-to-date procedure of ENIC on requests for the recognition of foreign educational documents is necessary

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) urges to the ENIC Centre of the Ministry of Education to establish a faster mechanism for the recognition of foreign educational qualifications for the needs of the labor market and to respect the legal deadlines for this procedure.

According to the data obtained by the CCE, from 1 January 2021 to 15 May 2023, the ENIC Centre received 11,919 requests for the recognition of foreign educational qualifications, of which only 4,417 have been resolved, leaving a significant number of 7,544 requests unresolved. The CCE has no information on how many of these 4,417 requests were accepted or rejected, and why some of these qualifications were not accepted.

Both Montenegrin citizens, as well as foreign citizens and stateless persons, have the right to the recognition of the document, i.e. equalization of qualifications.

The CCE believes that it is necessary to have the system that will provide, according to the valid legal provisions on the recognition of foreign educational documents and the equalization of qualifications, strict respect for the deadlines. Namely, the ENIC CentrE is obliged to issue a decision on the party’s request for the recognition of a foreign educational document within 30 days from the date of submission of the request. This question gains importance considering that Montenegro is a tourist destination and that the mobility of employment during the winter and summer tourist seasons is on the increase, and the high number of requests testifies to the interest in the Montenegrin labor market. Administrative obstacles in the procedure of recognition of foreign educational documents do not contribute to the provision of the labor force, especially in deficit professions.

The CCE is aware that the solution to requests for the recognition of foreign educational qualifications also depends on the responses from foreign ENIC/NARIC centres and higher education institutions in the country where the educational qualification was obtained, and that also verification processes are sometimes done through diplomatic channels, i.e., through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which further complicates the resolution of these requests. On the other hand, this is often an excuse for the lack of up-to-date action by the Ministry of Education. Namely, the procedure usually starts only after several requests from the applicant, which was confirmed to the CCE by those who waited a long time for this issue to be resolved. In addition, the decisions on recognition, for which the parties waited much longer than prescribed, do not contain explanations that would justify such delays in the proceedings.

Long procedure for the recognition of foreign educational qualifications and the equalization of qualifications in Montenegro has been subject to various controversies, and these qualifications are essential for those who wish to continue their education or work in Montenegro. Unfortunately, we have witnessed cases where the process has not served its purpose. For example, the Ministry of Education issued a license to a private secondary education institution in English language – United Kids International Montenegro – whose diploma will not have public validity in Montenegro’s labor market and will not be recognized for employment purposes.

Snežana Kaluđerović, Senior Legal Advisor