Created on 21 December 2021

The representative of the Centre for Information and Recognition of Qualifications in Higher Education participated at the meeting of the Working Group on Recognition of Academic Qualifications of Western Balkans economies which were held on 14-15 December 2021 in Skopje, North Macedonia.

Working Group on Academic Recognition Skopje December 2021The purpose of the meeting was to bring together the contact points and heads of quality assurance agencies to go through what has been achieved to date, and discuss the future of the agenda, in line with the Common Regional Market Action Plan (CRM AP) for 2022. The discussions were on three sets of issues – the finalization and actions deriving from on-going technical assistances; the development of Action Plan on Quality Assurance; the roadmap for harmonization of VET qualifications

and introduce the new actions of 2022, mainly the on-demand technical assistance instrument for each of the Western Balkans economies.

The meeting was opened by the Head of Programme Department of Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) who welcomed the participants, congratulated on the work done so far, and encouraged participants to explore new actions beyond the CRM AP.

The representatives of the economies in their introductory remarks expressed hope that the draft Agreement on Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications would be adopted soon, which would enable further removal of barriers for students and academic staff in the region as well as open new venues for cooperation.

Representative of the Commission's Directorate General for Education and Culture (DG EAC) in the introductory remarks also supported the work concluded so far, and outlined the work ahead in line with Western Balkans Agenda on Innovation. The detailed action plan for Western Balkans Agenda on Innovation was being finalized, which will then enable a more concrete harmonization of work of DG EAC, RCC and the WB6 on the agenda ahead.

Representatives of the economies outlined the reforms in the education sector undertaken during 2021 and including on quality assurance.

Working Group on Academic Recognition Skopje December 2021 2A set of thematic discussions on professional occupational standards, micro-credentials, quality assurance for teachers in higher education and accreditation served to formalize potential new actions beyond the CRM AP 2021-2022. The discussions were also focused on the potential establishment of a regional joint master's degree in the IT sector, and the need for assessing the best options to establish such a programme and ensure its sustainability.

Discussions were also focused on the new technical assistance instrument which would be available for all economies in 2022.

The representatives unanimously agreed on a set of conclusions and the joint work in 2022.

After a fruitful discussion the Working Group concluded the following:

  1. In line with CRM AP 2021-2024, the Working Group took note of the finalization of the assignments on VET qualifications and access to higher education, which will be delivered in January 2022 to the Working Group for review and validation. The Working Group welcomed the introduction of the technical assistance instrument.
  2. The Working Group agreed on the initiation of the process for developing the Action Plan on Quality Assurance, in line with the CRM AP 2021-2024.
  3. The Working Group tasked RCC to commission an assessment on regional joint master's degree in the IT sector, focusing on the best options and sustainability. This assessment will specifically look into available instruments most appropriate for establishing such a programme, and whether it would be under ERASMUS+, ERASMUS MUNDUS, options for sustainability, ways to make such a programme attractive for foreign students outside of the Western Balkans, and study programmes developed based on demands of the labor market.
  4. Further examine potential peer learning activities to be held in 2022, including on micro-credentials. 
  5. RCC will organize consultations of the Working Group with the DG EAC, as soon as the detailed action plan is completed, in early 2022, to further align actions on mutual areas of interest.