Created on 07 November 2019
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Within the Twinning project between Bosnia and Herzegovina as a beneficiary country and Croatia, France and Latvia as member states, entitled Strengthening Institutional Capacity for Recognition of Qualifications in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the representatives of the Centre for Information and Recognition of Qualifications in Higher Education (hereinafter Centre) visited the Twinning partner in France, that is, Centre for International Pedagogical Studies (CIEP) in Paris.

During the study visit, the Centre's employees had the opportunity to get knowledge on the French education system, the Qualifications Framework in France, principles of quality assurance in higher education, the accreditation of HEIs in France and recognition of professional qualifications concerning carrying out regulated professions and had insight to solutions applied on different issues covered by the project.

Twinning Study visit Paris 13-19 October 2019The first meeting was with the representative of the Conference of the Presidents of the French Universities. The main figures about the French higher education system, presented during the meeting, were 73 public universities, 3500 public and private higher education institutions, 30-40 biggest schools of engineering, 2,600,000 students and 350,000 foreign students. Most of the foreign students are from the USA, UK, Australia and Germany. Within the Conference, there are different Commissions for research, finance, foreign relationship, social issues of students, special Committees for medicine, law and integrity. It was discussed on modesto attract foreign students and it was pointed out that employability and level of science can attract foreign student the most. Employability is more important for the first cycle of higher education while, for PhD study programs, the level of science is the most important. Concerning relations between education and politics at the state level, the Conference was under the chairmanship of the French Ministry of Education 10 years ago, but the Conference is now totally independent, although some relations and cooperation still exist.

Twinning Study visit Paris 13-19 October 2019 2In the afternoon session, the French ENIC/NARIC centre was visited. The best practice was exchanged between centres' representatives. During the visit, a special attention was paid to an online application system called Phoenix. This system is very well structured and can facilitate recognition procedure a lot. This system could be one of the main challenges in developing recognition procedures in Bosnia and Herzegovina and main tool for their facilitation. The second very important advantage is that recognition decision is not legally binding and Bosnia and Herzegovina should strive to issue just a statement with main information about rights which foreign qualification gives in the country of origin.

Twinning Study visit Paris 13-19 October 2019 3The second day was dedicated to the visit of the French Ministry of Education. It was discussed about the procedures of academic recognition, where different approaches and procedures exist among universities, as well as different interpretation of the main provision of the Lisbon Recognition Convention. The Ministry of Education can only advise universities, which have full freedom in developing procedures of academic recognition. In order to improve academic recognition procedures in France, the working group, consistsing of representatives of the ministry, ENIC/NARIC centre and universities, has been established. Concerning recognition of professional qualifications, there are special procedures for every single profession, and complexity of the recognition procedures depends on the profession.

Twinning Study visit Paris 13-19 October 2019 4Education is a top priority in France. This is a reason why a platform for accessing higher education in France has been developed in a way that students can express their interest for studying at universities and after that universities can decide which applicants suit the best for them. This approach has had better results in all higher education institutions as a consequence. Concerning facilitation of student exchange, multilateral and recognition agreements between France and other countries have been signed.

 

The third day was dedicated to quality assurance of qualifications and study programs. The first institution visited was the France Competences, the new operator in the French national qualifications framework and its relationship with the higher education institutions It is under authority of the Ministry of Labour with several partners such as state, regions etc. It has 70 employees with 25 of them dealing with qualifications. During the discussion, it was pointed out that there have been three generations in development of French qualifications framework starting from 1972. The second generation started in 2002 and was based on two types of qualifications, formal qualifications and qualifications based on competences, and a levels of qualifications were also introduced. Since 2018, the new system has been introduced, based on generic descriptors. In order to start a new study program there is two phase quality control, the first done by the Ministry of Education concerning legislative fulfillment and the second done by the France Competences concerning purposes when it comes to the labor market. The main tasks of this institution are regulation of lifelong learning and internship, quality of study programs and simplified system of lifelong learning.

 

Twinning Study visit Paris 13-19 October 2019 5The second institution was the High Council for Evaluation of Research and Higher Education (HCERES). It is the biggest institution dealing with quality assurance of higher education institutions and study programs. Every year they accredit 1050 study programs and 50 higher education institutions. They were established by the French Parlament, completely independent and have 102 employees. The main aim in their work is the continuous improvement of quality assurance at higher education institutions in France through a verification of institutional strategy concerning quality assurance.

After visiting the HCERES, representatives of the Centre had an opportunity to also visit the Commission des titres d'ingenieur (CTI) which was established in 1934. It is the relevant body in charge of carrying out evaluation procedures that lead to the accreditation of institutions to award the engineering degree "titre d'ingenieur diplome". A dinstictive feature of the CTI is that its members consist of an equal number of representatives from academia (16 members) and from industry (16 members). These members are appointed by the Minister of Higher Education. They act on a voluntary basis and are involved in drawing up reference documents for engineering programes, they participate in the evaluation procedures, debate and vote on the outcomes of the accreditation procedures, and interact with the stakeholders. In addition, around 150 experts provide assistance in their areas of proficiency such as engineering, science, education, international affairs and quality assurance. The various missions include accreditation procedures for French and foreign, higher education institutions, defining the generic profile of the engineer and drawing up standards and guidelines, advising on all issues related to the engineering education and profession, action in favour of the recognition of the engineering degree and professional qualifications, quality label which means that the CTI is a founding member of the European Network for Accreditation of Engineering Education (ENAEE) and it is authorized to award European quality label for engineering degree programs EUR-ACE label.

 

Twinning Study visit Paris 13-19 October 2019 6At the end of study visit it was obvious that France invests a lot in the reform and development of higher education. The newly established France Competences is just a confirmation of such attitude. Employees of different institutions are really committed to changes, which is visible from many initatives from the last few years. Additionaly, institutions are allowed to be more independent but a some kind of control is assured by the state, which from BiH perspective is a very positive approach. Taking into account this very huge higher education system it is not easy to find comparison with a current situation in BiH higher education. But from a micro perspective, concerning recognition of qualifications, a transition from a legally binding recogition to a statement is a direction in which the recognition in Bosnia and Herzegovina should strive. Together with this, an online application system should be introduced. Concerning general educational reforms, additional funds, institutional and human capacity and commitment of all stakeholders in Bosnia and Herzegovina is required for improvement of higher education, which will more than necessary in a very short time.