The government in Montenegro just influences the public higher education institutions through the budgets for the fees. Undergraduate and master studies are free of charge for all students of state University. It was introduced by the amendment of the Law of Higher education in Montenegro. The students of undergraduate studies on state universities do not have to pay fees since 2017/2018, while master studies are supposed to be free of charge since 2020/2021. Students of Ph.D. studies pay tuition fees at state universities.
There are also three private universities, and students have to pay an annual fee for their studies. Certain universities such as University Donja Gorica provide scholarships for students who finished secondary school as winners of diploma “Luča”, which are students with extraordinary results, students with disabilities, etc. In Montenegro, the Government generally does not influence the curriculum. Law of Higher Education defines some basic rules; some recommendations are provided in the Strategy of Higher Education. The responsible institution for the accreditation process is the Agency for Control and Quality Assurance of Higher Education. There is no difference between private and state universities in Montenegro in terms of accreditation. There is also no difference regarding procedures, rules, etc. Generally, the main difference refers to flexibility. Private universities are generally more flexible, and curricula are more market-oriented.
Educational tradition in Montenegro includes enrolment on the bachelor level. The main criteria are results achieved in secondary school- the marks from secondary school, the mark on matura exam, awards on competitions, etc. After summarizing point, the rank list is created, and the best-ranked students have the right to enroll certain faculty. The number of students for each faculty, no matter state or private, is defined by license provided by the Ministry of Education according to human resources of the institution, infrastructure, etc. The procedure is completely the same for state and private universities. When talking about master courses, except marks from undergraduate studies, important criteria are knowledge of the foreign language as well as the results of the interview.
The relationship between civil society and higher education institutions in Montenegro is strong. The third mission of the universities is recognized as one of the main pillars of higher education in all strategic and institutional documents. Also, one of the accreditation criteria for the Montenegrin higher education institutions is the number of functional collaborative contracts with NGOs, companies, institutions, and other stakeholders, which can offer possibilities for internships, professional practice, etc. But, although there is a significant improvement in the last years regarding the social dimension of the higher education process, the examples of good practices are still more individual cases, and a lot of efforts should be put in the future to improve this segment.
Anđela Jakšić-Stojanović (Assistant Professor, PhD, University Donja Gorica)