Public Hearing Held on Diploma Nostrification
The National Assembly House hosted a public hearing on Diploma Nostrification, organised by the Committee on Education, Science, Technological Development and the Information Society.
On the behalf of the Committee on Education, Science, Technological Development and the Information Society, the participants were greeted by the Committee Chairman, Prof. Dr Miodrag Stojkovic, who said that he expected to hear useful advice, ideas, suggestions and recommendations from them, which would help the state institutions amend the legislation to ensure a speedier and easier recognition of foreign higher education diplomas in Serbia.
Committee member Miljenko Dereta, who proposed the public hearing, outlined the flaws in the diploma nostrification system and urged for urgent action which would enable students to return from abroad and invest into the development of their own country.
The Minister of Education, Science and Technological Development, Prof. Dr Zarko Obradovic, hoped that the day’s conclusions would help resolve the problems caused by the long and complicated nostrification process, so that young people can return to the country and find gainful employment. The Ministry’s State Secretary Zoran Masic spoke of the plans for the upcoming period as regards the need to create an adequate legal framework starting by, first of all, amending the Law on Higher Education, defining the status of the bodies tasked with nostrification, the need to ensure the implementation of ratified international agreements in the recognition of international diplomas, harmonising foreign university qualifications with the labour market in Serbia and reducing the nostrification costs.
Prof. Dr Srdjan Stankovic, President of the National Council for Higher Education, proposed establishing a central body to tackle diploma nostrification, while Prof. Dr Neda Bokan of the Ministry’s Working Group for the harmonisation of the regulations and practice of recognition of higher education qualifications, informed the participants of the public hearing that a draft law on the recognition of qualification has been prepared.
Sonja Liht, of the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, appealed for an urgent simplification of the diploma nostrification process, proposing that all state institutions should take it upon themselves to take active part in addressing the issue. Sonja Liht said that generating political will is a prerequisite for it.
The representatives of the Office for Cooperation with the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region informed the participants of their activities and projects aimed at encouraging students to return to Serbia, such as enabling them to gain work experience in state-owned and private companies in Serbia.
In the ensuing discussion, the MPs, representatives of non-governmental organisations, the academic community and numerous student returnees who had earned their diplomas abroad discussed the diploma nostrification process in Serbia and the problems faced by those who return to Serbia with the idea to find employment. The representatives of the Serbian City Club, REPATS, Civic Initiative, Group 484, NALED, as well as numerous others and the employees of the faculties of the Belgrade and Novi Sad university spoke, among other things, about the administrative obstacles in the diploma recognition process. The students believe that the nostrification process takes too long, is too expensive and gives no guarantees as far as employment is concerned. With this in mind, it was concluded that the qualifications earned abroad need to be harmonised with the needs of the Serbian labour market. To simplify the process, it is necessary to distinguish between academic and professional recognition of diplomas. The participants opined that the nostrification process needs to be standardized and the nostrification period needs to be reduced, as it differs from faculty to faculty and can last between several months and two years which makes many students give up. The conclusion reached at the public hearing was that amendments to the legal framework, primarily the Labour Law and the Law on Higher Education, are a prerequisite to any change.