Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country in South and Southeast Europe, located within the Balkans. Sarajevo is the capital and largest city. Higher education in BiH may be acquired by full-time, part-time, distance learning, or a combination of these modes of study, as provided in the Statute of the higher education institutions, as the basic act governing issues important for the performance of activities of the institution, which must be harmonized with legal provisions. Higher education in BiH has been identified as a priority area of special public interest. Care about the quality of education and its development is becoming a priority in BiH in education policies at all levels. Public universities in BiH have begun reforms and the introduction of policies and practices of quality assurance prior to inclusion of BiH in the Bologna process in 2003. During the academic 2003/2004 year all existing public universities in BiH were included in the institutional assessment of the European University Association (EUA).

RegionSouthern Europe
CapitalSarajevo
LanguageBosnian
Serbian
Croatian
Population3,511,372
Expenditure on higher education2,1 %
Unemployment38,7 %
EuroUniversities in top 1000
EuroUniversities in top 2500
EuroUniversities in top 5000
EuroUniversities in top 10000
Students83,000
Foreigner students0,3 %
Enrollment rate in higher education81,4 %

European Country Ranking
South-European Country Ranking
YearOverallResearch EmploymentInnovationInternationalizationInfrastructureEducational potential
202070,9814,512,114,2210,749,99,52
201964,2910,412,29,6812,579,99,54
201868,2910,512,114,2811,371010,04
201762,4510,68,415,2213,135,99,2
201663,210,712,514,7710,135,99,2
201574,9117,7612,515,4913,017,228,93
Statistics of the higher education

Bachelor

Branches of study

Universities implement at least five different study programmes from at least three scientific fields – natural sciences, technical sciences, biomedicine and biotechnology sciences, social sciences and humanities, natural sciences and mathematics, and art.

Higher school is an institution that has been accredited to offer diplomas and degrees of the first cycle, with objectives of including individuals in the preparation and training for the scientific, economic and cultural development of BiH and the promotion of democratic civil society, and achieving high standards in teaching and learning. Higher schools implement at least one study programme from one scientific field and meet other conditions in accordance with the law.

Admission requirements

Admission to undergraduate studies is performed every year in late June and the first days of July (login, written entrance exam, and enrollment. Candidates who had completed four years of secondary school can apply for approved number of students funded from the budget and self-financing students. A month before enrollment a competition notice with the detailed conditions of entry is announced. The list of candidates is determined in line with the success in the secondary school and at the entrance exam. The second registration period is announced in September for a possible unfilled seats, as well as for our citizens who completed secondary school abroad. Every year, the Faculty organizes preparation classes for admission to the Faculty and publishes tests from the previous entrance examinations.

Curriculum

The curriculum is announced and is accessible to public before the beginning of lectures for the following academic yeac. The curriculum defines the duration of studies, courses and their schedule by semesters and years and the number of hours for various teaching forms.

Study programme is a set of mandatory, elective and optional subjects, with framework content whose adoption provides necessary knowledge and skills for obtaining the appropriate level and type of studies.

Study programme determines the terms and objectives of the study programme, a model programme of study, an area which the study programme belongs to, type of study and outcomes of the process of learning, professional, academic and scientific title, the conditions for entry, the list of subjects, method of study and examination, duration of studies, credit value of each course.

Teaching methods

The higher education institution prescribes the forms and methods of teaching in the structure of the study programme. Depending on the course, the teaching can be done in small or large groups, frontally or in teams, using audiovisual aids, textbooks, manuals and more. Books and other aids are available in the libraries of universities or colleges.

Progression of students

Student’s success in mastering a teaching subject is continuously monitored during the classes, in the manner prescribed by the syllabus. The student takes the exam at the end of teaching of a particular subject.

If a student does not pass a particular examination three times s/he is entitled to seek sitting for the examination before the commission. The student has the right to submit a complaint to a competent authority of  the HEI within two days of receiving the assessment if s/he thinks that the assessment was made contrary to the law and HEI general acts. The competent HEI authority considers the request within three days of receiving the complaint, and makes a decision. If the complaint is accepted, a student shall take the exam again before the commission within seven days of receiving the decision on the complaint.

The student acquires the conditions for entry into next year if s/he achieved 60 ECTS credits. HEI may approve the October examination term for students who still need to pass two subjects or to achieve 15 credits. If a student fails, then s/he repeats a year and has the right to attend classes and take exams up to the number of credits achieved in the previous year.

Employability

In terms of employment, students can attend job fairs organized by the employment services where they establish contacts with employers, as well as the CISO centers that are located in the employment services in 17 municipalities in BiH. They have an advisory role primarily to provide guidance to the unemployed, how and in what way to make contact with the employer and general access to the labour market.

HE graduates in BiH face a precarious transition to stable employment. The graduate survey provides detailed information on graduates’ transition to work. Currently unemployed graduates have on average been unemployed for one year and two months. Yet on average they have also spent eleven months in employment, having taken eight months to find their first job. This is suggestive of a pattern of unstable attachment to the labour market that lasts for a considerable period of time after graduation. Currently employed graduates do not seem to fare much better. On average, they have spent two years and two months in employment. More than half (53%) have experienced at least one spell of unemployment, having taken on average eight months to find their first job after graduating from HEI and seven months to find their current job. These data reveal that the transition from higher education to the labour market is far from being a smooth process for many graduates.

Student assessment

All forms of assessment are public. The success a student makes at the examination is assessed from 5 (failed) which is not recorded in the student’s book-index to 10 (outstanding achievement). General acts of the HEI closely regulate the manner of carrying out examinations and their grading. The examination periods are January-February, June-July and September. HEIs may also approve the April period. The exam period contains two terms.

Certification

Based on data from the records, the HEI or art academy issues a public document in accordance with the law, regulations and statutes.

Public documents include:

– Student’s Book – Index

– Diploma on Higher Education

– Diploma Supplement

– Transcript of Examinations.

Second Cycle Programmes

Branches of study

Universities implement at least five different study programmes from at least three scientific fields – natural sciences, technical sciences, biomedicine and biotechnology sciences, social sciences and humanities, natural sciences and mathematics and art.

Admission requirements

Requirements for admission to another study are prescribed by the general acts of the institutions of higher education. Admission to the second cycle study is organized every year in late June and the first days of July for the approved seats. Students funded from the budget and self-financing students – candidates are required to submit with their application: a birth certificate, original or certified copy of the diploma of the first cycle study, a transcript of examinations passed, study curriculum completed by the applicant (if I cycle was completed at another faculty) and proof of payment. The second registration period is announced in September for the vacant seats.

Curriculum

The curriculum is announced before the beginning of classes for the next academic year in such a way as to be accessible to the public. The curriculum defines the duration of studies, courses and their schedule by semesters and years and the number of hours for various forms of teaching. Study programme is a set of mandatory, elective and optional subjects, with framework content whose adoption provides necessary knowledge and skills for obtaining the appropriate level and type of studies. Study programme determines the titles and objectives of the study programme, a model programme of study, a field which the study programme belongs to, type of study and outcomes of the process of learning, professional, academic and scientific title, the conditions for entry, the list of subjects, method of study and examination, duration of studies, credit value of each course.

The second cycle studies lead to the academic title of Master or equivalent, obtained after completing undergraduate studies, lasting for one or two years, and are evaluated with 60 or 120 credits. Along with the first cycle credits it makes a total of 300 ECTS credits, encompassing duration of study and credits value of each subject.

Teaching methods

The higher education institution prescribes the forms and methods of teaching in the structure of the study programme. Depending on where the teaching is carried out it can be organized in small or large groups, frontally or in teams, using audiovisual aids, textbooks, manuals and like. Books and other aids are available in the libraries of universities or colleges.

Progression of students

Student success in mastering a teaching subject is continuously monitored during the classes, in the manner prescribed by the study programme. The student takes the exam at the end of teaching in a particular subject.

Employability

Students are responsible to follow the labour market and seek to be informed through the media, job fairs, employment services or advisory bodies on employment opportunities.

Student assessment

All forms of assessment are public. The success a student makes at the examination is assessed from 5 (failed) which is not recorded in the student’s book-index to 10 (outstanding achievement). General acts of the HEI closely regulate the manner of carrying out examinations and their grading. The examination periods are January-February, June-July and September. HEIs may also approve the April period. The exam period contains two terms.

Certification

Based on data from the records, the HEI or art academy issues a public document in accordance with the law, regulations and statutes. Public documents include:

– Student’s book

– index

– Diploma on Higher Education

– Diploma Supplement

– Transcript of Examinations.

Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Organisation of doctoral studies

The third cycle is organized after the second cycle, leading to a doctoral degree or equivalent, lasting for three years and is evaluated with 180 ECTS credits. The student’s third cycle programme includes the obligation of a doctoral dissertation.

Admission requirements

The right of entry to the third (III) cycle – doctoral studies is granted under the same conditions both to the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina and foreign citizens for whom it was found, after the recognition and equivalence of diplomas of prior completed cycle/degree studies, that they had completed adequate education to continue their studies. The candidates who received their master of science/master of Bologna cycle – 300 ECTS credits in the scientific field for which they apply, are entitled to admission.

Status of doctoral students/candidates

Status of doctoral students is slightly supported through regular scholarships, and more through various projects and offers of foreign governments or universities abroad.

Supervision arrangements

At universities and other higher professional institutions, a special body is appointed to plan, coordinate, organize and simultaneously accept students’ study and research work. These are programme councils or commissions for academic research work, doctoral studies and field coordinators. Every student has a mentor (often accompanied by a co-mentor), who advises students in their choice of subjects and guides their research work. The topic of a doctoral dissertation is assessed by a commission and certified by the senate of the higher professional institutes. Mentors may simply be higher professional teachers or scientific workers who have demonstrated their research qualifications (with an appropriate scientific bibliography).

Employability

The employability of PhD graduates is also promoted by financial mechanisms, i.e. through young researcher schemes as well as the new scheme for the co-funding of doctoral studies. The latter promotes doctoral studies, designed in such a way that the students’ research contributes to the resolution of business problems or current social challenges.

Assessment

Knowledge is assessed by oral or written exams and by completing seminar papers. The numerical assessment scale is from 5 to 10, according to which 6 is the lowest positive grade and 10 is the highest. Individual obligations may also be assessed with a simple ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ or ‘pass with distinction’.

Certification

Upon the completion of the third cycle study programme of a higher professional institution, students are awarded a diploma with their official scientific title Doctor of Science (PhD). The diploma may also state the academic field the title is derived from, but the aforementioned academic field is not a component of the academic title. The regulations for the conferral of the diplomas following the completion of the joint doctoral study programmes are the same as for the completion of the joint first or second cycle study programmes.

Organisational variation

Studies of the third cycle may be organized both at universities or colleges and foreign universities, through programmes and projects of other countries.

Mobility in Higher Education

Student Mobility 

Encouraging mobility for learning and improvement of the international dimension of education, and the development of international relations among educational institutions, is one of the most important strategic goals in BiH. In order to achieve these objectives, a number of instruments were established, of which the most important are funds and programmes of the EU, and intergovernmental bilateral and multilateral programmes and initiatives. BiH benefits Community programmes supporting mobility for learning.

The internationalisation of education, especially higher education is an integral part of all policy documents at national and institutional level. The legal framework is developed in the direction of facilitating and encouraging internationalization in all its aspects, including mobility.

One of the goals of the recently written document, but not yet adopted, Priorities for HE Development in Bosnia and Herzegovina is internationalisation. Its aim is to improve regional and cross-border cooperation through joint registration and participation in projects; actively support the international mobility of HEI’s staff by linking this to career advancement; support the development of study programmes in foreign languages; support the international mobility of students; create conditions for accommodation and other infrastructural capacities for international trade; provide training in foreign languages to staff in HEIs, and enable learning of official languages in BiH to visiting staff; strengthen human and financial resources of services for international cooperation in HEIs; create legal and other requirements for the development of programmes for the acquisition of joint degrees; develop and fund programmes to gain experience abroad for graduates in the field of growth and innovation, on the condition that they return and apply their knowledge in BiH.

On January 2016 a new project “Internationalization of Higher Education of Bosnia and Herzegovina – STINT” has been implementing in BiH. It includes University of East Sarajevo, University of Banja Luka, Džemal Bijedić University of Mostar, University of Mostar, University of Sarajevo, University of Tuzla and University of Zenica. The aim of the project is improvement of internationalization of higher education in BiH and academic mobility through the procedures of academic and professional recognition of foreign higher education diplomas inline with the Lisbon Recognition Convention. 

In order to promote academic exchanges between universities in the region, Europe and beyond, universities and colleges in BiH are equal partners in many mobility projects. A unique database of Scholarships for Western Balkans (S4WB) is available to all students in BiH. S4WB offers a wide range of scholarships for students and researchers of the WB, and gives them the opportunity to be informed about financial aid for undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral studies. The database provides information on scholarships from 17 fields of study in 33 countries across Europe. Education is a key contribution to the integration into the EU. Therefore, this database provides the Western Balkans students easy access to detailed information about the possibilities of studying abroad, as well as basic information about financial assistance. S4WB will enable students of the Western Balkans to gain new experience in a different cultural environment and to apply this experience upon their return to their homeland.

BiH signed Erasmus + Agreement in June 2014, which replaced all previous programmes in the period 2007-2013, such as: The Lifelong Learning Programme (with its sub-programmes of Erasmus, Leonardo da Vinci, Comenius and Grundtvig), Youth in Action, Erasmus Mundus, Tempus, Alfa Edulink. Students from BiH are included in various mobility programs: Erasmus Mundus, CEEPUS, MEVLANA, UNET Network as well as through institutional bilateral agreements.

All 8 public universities from BiH participated in the Erasmus Mundus action 2 projects, including the University of Sarajevo, University of Banja Luka, University of Mostar, Dzemal Bijedic University of Mostar, University of Tuzla, University of Zenica, University of Bihac, and the University of East Sarajevo.

Moreover, eight university exchange networks have been funded (some of them are still running): BASILUES, JoinEU-SEE, SIGMA A, ERAWEB, EUROWEB and STEM. From 2014 there are two new partnerships – exchange networks with participation of BiH institutions: TECH-WB and SUNBEAM.

There were over 150 Joint Erasmus Mundus Masters and some 40 joint PhD programmes for which students could apply within Erasmus Mundus Action 1. All these programmes lead towards joint or multiple diplomas. During the past seven years, around 70 students from BiH were awarded scholarships for attending EM joint Master and PhD courses at prestigious EU universities.

Since 2007, BiH has been involved in the Central European Exchange Programme for University Studies CEEPUS-III, which has provided up to now more than 76,000 monthly scholarships for mobility in 16 European countries participating in the Programme. In 2017/2018. 84 academic scholarships were awarded for academic visits to professors and students at bh universities, while 148 scholarships were awarded to professors and students from Bosnia and Herzegovina for staying at foreign partner universities.

CIP, as ENIC center of BiH, has continued with the presentation of BiH in ENIC/NARIC networks through provision of information about the higher education system of BiH for purpose of the recognition abroad of higher education qualifications obtained in BiH abroad as well as information to the competent BiH authorities for recognition of foreign higher education qualifications obtained abroad in BiH. The CIP website (www.cip.gov.ba) provides all information related to the recognition and academic mobility. In line with the Lisbon Recognition Convention, CIP has published important recommendations: Recommendations on Criteria for Evaluation in the Process of the Recognition of Foreign Higher Education Qualifications for the Purposes of Employment or Further Education. Recommendations on the use of  Qualifications Frameworks in the Process of the Recognition of Foreign Higher Education Qualifications in BiH and Recommendations on the Recognition of Foreign Higher Education Qualifications in BiH to the Persons with Insufficient Documentation or without Documentation, Recommendations on the Recognition of Foreign Higher Education Qualifications Acquired through Cross-border Education and Recommendations on the Recognition of Foreign Higher Education Qualifications Acquired through Joint Programmes.

Strategic Directions for the Development of Higher Education in the FBiH from 2012 to 2022, state that one of the objectives is to establish a fund for the mobility of students and teaching staff, and see year 2022 as the year in which the FBiH higher education will be a full member of the common ERA and EHEA.

The Strategy of the Development of Education in the RS for the period 2010-2014 also speaks of the need to establish a fund for the mobility of professors and students (p. 25), and points to the need for the academic community to be intensely involved in international research projects and the use of EU pre-accession funds, and sees the establishment of connections for distance learning with recognized universities in the world as a road to internationalisation. Internationalization of higher education is set as a one of the strategic objectives in draft of Strategy of educational development in RS for a period 2016-2021. 

Academic Staff Mobility

The mobility of academic staff has been conducted through participation in numerous TEMPUS projects since 1996 in BiH and is further improved with BiH access to Erasmus +, which opens up opportunities for participation and linking HEIs in joint research programmes and projects of the EHEA. Teaching staff in BiH is included in the mobility programs: Erasmus MUNDUS (JOINEU SEE, SUNBEAM), CEEPUS and MEVLANA, as well as through bilateral institutional agreements.

European Higher Education Organization is a public organization carrying out academic, educational and information activities on higher education in Europe.

The EHEO general plan stresses that:

  • Higher education systems require adequate funding and, as an investment in economic growth, public spending in higher education should be protected.
  • The challenges faced by higher education require more flexible governance and funding systems, which balance greater autonomy for education institutions with accountability to stakeholders.

Thus, EHEO plans:

  • improve academic and scientific interaction of universities;
  • protect the interests of universities;
  • interact more closely with public authorities of European countries;
  • popularize European higher education in the world;
  • develop academic mobility;
  • seek funding for European universities.