1-An efficient law looked at through individual glasses
The first day of April brought the approval of the Law on Higher Education in Albania. The marathon of designing and discussing the draft law ended with its approval from the government. The law on higher education brings a variety of changes, focusing essentially on the quality. According to Minister Nikolla’s view, the new law changes the financing scheme, introducing a modern concept of financing based on performance. She declared that the new law aids optimization of public finances. According to the Minister, those more in need will be helped, which in turn will generate excellency and public good.
According to this perspective, universities now enjoy not only academic autonomy, but financial one as well, to the point of choosing their own academic staff and the number of students to be enrolled. This way, a certain level of standardization of all stakeholders will be achieved, by increasing competition and as a result the quality of education.
Although Minister Nikolla declared this law does not send public money to private institutions, to the contrary it influences private institutions to finance the public sector, student protests are an indication that they, the beneficiaries, do not agree. In fact, in their protests they have regarded the law as nonchalant, feel left out and even claim most of their professors were not asked for suggestions or opinions on the law.
The Ministry on the other hand shows the detailed journey of the consultation process with all universities and stakeholders affected by the draft law, which has been enriched with their suggestions and opinions. Several leaders of Tirana Universities have even commented that this law and the reform in general should have been proposed earlier.
It seems that different opinions and individual experiences from each side reflect different reactions towards what is going to happen with higher education. Divided in groups of for and against the law and reform, professors prefer not to take the stage, leaving it to students, who have occopied the space in front of the Prime Minister’s office with megaphones and banners that convey their indignation.
However, it seems that everything is already decided. Regardless of students thinking the law generally favorizes private universities, it is not likely for the Ministry of Education or the Prime Minister’s office to change their decisionmaking in order to return to discussions on the law. Apparently, the period when the government feared discontent, expressed through protests, is over. The government has earned immunity and is determined to follow its reforms and orientation.