Western Balkans universities towards European integration

The aim: why this e-Booth?

This e-booth will enable newcomer Erasmus+ Capacity Building Higher Education (CBHE) projects to get an overview of the political background in the Western Balkan (WB) region, foster synergies with other initiatives, provide hints and tips on specific and management issues and share best practice.

Furthermore, this e-booth will familiarize you with the mission and the role of National Erasmus+ Offices (NEOs) in WB countries. The NEOs’ mission is to manage the international dimension of the higher education aspects of the Erasmus+ Programme in each partner country. The NEOs follow the Erasmus+ projects in their journey by supporting, promoting, monitoring, and disseminating relevant activities. In Western Balkans, NEOs aim to especially build bridges and networks between local beneficiaries so as to boost impact beyond the higher education and reach the societies of all Western Balkan countries.

By exploring this e-Booth, you will find valuable information, which can inspire you, help you obtain knowledge and new ideas, and, finally, start implementing your project.

Main topic

Through this e-booth, you will find important messages that will be useful for the management of your project in the Western Balkans (WB). Here is a preview:

Erasmus+ Programme: key contributor to the EU and WB strategies in education and research

The education and research policies and strategies in the Western Balkans are focused on preparing the ground for integration in the European Union. They follow the European Agenda on Innovation, Research, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, which outlines a comprehensive, long-term strategy for cooperation with the WB region and consists of three pillars: political, thematic, and regional. Erasmus+ Programme in WB is fully in harmony with this Agenda and in line with the national country priorities. University staff and students participating in the Erasmus+ Programme contribute to novelties in practices and policy reform in order to modernise the education and research.

For more than 20 years the Tempus and the Erasmus+ programme have played a vital role in Europeanisation of Higher Educations system of WB countries; have increased the quality of education; have opened opportunities for teaching staff and students and have strengthened partnerships between HE institutions.

Erasmus+ opportunities for staff and students:

Erasmus+ opportunities for Kosovo Higher Education Institutions:

EU funded initiatives: a way forward towards Europe

HEIs face compressed agendas of internal reforms and transitions, which require a strong governance and resources. HEIs aim at boosting internationalization and quality assurance and strengthening the linkage between universities and industry. In this context, Erasmus+ Programme offers HEIs in Western Balkans a unique possibility to build networks of consortia, to develop innovative projects that contribute to modernise the institutions and prepare them to the way towards Europe. With more than 47,000 mobilities for universities staff and students supported with 123 million Euros, and with 82 million Euros in cooperation projects, Erasmus+ Programme modernised and opened perspectives for a smoother reach of European standards in the field of education.

Strengthening region ties to the EU

More education, training, research, innovation and culture

NEOs help you in the implementation of your projects

NEOs in WB countries are your mentors during your project application and implementation. The main mission of the NEOs is monitoring and evaluating funded projects; assisting applicants and participants; supporting policy dialogue and maintaining contacts with local authorities and EU Delegations. Furthermore, WB NEOs aim to create a synergy among HEIs of the region and other partner countries of the Erasmus+ Programme. In cooperation with EU Delegations and national strategies, NEOs aim to strengthen the networking of the HEIs of the WB and build network bridges between the CBHE projects of the region.

NEOs also support the team of Higher Education Reform Experts (HEREs). The purpose of the National Teams of HEREs is to provide a pool of expertise to promote reforms and enhance progress in Higher Education in the countries concerned and therefore participate in the development of policies and reforms in Higher Education in their respective countries.

Documents that can be useful for your project implementation:

NEO presentation “CBHE project management rules”

NEO presentation “Implementation of CBHE projects – good management documents”, Cluster meeting 2019

Procedure of VAT exemption in Montenegro for EU programmes 

Bosnia and Herzegovina VAT exemption instructions for CBHE projects

NEO Albania full day training at the National Info Session

NEO Kosovo video

Attend our live session on Friday, 29 January from 14:00 to 14:45 to learn more about our role in the implementation of CBHE projects!

Background info

Impact of the Erasmus+ Programme 

© Siora

The Erasmus+ Programme has produced numerous positive impacts in the WB region. Through the introduction of modernized curricula, interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approach, improved infrastructure, upgraded teaching methodologies, improved capacities of academic staff and students, Erasmus + very much contributed to the improved quality of HE system in the WB region. Not to speak of the system level changes that were realized thanks to structural projects, having impact at the level of WB societies overall. All this led to a higher competitiveness of WB HEIs, and their readiness to take part in other projects and initiatives. The projects underpinned better collaboration at the local level, both within and outside the academic community, as well as contributed to the collaboration with non-academic partners, and opened a platform for closer communication and dialogue with the labor market. Indirectly, these projects also contributed to higher employability of graduates, and were an added value to the EU integration process in WB region. As its very name says, capacity building projects to a great extend enabled building capacities of academic and administrative staff in terms of participation in EU projects. Consequently, the Erasmus+ Programme generated new initiatives, widened areas of cooperation, thus enabling sustainability of the existing initiatives and the development of partnerships. Last but not least, cooperation within WB region has been considerably strengthened. For all these reasons, Erasmus + is not just an EU flagship Programme, but also a WB flagship Programme, recognized at the highest level of our societies.

WB is growing 

According to World Economy Forum organized in February 2020, WB is one of the areas in Europe with the best growth prospects for the future. Innovation funds have been successful, but they are still too fragmented to have the necessary scale. The region needs dedicated research funds providing capital for targeted research missions that can create new and more sustainable pathways for growth.

Referring to the Zagreb Declaration (EU-WB summit on 6 May 2020) WB should transform into functioning market economies able to fully link to the EU’s single market, to create jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities, to improve business, to invest in climate and to promote the rule of law. In this endeavour, a prominent role should be given to the association of the region to the EU’s climate-related ambitions, in line with the Paris Agreement, to promoting the Green Agenda for WB, as well as to furthering the digital economy and, strengthening connectivity in all its dimensions: transport, energy, digital and people-to-people, including tourism and culture. The focus should also be put on social development, and on measures in the areas of health, education, social policy, and creating further opportunities for the youth.

EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth highlighted that the EC is ready to engage with the region. WB Agenda on research, innovation, education, culture, youth and sports has been introduced. This Agenda is expected to provide a positive and forward-looking vision for all citizens, and youth in particular. It will open the opportunities to students, researchers, innovators and cultural operators so that they access new markets, become more competitive and build sustainable prosperity. Consequently, it is a positive vision for all. The Agenda is a long-term strategy for cooperation with the region, through increased investments in Research, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport: it will contribute to the region’s economic and societal development and cooperation.

The WB agenda should be addressed through different actions and as one of the most important tool: Erasmus+ Programme.

National strategic framework of WB countries 

Generally speaking, the national strategic framework of WB countries is in line with the Erasmus+ general framework and its objectives. Objectives set in Erasmus+ Programme reflect the needs and priorities of the WB region.

Strategies on development of higher education and laws on higher education in several cases highlight the importance of EU programmes in higher education and foresee the establishment of respective agencies, as is the case with Montenegrin law on Higher Education. Other countries have as well-made amendments of their respective Laws on Higher Education in order to enhance the implementation of EU programmes and created strategies for development of higher education. The strategies/reforms in Albania are oriented by the priorities set up in the “National Plan for European integration 2014 – 2020”. While in Bosnia, the key document is the Decision on Adoption of Priorities for Higher Education Development in Bosnia and Herzegovina for the Period 2016-2026.

Today, the implementation of the Erasmus+ programme in WB partner countries is monitored by the National Erasmus+ offices, which in cooperation with the EU delegations support the implementation of these EU funded projects.

The national strategic framework and the list of accredited universities of each WB countries can be found at the following links:



The accredited universities

The procedures for the accreditation

Accredited study programmes

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Laws and strategies

Link of accredited HEIs in BiH

Documents for accreditation




The accredited universities

The procedures for the accreditation

Accredited study program: Public HEIs




Accredited study programs

The rules of accreditation

Accredited study programs

Current Challenges

WB partner countries often encounter common challenges when it comes to the implementation of the CBHE project, with of course, specific challenges which are more prominent in one country than in another.

In Albania the strengthening of the growth and investment through public-private partnerships and oriented digital skills has been highlighted as one of the key current challenges in implementation of the CBHE projects. To achieve sustainable growth, it is important to develop strong partnerships with the private sector, which can complement the investments from the public sector and ensure projects deliver the necessary impact. The Western Balkans have shown a strong growth of its start-up environment and several countries have launched digital initiatives to transform their economies and societies. However, business sophistication ranks still very low in the region, which points to a lack of integration and industry density and much remains to be done to ensure the region can withstand the pressures on their job markets and deliver successful efforts to develop reskilling and technological skills in all industries.

Other challenges identified in Albania also include the concentration of power as well as policymakers in higher stages of hierarchy and this poses a problem recognized by all. Debates have started about new legislation on education, as all education funding, and earmarked funds are under an invisible veil. The implementation of CBHE project also faces the lack of knowledge and skills to help reform the governance of education and the lack of stability and continuity in education, due to political pressures. Also, the management centralization of the CBHE at the public institutions sometimes bring strangles or delays.

Bosnia and Herzegovina highlights the weaknesses of the Quality Assurance (QA) institutional framework, which have a negative impact on reputation of HEIs and on deepening of HE reform according to European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance (ESG). At the same time, challenges regarding QA framework undermine trust and create a negative perception of HEI capability and quality, which contributes to further isolation of HEIs as centres of knowledge and slows down the transfer of knowledge and innovations as a main prerequisite for modernisation of societal capacity to face challenges regarding large global issues such as climate change, public health, or corruption etc. In BiH, a  multidisciplinary approach is not promoted, even if it is outlined as a key for future development in some internal HEIs documents.

Very traditional HEIs governance systems and procedures affect HEIs capability to respond to society needs and requests shaped by project implementation. So, the highest priority in this aspect is fast digitalization of different areas of HEIs governance system.

HE reform, but also implementation of CBHE, is challenged by low involvement of students and alumni. It is evident that students are part of CBHE project implementation, but their role is very passive. Passive role of students and alumni has a negative impact on deepening in the quality of HE reform as well as the QA system, as well as the capacity of HEIs to improve all aspects of student experience and quality of education process.

The remaining challenge relates to the capability to involve HEIs and other stakeholders from less urban regions. Analysing the regional and institutional aspects related to participation of different institutions in projects, it is noticeable that institutions from less urban regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as private higher education institutions and higher schools are less represented in the Erasmus+ projects.

Along with these challenges, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, accreditation is also one of the most highlighted challenges. The accreditation process is still the main problem in educational reforms.

In Kosovo, one of the most significant challenges tackling the Higher Education is the non-compliance with the quality standards in higher education institutions. While the number of students and study programmes has increased, the teacher-student ratio has deteriorated considerably. On the other hand, building of internal quality assurance mechanisms, strengthening ethics, transparency and building of adequate infrastructures to support scientific research work, mechanisms to link study programs with labour market also remained very limited. There is a clear division between HE institutions from the public and the private sector. In the public sector, there is a tendency to profile and focus in some study fields, but not in the traditional subjects, whereas the University of Pristina remains more traditional.

All HEIs are struggling to strengthen the internationalisation. The lack of study programs in English language is challenging the implementation of Erasmus+ ICM projects and partially CBHE projects. This influences the involvement of the staff and students in international projects and decreases new initiatives for new applications for Erasmus+ projects.

In the HEIs there is a lack of capacity for implementation of joint doctoral programmes. Many HEIs have failed to get accreditation for new doctoral programs, while they did not build mechanisms that initiate and apply for joint doctoral programmes.

Kosovo has no funding methodology or financing formula for higher education institutions, although the legislation defines the development of effective performance-based funding mechanisms, which impacts the implementation of CBHE. The budget of public HEI is approved by Ministry of Education Science and Technology (MEST) and administered by the Ministry of Finance. Apart from the University of Pristina, no other public HEI in Kosovo has a separate budget line under the budget law. They remain, however, within the MEST budget and undergo very long administrative and financial procedures, which puts these public HEIs at a disadvantage and makes them receive unequal treatment. While this method may have been justified in the initial stages of their establishment, it is now considered as an obstacle for university management.

Schengen Visa issue is another obstacle, long procedures and long appointments make serious obstacles to properly implementing the projects.

In Montenegro one of the key challenges is the accreditation process for the projects that aim at introducing/modernising a study programme. Curriculum Development projects have encountered many obstacles during the project implementation process. Two types of challenges are highlighted during the realization of the projects: institutional challenges and national challenges. On what concerns institutional challenges these are related to  the university hierarchy, while the national challenge is the employability issue and the link between university and industrial/business sector. There is bottom –up institutional challenges preceeding the major challenge, which is the process of accreditation. Experiences from the past showed the following:  before the study program is introduced to the Senate for accreditation, project local coordinators noticed the lack of interest from faculty and university management in implementing the project, even though their support and involvement aresometimes crucial for having a successful project outcome. Political will from the Ministry of Education is not always satisfactory , especially when the project aims at introducing a new study programme. Bureaucratic problems often contribute to delays in the achievement of the project goals. Local project coordinators appeal for a greater autonomy regarding projects.

Concerning common actual challenges equivalent to all HEIs from WB partner countries, these include:

-The lack of communication and collaboration with relevant stakeholders. Non-academic partners relevant for contributing to the achievement of the project aims and sustainability of project results should be invited by the academic partners to engage in projects. Relevant stakeholders could bring added value to the project.

- The lack of inclusive approach when implementing the project. Every CBHE project, regardless of the topic covered should promote an inclusive approach during implementation. Therefore, a special attention should be made to marginalized groups of the society, to make sure that the project results will be also beneficial for them.

- QA mechanisms need further efforts in the region. The quality of the projects in the region, except from the project management bodies established (QA Committee), should also be evaluated and observed by relevant national authorities, which are in charge of ensuring quality in higher education.

- Lack of institutional support. The HEIs which are part of the partnership consortia should gain support from the highest level of their institution. The project objectives should be in line with the institutional strategies of the HEIs and once signing the Partnership Agreement, the institutions commit themselves to duly complete with their tasks defined.

- Lack of synergies between projects. Synergies should be established between projects covering similar topics/fields so that a stronger impact of the projects can be achieved, and the sustainability of the project results can be ensured more easily.

- Sustainability of the project results. Most of the projects in WB partner countries produce ad hoc results which are not maintained after the project EU funding ends. Further collaboration initiatives should be initiated with relevant national institutions and stakeholders so that the project deliverables continue to be maintained in a long term.

- Common financial management. Explore the possibility of a single accounting system, as well as tendering procedure, at least for EU funded projects. Very often, due to complex administrative procedure, the major objective of the project is “neglected”, while the main focus is on the technical administration, that very often jeopardizes and “neglects” the idea behind the project. In this way, instead of getting more people interested in the program, they become more demotivated.

- Covid 19 is also affecting the implementation of the EU funded projects.

Albania-CBHE project impact COVID- 19 report

Albania- ICM project impact COVID-19report

HERE Albania publication Challenges of HEI during Covid 19 situation

Challenges of Higher Education in Kosovo during pandemic period. What next? (Facebook Livestream)

HERE articles on COVID 19:

- http://www.erasmusplus.ac.me/wp-content/uploads/prof.-Danilo-Nikoli%C4%87-Higher-Education-Reform-Expert.pdf

- http://www.erasmusplus.ac.me/wp-content/uploads/Mubera-Kurpejovi%C4%8D-Higher-Education-Reform-Expert.pdf

- http://www.erasmusplus.ac.me/wp-content/uploads/Sara-Arianna-Serhatli%C4%87-Higher-Education-Reform-Expert.pdf

Existing Initiatives

“EU cooperation with Western Balkans offers unparalleled opportunities. The Agenda for the Western Balkans will open these opportunities to students, researchers, innovators and cultural operators so that they access new markets, become more competitive and build sustainable prosperity. It’s a positive and forward-looking vision for all”

Mariya Gabriel
EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth

Towards a WB Agenda

WBs meet Creative Europe:

WBs meet Erasmus:

WBs meet Horizon: 

Geopolitics of Horizon Association: From proximity to global:


Emotional Video:


NEOs promoting EU initiatives:









Best practices and success stories

Best practice CBHE projects involving WB region

The best practice CBHE projects listed below impacted higher education systems in WB countries and promoted the reform processes at the national and/or regional level. They achieved the modernization, accessibility and Internationalisation of participating institutions, promotion of regional cooperation, and integration with European universities.

 “Strengthening of Internationalisation in B&H Higher Education/STINT” coordinated by Catholic University of Leuven (BE), Partner Countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina). 

The first structural project for Bosnia and Herzegovina was approved in the selection year 2015. This was the first project in which all 8 public universities made a deep analysis of their approaches and activities related to the international affairs. The first objective was that all universities adopt a strategy of internationalization with precise indicators that will be closely measured every year. Guidelines for assessment of internationalization were developed, and the first assessment of HEIs was done. Additionally, staff, especially in the office for international cooperation, was trained and the office for international cooperation was equipped. The second objective was that all universities adopted the Rulebook on Academic Recognition based on the Model on Academic Recognition developed within the Project. These rulebooks are based on the main provision of the Lisbon Recognition Convention (LRC) and its subsidiary documents and represent the main requirement for student mobility and the recognition of different learning paths. During the project, the trainings for recognition officers were held so that 167 recognition officers at 70 faculties of 8 public higher education institutions were trained.

More information about the STINT project on the following link.

‘’ Curriculum Development joint European Political Science MA’’, coordinated by the University of Salzburg, Partner countries involved Albania, Kosovo* and Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Erasmus+ Project: “Curriculum Development joint European Political Science MA (euroPS)” led by University of Salzburg – Department of Political Science and Sociology, aimed to develop a joint/multiple MA in Political Science to be accredited in all thepartner institutions and the development of a multilateral management of this MA. The project aimed at implementing a multilateral Joint/Multiple Degree (JD) for Political Science at MA level (120 ECTS), with diploma supplement for all participating partners on a European standard. A joint degree is awarded by all universities attended by a student during the two-year study programme.

This Master programme is a unique opportunity to study in Austria, Slovenia, Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Kosovo. This 2-year course targeted all international students who have completed their Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and who have a certain level of methodology education.

More information about the EURO-PS project you could find on the links below:


’ICT Networking for Overcoming Technical and Social Barriers in Instrumental Analytical Chemistry education (NETCHEM)’’, coordinated by the University of Nis, Partner Countries involved Serbia and Albania. 

NETCHEM Project aimed at strengthening the capacities for international cooperation in Serbian and Albanian higher education institutions (HEIs) and enterprises. The objective was increasing their education level and technical capacities regarding analytical instrumentation usage for Environmental & Food Safety Control (EFSC) through Technology Enhanced Learning, and to increase benefits in health, environment, tourism and economy in Serbia and Albania toward their EU pre-accession development.

Specifically, the project aimed at establishing a NETCHEM platform providing three main services:

i. SQL based system for EFSC data collection;

ii. web accessed remote instrumental analytical laboratories (WARIAL);

iii. open education resource (OER) in Partner Country universities.

The target audience were HEI teachers, researchers, student population and professionals in enterprises.

More information about the NETCHEM project on the following link.

“Financial management Accounting and Controlling curricula development for capacity building public administration” (FINAC)

The aim of “FINancial management, Accounting and Controlling for capacity building of public administration” (FINAC) project application” is contributing to the higher quality of budgeting, money management, finance management, accounting, and control, in Albanian and Serbian public administration. This aim was achieved throughout meeting specific objectives:

-Designing and developing three new master degree programmes in Serbia and two new master degree programs in Albania in the field of financial management, accounting, and controlling for capacity building of public administration in Albania and Serbia,

- Provision of training at university centers/institutes for public administration employees in Serbia,

- Modernization of one master degree program in the field of public financial management in Serbia.

More information about the FINAC project on the following link.

Best practice Cluster Meetings involving WB region

Cluster meetings are a great practice that help, among others, the HEIs and National authorities to emphasize the actual needs in the HE sectors, to identify obstacles and to find practical solutions.

Cluster meeting (CM) reports from WB 

- Albanian CM report

- Bosnia and Herzegovina CM report

- Kosovo CM report

- Montenegro CM report

Library & Resources

Albania Library & Resources

National Policies

Bosnia and Herzegovina Library & Resources

National Policies

Kosovo Library & Resources

Montenegro Library & Resources

HERE’s articles on COVID 19 :

National policies:

Usefull links

© Federico Beccari

Albania useful links 

-National Erasmus+ Office in Albania: http://erasmusplus.al/

- Delegation of the European Union to Albania: https://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/albania_en

- Erasmus Student Network in Albania


Keep in touch with ESN Tirana: https://esn.org/

FB @esntirana

Instagram: esn_tirana

- The Western Balkans Alumni Association-WBAA, is a regional network of students and alumni from

Keep in touch with WBAA:

Website: https://www.western-balkans-alumni.eu/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WesternBalkansAlumniAssociation/


E-mail: albania@western-balkans-alumni.eu/ board@western-balkans-alumni.eu

- Ministry of Education Sport and Youth: https://arsimi.gov.al/

Bosnia and Herzegovina useful links 

- National Erasmus+ office in Bosnia and Herzegovina: www.erasmusbih.com/index.php

- Delegation of the European Union to BiH: https://europa.ba/

- Ministry of Civil Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina: www.mcp.gov.ba

- Federal Ministry of Education and Science: www.fmon.gov.ba

- Ministry for Scientific and Technological Development, Higher Education and Information Society: http://www.vladars.net/eng/vlada/ministries/MST/Pages/default.aspx

- Centre for Information and Recognition of Qualifications in Higher Education: www.cip.gov.ba/en

- Agency for Development of Higher Education and Quality Assurance of Bosnia and Herzegovina: www.hea.gov.ba

- Higher Education Accreditation Agency of Republika Srpska: http://heaars.com/index.php/en/

- Priorities for 2016 – 2026 Higher Education Development in Bosnia and Herzegovina: http://www.mcp.gov.ba/attachments/en_Migrirani_dokumenti/Units/Education/Obrazovanje-strate%C5%A1ki/Prioriteti,e.pdf

- Public HEIs in BiH: https://erasmusbih.com/en/links/21-public-hei-s

- Private HEIs in BiH: https://erasmusbih.com/en/links/30-private-hei-s

- Directorate for European Integration: https://erasmusbih.com/en/links/27-directorate-for-european-integration

Kosovo useful links

- Erasmus+ Office in Kosovo: http://www.erasmuspluskosovo.org/

- European Union Office in Kosovo https://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/kosovo_en

- Ministry of Education, Science and Technology: https://masht.rks-gov.net/

- Kosovo Accreditation Agency: http://www.akreditimi-ks.org/new/index.php/en/

Montenegro useful links

- National Erasmus+ Office in Montenegro http://www.neomontenegro.ac.me/index.php?l=en

- Ministry of Education in Montenegro: http://www.mpin.gov.me

- University of Montenegro : http://www.ucg.ac.me/

- University Donja Gorica : https://www.udg.edu.me/

- Mediterranean University: http://unimediteran.net

- Agency for Control and Quality Assurance of Higher Education: http://www.akvo.gov.me/agencija

- Law on Higher Education : http://www.erasmusplus.ac.me/wp-content/uploads/Zakon-o-visokom-obrazovanju-2017.pdf

The Western Balkans Alumni Association-WBAA

WBAA is a regional network of students and alumni from the Western Balkan region (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*), North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia) who spent part of their studies abroad, funded by EU education and training programmes such as Erasmus+ and Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions.

Keep in touch with WBAA:

Website: https://www.western-balkans-alumni.eu/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WesternBalkansAlumniAssociation/

Instagram: @wbaassociation

E-Mail: kosovo@western-balkans-alumni.eu / board@western-balkans-alumni.eu

Live event (join us!)

Friday 29 January
(BRU time)

Meeting number:
175 983 0085
(32668420 from phones and video systems)

Join the web meeting