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Macedonian Government and UKIM agree on postponing enforcement of amendments to higher education law

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Studentski protesti vlada 1 (Custom)

Macedonian Government has announced that at the next session it will ask Parliament to suspend parts of the law on high education for one or two years. If approved, the new state examination regimen that was supposed to begin in 2017 will now start in 2018, and the new legal obligation for university professors to publish research papers in internationally renowned magazines will be delayed for two years.

Macedonian Parliament recently passed five laws which included changes to all levels of education, and these two clauses caused protests among students and professors. Macedonian Government said Friday that after a demand from the Senate of the largest university in the country, ‘Ss Cyril and Methodius’ University (UKIM) in Skopje, it held talks with representatives of the two ‘plenum’ organizations, that led the opposition to the changes.

Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, Education Minister and his Deputy, Abdulakim Ademi and Spiro Ristovski respectively, met with representatives of the Plenum of students and Plenum of professors, and the two sides said they were ready to delay the implementation of latest amendments to the higher education law.

“In the meantime, we have agreed to continue our discussion with work groups that are to work on improving the package of reform laws in higher education, namely passing of a new law for high education. The Government is open and prepared for a wider, transparent and inclusive process with relevant stakeholders to work on building a quality system of higher education”, the Government said in a press release.

The Plenum of students, through its twitter account, said that nothing was decided at the meeting with the Government, and that a final decision would be made by all students. The idea to work on a new law for high education was also promoted by President Gjorge Ivanov, who signed the reform package, while announcing a new push for education reform. The largest opposition SDSM party boycotts Parliament which reduced the debate in Parliament, while the plenums refused to join a debate with proponents of the law and the Government before the law was passed, demanding that the reforms be withdrawn before the two sides meet. In the past few months, the plenum groups held three protest rallies in the capital Skopje, with smaller protests in other cities across Macedonia.