Recently, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published a report on the integrity and corruption in the education system in Serbia, addressing all levels of education. Entitled Strengthening Integrity and Fighting Corruption in Education - Serbia, the report followed a comprehensive research done by the OECD team, which was requested by the Serbian Ministry of Education and Science with the aim to collect evidence on system’s shortcomings and strengths, as well as to forecast corruption incidence, identify solutions and provide recommendations.
The study is innovative in its methodology for assessing the integrity of education systems, the so-called INTES methodology which, according to the report, consist of “scanning of system indicators and survey data (e.g. from the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment – PISA), on-site visits and stakeholder interviews combined with qualitative analysis to identify areas of concern and reconstruct the landscape of root, systemic causes of malpractice and corruption in education.” This approach is complemented by the process of producing recommendations on how to close the gaps identified with regards to the system integrity.
The report gives a brief overview of the education system in Serbia and refers to the overall integrity climate in the country. The report also addresses the issue of capacity of the system to ensure fair access, quality and efficient resource management, as well as its capacity to prevent and detect malpractice and corruption.
The goals of reform are commendable and ambitious, but the OECD assessment team observed that, in several education policy areas, the integrity of the system is being challenged by their fast pace and wide-reaching scope, and by inevitable societal changes. In many cases the traction between reform efforts and the realities of life in schools and universities still appears to be weak or missing.
Finally, the report gives a set of recommendations on how to strengthen the integrity by addressing some of the identified gaps. With regards to higher education, the OECD assessment team recommends, inter alia, increasing the transparency and accountability of assessment procedures; standardising admission to tertiary education; diversifying sources of private investment in the tertiary system; attaching more weight to the socio-economic background of students in the criteria for accessing public support; and improving the academic standards against plagiarism and cheating.