The Ministry of Education held public consultations about the draft Law on Academic Integrity through the organisation of a series of round table events (Podgorica-30 May, Niksic 31 May and Budva 1 June). The public consultations ran until 15 June.
The roundtable in Podgorica was opened by the Minister of Education Damir Sehovic and attracted a lot of media attention, and was also attended by NGOs and academia. In his introductory speech Minister Sehovic said that “the aim of the law is not to penalise people as much as creating a culture of good habits, necessity of learning academic writing methodology, and improving the quality of education”. Our message is that stealing from other authors is not moral or honourable and, as much as it may seem like a shortcut this not a good way to go given both the damage to his/her reputation and, what is more important, ones awareness of his/her weak knowledge and predominantly lack of integrity”.
Angela Longo, Head of Operations at the Council of Europe Programme Office in Podgorica said that adoption of the law is part of the move towards EU membership. Moreover, she added “the issue of academic integrity exists in the whole European region, presenting similar issues than those we see in Montenegro. Council of Europe resources have been made available to the country in developing the law but the law has to be implementable”.
As explained by Mubera Kurpejovic, Director General of the Directorate for higher education in the Ministry of Education, the law will introduce an Ethical Committee as a new institution dealing with integrity in higher education at the national level. Its seven members will be appointed by the Government for a term of 4 years and chosen from those considered as outstanding members of the academic community. Its responsibilities will inter alia include adoption and implementation monitoring of the Charter of Ethics; providing opinions on the regulations and initiatives concerning ethics; promoting principles of academic integrity and annual reporting to the Government. “In case the proceeding for academic misconduct is not completed within six months by the higher education institution concerned it shall be processed by the Committee”, she further clarified.
During the three roundtables, constructive suggestions for improvements to the text of the law were put forward. The Working Group will review all comments received and propose a final text to the Government for adoption.
The Action “Strengthen Integrity and Combat Corruption in Higher Education” is providing technical assistance in developing this important piece of legislation.