(Original script, may differ from delivered version)
Minister, Distinguished Guest, ladies and gentlemen.
The British Embassy in Tirana and the British Council have supported the reform of Higher Education in Albania since its inception. Through the provision of UK expertise and by facilitating links between Albanian and UK higher education agencies, we are glad to have been able to support the Ministry of Education in its efforts to restore order to the chaotic market of higher education provision in Albania.
We are very pleased now to be at the stage where, having created the necessary legal bases for a better functioning sector in Albania, we are able to offer capacity building assistance for the Ministry of Education and its agencies. It has been a process aimed at restoring the trust of the public in the education sector and in its institutions including its universities.
This process of support to higher educational reform has gone through several stages:
First. We were able to help provide the necessary road map for the ministry to plan steps towards restoring legitimacy to the system and assurance in the quality of the higher education provision. We were happy to be able to bring the highest quality expertise from the British Accreditation Council in UK. This initial work led to the measures taken by the ministry to close 18 HE institutions which were operating outside the licensing criteria.
The next step was the agreement between the government of Albania and the Quality Assurance Agency to carry out jointly the accreditation of all Albanian universities, private and public to bring the right level of quality assurance. This has been an important milestone in the process. We are looking forward in the coming months to seeing the conclusion of this process which will also build the capacity of the Albanian Agency of Quality Assurance.
Following the adoption of the new law on higher education, two new agencies have been created based on the models in the UK. Through programs of exchange between our countries key expertise in the area of university financing and other education services have been brought from leading agencies in the Higher Education Sector in the UK. We hope that through these contacts we will share not only knowledge of organisational structures, know-how and the legal bases for operation but also that we will create lasting institutional links that will bring benefits to all involved including the universities.
This important conference today is another opportunity to share expertise between Great Britain’s Higher Education Statistics Agency and the newly created Albanian agency for education services and also other European partners. We hope that through your joint work we will find solutions that meet the needs of the Albanian educational authorities and, of course, most importantly help to meet the requirements of Albania’s students who are, ultimately, the ones that really matter.