A new law on higher education was adopted in December 2004. The law is aimed at ensuring compliance of the higher education system with western (European) systems, creating new mechanisms of quality control, renewing the content, and achieving higher standards in education. The higher education system consists of three levels: bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. Education levels passed by the students and academic degrees received are compatible with the Bologna Process requirements. Students interested in acquiring practical skills and employment are offered higher professional education programs, upon completion of which they will receive the qualifications of a certified specialist.
According to current legislation, higher education is on the principles of democracy, transparency, and equal opportunities. Legislation has also granted full autonomy to higher education institutions by sharing governance functions with elected members, such as the Academic Council, who makes decision concerning education and research; the Council of Representatives, who deal with administrative and financial issues; and students’ self-governance which comprises 30% of the Council of Representatives. The Faculty Council elects the dean and the Academic Council elects the Rector.The State takes responsibility for the quality of education. It is guaranteed through clearly defined, transparent, and objective procedures of accreditation. The State takes responsibility for the admission of students to the first cycle of higher education. Students are admitted to accredited higher education institutions by passing national admissions exams. The centralized, objective system of national exams ensures the principles of equity and meritocracy and provides opportunities for students to obtain desired professions in preferable higher education institutions. Top-performing students on the Unified National Admissions Examinations receive federal scholarships while the rest of students finance their studies themselves. Additionally, 10% of state education grants are annually allocated for a need-based grant program. Those who have not received education grants may apply for student loans.