Strengthen integrity and combat corruption in higher education

27 August 2018


IIEP, together with the Council of Europe, organized a study visit on Higher education institutions in Switzerland: Integrity in higher education from 2 to 4 July 2018. The visit enabled a group of high-level officials from the Kosovo Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST), the University of Pristina, the University of Gjakova, the State Council for Quality Assurance, and the Kosovo Anti-Corruption Agency to learn from the Swiss experience in addressing the challenge of ensuring integrity and combating in higher education.

The group benefitted from a comprehensive set of presentations and discussions sessions led by contributions on:

  • The challenges of academic integrity from an international perspective;
  • The main characteristics of higher education in Switzerland, and the measures taken to promote ethics and integrity in higher education;
  • The Chart of Ethics adopted by the Committee of Ethics and Deontology of the University of Geneva and its enforcement mechanisms;
  • Procedures for investigating and using plagiarism detection software, as well as training in mediation, conflict resolution, and fact checking for PhD students and young researchers; and
  • Approaches to promote ethics and integrity through accreditation and quality assurance mechanisms.

A special session was devoted to working groups with specific tasks for each on the relevance and applicability of the Swiss experience to Kosovo, and the follow-up to be envisaged to capitalize on Switzerland’s experience.

Given the rich tapestry of topics covered during the visit, the two working groups produced oral reports, focusing on the following main points:

  • The issue of integrity in higher education should be considered from an individual, institutional and also a political perspective;
  • A common core of ethical values shared among the academic community should be formulated and disseminated;
  • Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) should be supported to design codes of conduct and integrity plans (including a work plan, timeline, costing, etc.);
  • New legislation on conflicts of interest and intellectual property should be adopted;
  • Ethical codes should target the academic personnel and students; ethical councils for students should be established;
  • Sanctions are useful, but broader dialogue enabling the emergence of a common integrity culture should be favored;
  • Better ownership and use of anti-plagiarism software should be encouraged; anti-plagiarism tools designed with the support of local NGOs should get funded;
  • The autonomy of quality assurance and accreditation bodies is a must;
  • Standards for quality assurance and accreditation should consider the existence of codes of ethics, assessment modes, student participation, promotion of the social role of HEIs, etc.;
  • Institutional and functional audits of higher education institutions should be put in place;
  • Research on academic integrity should be developed, and best practices on integrity issues in the region widely shared.

* References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999)

 This article first appeared on IIEP's ETICO platform for ethics and anti-corruption in education.