Internationalization of higher education is one of key aspects of its development and a strategic priority of all European higher education institutions. Increasing international competitiveness and international standing, visibility and comparability within European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and European Research Area (ERA) are main driving forces for all Montenegrin Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), especially in the light of the ongoing EU integration process. In the past 14 years higher education in Montenegro has undergone significant reforms aimed at harmonizing with the standards of the Bologna Declaration and making it more compatible with EHEA in terms of content, curricula, standards, quality and study duration hence being more efficient in meeting the needs of the society.
Lack in the strategic approach to internationalization and strategy monitoring and implementation is identified as one of the main hindering factors to exploiting potential of Montenegrin HEIs and to the increase of their competitiveness at the international level. Where strategies exist, their implementation is often inadequately monitored due to lack of appropriate tools and instruments that would provide input for evidence-based decision making and measure the impact of the implemented mechanisms. Even if there is an adopted strategy of internationalization, its coordinated implementation is often missing due to the fact that the development of such a strategy was often initiated because of external requirements or incentives, coming from the outside of the university, and not from the institution itself.
The European University Association (EUA) evaluation report for the Montenegrin HEIs in 2014 stated the lack of capacity for strategic planning at the university level and the lack of regular evaluation of internationalization activities. It stressed lack of evaluation of student and staff mobility, and the fact that implementation of international projects is not closely monitored. One of the evaluation team’s remarks was also the lack of support services for foreign and domestic students who participate in mobility programs. Other problems that hinder better internationalization of Montenegrin HEIs are low level of participation in mobility programs, the limited mobility of academic and administrative staff, problems with recognition of mobility period, and lack of study programs in the English language or any other foreign language.
Three Montenegrin HEIs involved in the project have a long-standing cooperation in different projects and initiatives, especially in the higher education component (learning outcomes, mobility, EU development of skills in project management, languages and tourism, etc.). As main HEIs in the country, they have been on the forefront of the reforms and integration into EHEA and ERA, as these processes are a part of their mission. Thus, in their efforts to further improve teaching and research processes, they are continually working on different aspects of their system in order to develop/maintain flexible, European-type HEIs.
Topic of internationalisation was chosen as aspect highly-positioned on the strategic agenda of each university, ministries of education and science as well as national priority for Erasmus + Program. Being aware of the significance of internationalisation, all three HEIs have been making significant efforts in its continuous improvement.