Research conducted in public and private universities in ten cities in Bosnia showed that most students see corruption as widespread in the higher education system, Transparency International, TI, said in Banja Luka on April 11.
Their results show that one in four students have reported a personal experience of corruption at their faculty, often in the form of having to pay money to pass an exam.
“It is a terrifying fact that almost 50 per cent of students would practice corruption if there were no other way to pass an exam, which is what this research has shown,” said Najil Kurtic, the professor from Tuzla who conduced the research.
The most common form of corruption at Bosnian universities noted by the 2,000 interviewed students is having to pay for a positive grade, which was said by some 45 per cent of cases.
Passing an exam with the help of family or friends was reported by 20 per cent, while assuring a positive grade by buying the professor's original book from him was reported by 15 per cent of cases.
Both students and professors think the responsibility for the problem lies equally between them. At the same time, hardly anyone is ready to go public with accusations of corruption.
Kurtic said that 36 per cent of students believe corruption damages the quality of education while most of the 500 interviewed professors said it does not affect it at all.
Transparency International also concluded that higher education staff and students are insufficiently informed about what corruption is and how to fight it.
“We had many problems while conducting the research since a significant number of faculties were not interested in taking part in it at all,” Ivana Korajlic of TI said.
In general, the research suggested that corruption in higher education in Bosnia forms part of a broader picture of corruption in society.
There is no systematic way of combating corruption at universities, Transparency International concluded, meaning it is up to individuals to fight against it.
An earlier TI report suggested Bosnia is one of the most corrupt states in Europe. Only 11 corruption cases reached final verdicts in the courts in the last year. In neighboring Croatia, by contrast, there were 142 such verdicts.
In Transparency International's annual report for 2011, Bosnia was ranked between 91-94th position among 182 countries, far behind the 27 countries of EU and lower than all other former Yugoslav republics.
That report placed Slovenia highest in the region in 35th position, while Croatia was ranked in 66th place, Macedonia 69th and Serbia 86th. Only Kosovo, which was not a republic in the old Yugoslavia, came below Bosnia, ranked in 112th place.
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