By Megi Ndregjoni
Government’s Decision to Vet Academic Staff Is Unlawful

The vetting of university professors has been one of protesting students’ demands. The Rama government was quick in supporting this unusual demand.

A government Decision dated 26 December 2018 sets the framework for the vetting of academic staff in public universities. The Decision assigns the Quality Assurance Agency in Higher Education (AAAL) to implement the process. AAAL is a government-dependent agency. According to the law, AAAL is responsible for conducting the evaluation of higher education institutions and their study programs. From now on it will also be responsible for assessing the quality of academic staff and their work in public universities.

The above-mentioned government decision is against the law because it is a by-law that attempts to assign to AAAL responsibilities that exceed its status as defined in the law on higher education.

First violation

Art.118 of the Constitution stipulates that by-laws must comply with laws and ensure their implementation. Also, the law itself should specifically say which entity can issue by-laws and on what issues and principles.

Art.14 of the law on higher education stipulates that the government can only issue decisions regarding the organization and functioning of AAAL, but it cannot alter agency’s responsibilities and the main object of activity. In fact, government’s decision does precisely that: it assigns AAAL extended responsibilities. For such extension to be legally valid the law on higher education has to be amended, as well as the relative by-laws – otherwise the government’s decision is unlawful.

Second violation

The decision also violates the autonomy of universities which the constitution and law guarantee.

ASCAL is a government dependent agency, hence the assessment of academic staff will be carried out under government’s influence and not by universities and students, as the latter have demanded.

Art.5 of the government’s decision requires AAAL to submit the assessment report on academic staff to the Ministry of Education, which violates the autonomy of universities. Professors and teachers are hired by universities, not the ministry.

The Decision also prescribes the installment of a “Students National Survey” that also involves the assessment of professors’ work. There is no information on how it will install, operate, or what is the expected outcome of the survey.

Not only seems Prime Minister Edi Rama not to have met students’ demand on vetting the academic staff, but his decision is in violation of the law and constitution.